What is the effect on Businesses in the New Normal as we emerge from COVID and a worldwide pandemic?

It has become evident businesses must change the way in which they operate in the future.

For some, the changes will be subtle, such as social distancing in the workplace and the necessity to change clothes from your home / commuting clothes into your work clothes.

Home Working

At the time of writing Schoder Investments have announced to all its 5,000 staff that they will no longer be required to come into the office. Additionally they have been advised and they can work from home or wherever they feel suitable. 

This revolutionary move means as long as staff work the days and hours in their contract they can work from any location. Albeit one with a suitable internet connection. 

Many other companies are expected to follow suit in order to reduce costs in order to retain profitable business.

The move follows the trend from working from home during the lockdown which saw almost 50% of the UK workforce carrying out their job from home.

During this time the UK has seen an increase in productivity from home workers as they have more time to focus on the tasks. 

By implementing weekly productivity reviews the employer can see that task is completed on time.

Other staff benefits include saving on average an hour per day commuting to and from the office. Incredibly this may result in a reduction in travel expenses of between £49.00 and £79.00 per week for a typical employee.

Whilst from a company perspective home working should bring a significant reduction in expensive office space that will. In turn, this will help improve bottom-line profitability in these uncertain times.

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Effect on Retail

Marks and Spencer announced 7,700 redundancies. Albeit, through voluntary redundancies and early retirement, in a bid to streamline operations and make the company more efficient.

A recent pivot by Marks and Spencer’s to focus operations on food, specifically targeting the lunchtime market. This has had a negative impact on their business.

Maybe, Marks And Spencer’s Pivot was just poor timing, Alternatively, and more probably, it was the effect of poor management vision.

Another established retail to find itself in difficult times is the bricks and mortar and online suit and shirt supplier, T M Lewin. 

Whilst having a great online business model, the range of products are focused specifically on business clothing. 

This market has been heavily impacted by the changes to the working environment. Currently more people are working from home there is not the requirement to wear conventional work attire.

The minority of people who were not furloughed or working from home have often swopped the suit for Chinos and open-neck shirts.

Other Reasons Customers Are Migrating to Online

Other reasons for the migration to online by shoppers include:

  • Convenience of purchase, as shoppers resist visiting crowded shopping centre and having to wait in line. Also, with many consumers working from home, they are less likely to drop in at lunchtime.
  • Availability, due to the enforced closure of High Street Retailers. Many online businesses remained open and able to supply within days.
  • Safety – in order to reduce infection many shoppers reduced their personal risk of infection by shopping online. Furthermore, the requirement by the Government to wear face masks in shops and when travelling by public transport has also impacted on buying habits.

A survey from Google regarding buying habits

Businesses in the new normal will have to flexible enough and adapt to changes in a way that has not been seen in the past. 

Lean and flexible companies will be in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities. Undoubtedly these are going to prosper, both now and in the future.

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