We are around a year-and-a-half into a worldwide pandemic. Despite vaccination availability, it continues to affect our daily lives in significant ways.

The first lockdowns in the U.S. were announced in March 2020, and many employers still haven’t brought employees back to the office, particularly with the surge in Delta variant cases.

We have all changed how we live, and businesses have been significantly impacted.

While initially, businesses had no choice but to adapt, now they’ve been able to be more strategic in how they respond to the world and what’s happening in it. Some of the changes stemming from the pandemic have been positive for businesses or at least needed.

The following are some of the major ways coronavirus has shifted business, and we may not ever see things go back to the way they were.

Cybersecurity and IT Environments

There was already a shift from primarily on-premises to a cloud-based infrastructure before the pandemic. The COVID-19 shutdowns sped it up rapidly, however. Remote and hybrid work is now the norm in the modern IT environment.

This leads to changes such as the removal of on-premises domains with virtual domains, also known as a domainless enterprise. The benefit of domainless enterprise is the flexibility and security required for remote, modern workforces.

This is important because, in a JumpCloud survey, more than 53% of IT admins said managing remote workers is one of their biggest ongoing challenges. From a separate survey, 87% of CISOs said they think remote work is here to stay.

With options like domainless models, the benefits include centralized control, simplicity, and security.

Delta Means Changing Goalposts

If we were to go back to the late spring, there was a renewed sense of optimism in the business world that perhaps the worst of the pandemic was behind us. People were being vaccinated, masks were coming off, consumer sentiment and spending were ticking back up, and people were traveling again.

Then, the Delta variant hit high-income countries and brought that optimism to a screeching halt, which businesses are contending with now.

The Delta variant has also left most of even the top experts wondering if herd immunity will ever be a reality. Businesses are starting to look at how they manage in a world where COVID doesn’t end but is instead endemic.

It’s hard to overstate the business effects. For example, shipping problems are plaguing businesses, creating rising costs and requiring creative solutions.

Google just recently announced they were for the third time postponing their workers’ return to the office. In a recent blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai said the new date to return to the office would be January 10, 2022.

Pichai said in his post that workers will have more flexibility, and beyond January 10 as it stands now, the company will let different locations and countries decide when to end their voluntary work-from-home conditions.

Before that announcement, there had been a second delay to October 18, and with that announcement, Pichai said workers would be required to get vaccinated.

Combatting Ransomware Attacks

While there are a lot of benefits that come with a remote workforce on both ends of the spectrum, there are undoubtedly challenges as well.

We’ve seen this action over the past year, with the uptick in ransomware attacks. The attacks are more brazen than ever before, and they’re being conducted on increasingly high-profile targets.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, ransomware attacks have gone up by almost 500%.

The average payment has gone up 43% since the last quarter of 2020, to an average of more than $200,000.

This isn’t the only cybersecurity issue, but it does highlight how this area is rapidly evolving, and businesses are going to have to accept the realities of these threats and find ways to keep up, especially with employees working remotely.

The need for security measures like Multi-Factor Authentication is increasing, and identity controls will have to inevitably tighten, even though they might be met with resistance from employees and customers alike.

Digital Adoption

There are so many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up overall digital adoption in various ways.

For example, many companies that maybe at the start of 2020 had been resistant to the idea are using at least hybrid work environments, with team members spending time in the office and working remotely.

This is leading to more businesses being virtual first, and that does give employees a sense of flexibility and choice in how they work. It can be beneficial for the company, too, because a virtual-first model does tend to lend itself to agility and scalability.

For virtual first to work well in your business, as a leader, you need to be willing and able to train and evaluate the technology and protocols for how you do things.

Digital adoption doesn’t just apply to how employees work. It also applies to how consumers are doing things. Consumers are relying more on digital currency, and they’re sticking with their pandemic shopping habits as of right now. This does present businesses with the opportunity to refine their offerings to cater to the changing needs of their customers.

More Talent Access

If employees continue to work remotely, it does help employers get creative with what’s proving to be a massive challenge right now—finding good talent.

Employers can think outside of geographic lines when it comes to hiring, which can be especially beneficial for high-skill and tech-driven positions. That’s something that should be at the forefront of considerations for businesses of all sizes as they look at how they can navigate this new world.

Strictly from a business standpoint, there are pitfalls and opportunities happening right now. Employers and businesses will have to look down this bumpy road and see where they see themselves as a result of the pandemic and its larger business effects.