As people all over the globe are settling into the “new normal”, they have taken on a different approach to the way they live, work and think. The pandemic had forced people worldwide into house arrest, leaving them to deal with isolation and - often for the first time - with the challenges of working from home. Businesses had to improvise, and this has led to more resilient infrastructure, processes and systems. In today’s post, we take a look at the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on consumer behaviour, on the business community and on the recruitment sector.
1. Shifts in job vacancies
According to a study conducted by the Office of National Statistics, although vacancies hit a historical low across the UK as a result of COVID-19, companies are beginning to hire again post-lockdown. There has been an increase in job openings in tech and FinTech, as well as those involved in the restructuring of businesses. The area of delivery and logistics has also seen an increase in demand for employees as businesses adapt to provide services or goods that can be delivered straight to consumers’ homes. Temporary workers have shifted to sectors which have seen a growth in jobs. The number of agricultural and farming vacancies has risen since workers from abroad are unable to travel. There is pressure for those in this sector to be able to hire quickly and efficiently as harvesting crops, for example, is time sensitive. And of course, any businesses which focus on working remotely and home-schooling are hiring more.
2. Online retail and delivery services
Due to lockdown, numerous retailers, restaurants and foodservice providers had to switch to online distribution, which was a huge undertaking for many small and medium size businesses. However, although brick-and-mortar shops are now starting to open, consumers are still reluctant to return. In the UK, where online conversion rates were moderate prior to the crisis, e-commerce continues to increase in every product category. Many will keep ordering their meals, groceries and goods online to maintain social distancing – especially if they have had positive experiences with e-commerce during the crisis. The convenient ‘click and collect’ service has helped many businesses pull through the crisis, while enabling customers to maintain social distancing. Those customers who have supported local businesses throughout the crisis will continue to do so, whether via online services or in person. The increase in home delivery for goods during this period has not only forced companies to be flexible and expand, but consumers are also approaching purchasing in a new way. 71% of consumers in the UK switched brands and retailers during lockdown due to convenience and value. Hence, organisations that were not easily available online before and during the COVID-19 pandemic run the risk of not surviving.
3. Business travel
The travel industry has been hit hardest by the health crisis. Increased security measures, such as temperature checks and COVID-19 tests add to the time spent at airports. Although most companies plan to resume travel by the end of 2020, it is not likely that corporate travel will return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Border and quarantining rules that differ from country to country create possible litigation risks for corporates. Furthermore, virtual meetings that increased during lockdown are here to stay and will in many cases replace costly and time-consuming corporate travel. “Businesses will re-evaluate whether travel is fundamentally required," says Dale Buckner, CEO of Global Guardian. "In cases where it is, a firm will have to sponsor an employee or executive to travel knowing the risks, like that they might be burning money having to put them up at a luxury hotel during a 14-day quarantine.”
4. Hybrid working and optimized work from home setups
The Adecco Group’s study, “Resetting Normal – Defining the new era of work”, revealed that nearly three quarters of the white-collar workers who participated in the study think that a mix of office-based and remote working is the best way forward, and 49% of the respondents wish to work remotely for half of the week. During the forced lockdown of the COVID-19 crisis, high levels of trust have been established between employees and employers, and productivity has not suffered. This is a clear affirmation that working from home is here to stay. As a result, a growing number of businesses are adding their weight to working from home and more flexible working arrangements, aided by technology and video-conferencing platforms. Expect setups at home that go far beyond a second screen. Special equipment, and advanced video/audio setups will be brought in to accommodate this change in lifestyle.
5. Hygiene and caring economy
Consumers have started to pay more attention to how products have been packed and developed a heightened awareness of how companies treat workers and interact with local communities. The consequence is that they are buying more from companies and brands that provide hygienic packaging and demonstrate care and concern for their employees. For those candidates searching for a new position during this time, the actions taken by firms during the crisis are likely to affect their decision-making process. For example, a company which has implemented hygienic measures and an effective work from home strategy shows that it is empathetic to its employers. With the current uncertainty, it is reassuring for a prospective employee to see that a firm is prepared and caring. It is predicted that the actions that organisations take during the COVID-19 health crisis are likely to be remembered for a long time, even after we have regained control over the pandemic.
The global coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of the economy, from consumer behaviour to employment. We are committed to supporting you and your organisation.