The enduring lockdown trends
From volunteerism to flexible working, which behaviours will continue after the UK economy full reopens?
The one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has given almost everybody is time.
During the harsh restrictions of lockdown, it’s hardly surprising that home baking, boxset marathons, and online quizzes have become so popular.
Companies providing services like home workouts, high-end meal kits and even crochet tutorials all have boomed during the pandemic.
Not everyone has had a smooth path through the pandemic though; businesses have had to become more agile and invest in technology. Many entrepreneurs and individuals have adjusted their attitudes, spending more time on worthy causes or making sure they are planning for their own futures.
Consumer trends affects demand and it’s something businesses and entrepreneurs need to be aware of; are we seeing a remodelling of the economy? Which pandemic trends might endure once the economy reopens?
The rise of the volunteer
The NHS reported 750,000 people signed up within just four days of launching its NHS Volunteer Responder programme in April last year – around 400,000 ended up working in voluntary positions.
However, other voluntary organisations, such as charities, are reporting fairly flat numbers in terms of volunteer growth over the past year.
This could suggest that the wave of volunteerism we are seeing seems to be driven by purpose, by the pandemic itself.
Despite this, a recent survey found that 80% of those who have taken part in volunteering over the past year say they intend to continue past the pandemic.
Volunteering contributes around £18.2 billion to the UK economy each year (1% of GDP), so if the current trend of mass mobilised volunteerism continues, it could have a measurable impact on how our economy functions.
Businesses have had to adapt
Business owners have had to become more agile and innovative during the pandemic, around 70% report changing their business models. Public-facing businesses – like hospitality – have been hit hardest. Some pivoted into home deliveries while almost all faced the logistical challenge of creating space for social distancing when they could open.
While extremely challenging for business owners, it’s improved the customer journey for many, with the use of smartphone apps to book tables, order, and pay, making the process more convenient and predictable.
Table service apps were beginning to gain traction before covid, but their uptake has certainly accelerated during the pandemic. The next challenge for hospitality managers is just how many people will remain reticent to cram into busy pubs and bars, to queue at the bar as soon as social distancing rules are relaxed.
For office workers, remote working became the only way to work, with many employers urgently re-thinking digital infrastructure investment to keep colleagues connected and collaborating while offices were shut. This is evidenced in the continued success of IT, communication and technology companies since April last year.
Digital adoption was an almost ubiquitous trend across the globe last year with more than half of executive reporting that they are investing in technology for competitive advantage, saying that digital adoption – forced upon them by the pandemic – was an easier change than they imagined previously.
Flexibility for workers
With workers picking up their jobs from home, the future world of work looks very different. Many international companies have, for some time, cut down on travel expenditure by adopting new technologies like video conferencing.
Before the pandemic, wholly flexible distance working was part of the ‘work-perk’ arsenal of ‘disrupters’ and newer companies looking to attract a younger, cheaper generation of workers.
But with wholesale adoption of distance working, families have reaped the benefits of having more time at home – and less money spent commuting.
As the economy picks up and companies start hiring, companies that decide to row back their flexible working policies could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the recruitment space.
When you consider that 77% of workers would now prefer a mix of face-to-face and remote working, coupled with the potential cost savings of downsizing an office, it seems a fairly obvious choice for business owners post-pandemic.
Personal financial wellbeing
For many, the challenges of the pandemic have brought issues of business protection front-of-mind.
If you’re running a small to medium enterprise, how do you ensure business continuity if you lose a key person? Entrepreneurs are often so busy running their businesses that they miss out key business protection elements. This series of videos with Arbuthnot Latham’s Head of Wealth Planning, Steve Pennington sheds light on the crucial elements that many entrepreneurs miss.
At a time when so much of the world stood still, it also gave people a chance to look more closely at their own personal legacy and future planning. Issues as wide-ranging as inheritance tax, pensions, power of attorney, and legacy planning can be easily resolved and give peace of mind to those whose focus has shifted onto their own future wellbeing.
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