What will business look like in a post COVID-19 world?

22 June 2020

The sudden onset of COVID-19 saw many businesses spring into action to stay afloat, adapt their operations and, in many cases, pivot their business model to survive.

Now that restrictions are starting to ease, and business owners begin to navigate a return to normalcy, what are the long-term ramifications and opportunities for business owners? Has consumer behaviour changed permanently and, if so, how can you adapt?

A recent study of consumers suggests three key changes to day to day life on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

  1. Remote workforce.
  2. Personal mobility.
  3. Retail experiences.

As we come to terms with our new look COVID-19 landscape, a question begs; what will life look like for businesses in a post crisis world?

A remote workforce

The last few months has been a ‘trial by fire’ period for many businesses that have moved their workforce to operate remotely. For many, the experience has been eye-opening, showing that productivity can remain constant, if not improved in a working from home model.

With the average Australian spending over four and a half hours per week commuting[1], employers and employees alike have been able to experience the benefits first-hand of replacing lengthy commute times with activities such as exercising, running errands or spending time with friends and family.

A recent survey of Findex employees across Australia and New Zealand indicated more than 80 percent of our people would like to continue to utilise remote working options on a full-time or part-time basis.

In that context, it’s hard to see how we will ever return to the workplaces we traditionally knew but what new challenges will this present for businesses once restrictions are eased, and ultimately lifted?

Personal mobility

Of those who continue to frequent office spaces and coworking spaces in favour of home workplaces, will the way they commute be impacted?

A recent IBM study showed a large number of respondents indicated they had already changed or intended to change the way they commute as they look to reduce their exposure to public transport and ride sharing. Nearly 20 percent of respondents suggested they will stop using public transport altogether.

Rideshare companies like Uber have taken an enormous hit over the past few months. Uber pivoted and redeployed drivers to their food delivery operations and Shebah, a women and children-only transport service, has introduced a feature called SheDrop to its app, which facilitates the drop-off of items such as groceries and pharmaceutical scripts to the doors of users.

Professor Graham Currie, Professor of Transport Engineering at Monash University said, “Travel is extremely habitual. We're used to doing it in a certain way, and it's hard to change people's habits. However, when people have no choice, they suddenly find themselves doing other things, and that can have a sustained effect.”

So, what does that mean for the long-term impact to ridesharing and public transport and how will they adapt to changing consumer preferences?

Retail experiences

The retail experience has been evolving over the last decade, with more and more businesses moving away from traditional models to embrace e-commerce. Now more than ever, retail business owners have an opportunity to evolve the traditional retail experience, paving the way for superior consumer experiences and integrated offline and online store experiences.

As the reliance on brick and mortar stores dwindles, it leaves many businesses with potentially greater profit margins and differing opportunities available to them. But, as can be seen by highly successful brands, this is not an opportunity to pocket the money, but rather an opportunity to invest, control and improve the client experience.

Eventually, the restrictions will be lifted and while models and predictions abound, no one can say with certainty what the course of recovery will look like, much less the permanent impact the pandemic will have on people and societies more broadly.

But whatever our ‘new normal’ looks like, t’s safe to say life after COVID-19 won’t be like it was before. How you choose to respond to that is entirely in your hands.

Findex has developed a Government Stimulus Health Check and free Business Wellbeing Toolkit to help businesses manage potential risks and take full advantage of eligible stimulus assistance. Book your Health Check here.

[1] https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2019/jul/increasing-commuting-times