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How Tomorrow May Look Different

Aug. 27, 2020
Here are nine things that will have changed for the electrical market once the coronavirus is gone.

When COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, we will all be amazed at what a  crazy and at times awful ride it has been. Here are a few things that I think will change in the electrical industry because if it.

#1. Working at home will be a way of life for many employees and customers. Managers like the fact that disciplined home office workers can be just as productive — and often more productive — as they are in the office. On the downside, many of us are a little burned out on Zoom meetings, conference calls and other remote communication technologies and miss the day-to-day, in-person interaction with co-workers. However, a new blend of home office and in-office work strategies will be here to stay for many companies, even after we have all been inoculated against the coronavirus.

#2. All electrical distributors will stock PPE (personal protection equipment) supplies. Boxes of masks and cartons of hand sanitizer will be in most counter areas as distributors sell them as impulse purchase items along with work gloves, flashlights  and other job-site supplies.

#3. Companies will rethink how much office space they really need. No one knows what the “right” mix of traditional office space versus home offices will be. But it will be a consideration for any C-suite executive tasked with the decision of building a new office building.

#4. The reconfiguration of offices spaces will lead to new retrofit opportunities for electrical marketers. While contractors in other trades will perform some of the more obvious office renovations like installing plexiglass barriers and tuning up air handling system with new filters, once you start moving around work stations, electricians will be needed to retrofit electrical wiring and lighting systems.

#5. Zoom calls and other forms of teleconferencing will remain but won’t replace face-to-face meetings and other sales calls. As you can read in Associate Editor Ellie Coggins’ cover story this month, “Next-Gen Sales & Marketing,” on page 14, reps and distributors are developing some innovative ways to demonstrate new products to customers by blending video and product samples.

#6. You will need  a “communications game plan” for each customer. Some customers will be comfortable with face-to-face meetings and others will prefer video calls.  Some will be okay with handshakes and other will just want elbow bumps. You will also have to consider where they are at with masks and social distancing.

#7. Overnight travel will come back, but blending it with virtual meetings, sales calls or trainings will be the new reality. This is another of the zillion-dollar questions that all companies will have to answer. Virtual meetings are here to stay, but they will be blended with traditional travel and meeting strategies once more folks are comfortable hopping on an airplane and staying in a hotel.

#8. Small Town American may become a very big draw for city dwellers and offer new sales opportunities to the electrical market. A migration from cities to the suburbs and rural areas is underway, but it’s too early to say if it’s a forever-trend, or if city dwellers will move back to urban areas once the crisis passes. If smaller towns can satisfy the new residents with fast (enough) internet service, less expensive housing, good schools and at least a few restaurants to keep foodies happy, they may stick around, and our industry will be busy with new construction in these market areas.

#9. Hopefully, some of the community spirit and simple neighborly  decencies we saw during this crisis won’t be reserved for special occasions or the next crisis.  Call me an optimist, but I am a believer in the basic goodness of human beings. Hospital doctors, nurses and other hospital workers, police and other public safety personnel, teachers, postal workers and so many other workers on the front lines exposed themselves to COVID-19 to help out others. Neighbors checked in on each other. Let’s all hope that doesn’t stop.

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing

Jim Lucy has been wandering through the electrical market for more than 40 years, most of the time as an editor for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter, and as a contributing writer for EC&M magazine During that time he and the editorial team for the publications have won numerous national awards for their coverage of the electrical business. He showed an early interest in electricity, when as a youth he had an idea for a hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, the first crude prototype malfunctioned and the arc nearly blew him out of his parents' basement.

Before becoming an editor for Electrical Wholesaling  and Electrical Marketing, he earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA in communications from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ., which is formerly best known as the site of the 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Russian Premier Aleksei Nikolayevich Kosygin, and now best known as the New Jersey state college that changed its name in 1992 to Rowan University because of a generous $100 million donation by N.J. zillionaire industrialist Henry Rowan. Jim is a Brooklyn-born Jersey Guy happily transplanted with his wife and three sons in the fertile plains of Kansas for the past 30 years. 

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