Six ways that the business world may change forever due to the COVID-19 outbreak
London - 30 March 2020 - As businesses around the world scramble a response to the coronavirus, one thing is clear; the way we work may change forever. Here’s six reasons why:-
1. More home working:
The crisis has shown not just that many people’s jobs can be done from home, but that many people’s jobs are better done from home. The key is to try not to mix work and pleasure. Have a dedicated workspace, maintain elements of your normal working routine and minimise distractions.
The office has never been closer either. Tools such as Zoom and Slack allow real time messaging and video conferencing. Meaning you can collaborate in real time while maintaining social distancing.
2. Less cash, more contactless:
With many high street stores closed to help prevent the spread of the virus, people’s habits have changed dramatically. Many consumers will be looking to online deliveries as the safest and easiest way to get their essential and non-essential goods.
Even in the stores that remain open, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, there has been a clear preference for paperless and preferably contactless transactions. In the UK, Waitrose and Lidl both announced they would raise the contactless payment limit, so consumers do not have to handle the same chip and pin device as everyone else. Cash may very well fall victim to the crisis.
3. Cleaner air, cleaner living
The silver lining to the crisis has been a dramatic uptick in air quality for many people living in major cities.
China was the first to be hit by the virus. The resulting slowdown stopped it pumping almost 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The European Space Agency says nitrogen dioxide levels fell by around 40% too. The lessons of the SARS epidemic are clear here too. People are far more likely to die from respiratory illnesses if their lungs are already damaged by air pollution.
Road traffic accounts for around 80% of nitrogen dioxide emissions in the UK. With fewer people commuting, that figure should go down significantly as new clampdown measures come into effect.
4. Trade shows going out of fashion
The next few months were meant to see some of the biggest trade shows in the world. There was the New York International Auto Show and E3, the gaming industry’s biggest event, where the new generation of high powered consoles would be officially unveiled. Instead, all of this is being done individually, online, and to measure, rather than on a stage in front of thousands.
Companies may miss the industry events. Certainly, there will be plenty of employees who will. But for consumers, their engagement with the brands will not change significantly. Product launches will have to be small and bespoke and events may go 'virtual' for the time being. That will allow businesses to see what truly is and isn’t dispensable when it comes to launches.
5. Better internal communications
Edelman conducted a special trust barometer report in early March. Ten thousand people in ten markets across the world. One of the most surprising findings was that 63% of respondents trusted information from their employer, higher than from a government website (58%) or traditional media (51%).
This gives companies a vital role in ensuring their employees are well informed about the pandemic. Seven out of ten checked for information at least once a day, and most wanted to hear from experts, rather than journalists or politicians. In eight out of ten countries, people chose ‘my employer’ as better prepared than the national government. Expectations of businesses and bosses to manage the crisis are high.
6. Corporate Social Responsibility
That leads on to the final point, which is that people want to trust their employer. In a moment of almost unprecedented crisis, there is already talk on social media of boycotting certain companies over profiteering schemes and unfair treatment of their employees.
On the other hand, many companies have seized the opportunity to do something good. They have realised that it’s not just about marketing, it’s about making your employees proud to work for you.
Their response will be remembered for a long time. And in today’s interconnected world, it will be spread far and wide.