COVID-19 Business Impact: Changing Perspectives

There is no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do things forever. What used to be a simple commute to the office, or popping out to grab a sandwich on your lunch break, are now a lot more complicated than they used to be.

And while this new way of doing things is essential to protect ourselves and prevent another outbreak, it certainly takes some getting used to. 

But what about how we work? At the beginning of March, the United Kingdom was put into lockdown, and we were advised to work from home if possible. And, as people all over the country sat down at their dining room tables or ordered desks from online retailers and got to work, the question that came to mind is, ‘why wasn’t this a possibility the entire time’?

covid 19

Of course, being able to work from home wasn’t the case for everybody, and key workers still had to make the trip into their working environments. But adjustments were made here also, and the usual working procedures that they had become so familiar with were suddenly flipped upside down to ensure their safety as they went about their work.

While we’re not completely out of the woods as far as Coronavirus is concerned, the ‘R’ rate has remained at a steady, low figure, and as such, businesses have started calling their employees back into the office. 

But how are businesses starting to change their perspectives when it comes to how their employees work to keep them safe, whilst adhering to government guidelines to prevent a further outbreak?

Social Distancing

If there’s one phrase that we’ve all had to learn in 2020, it’s social distancing. Keeping a meter or two away from your co-workers can be tricky in some settings, though, especially if you’re used to working in a traditionally crowded environment such as a pub or a restaurant. 

In these situations, businesses have compiled with social distancing advice by removing the number of tables and limiting the number of customers they allow in at one time. This does come with the unfortunate side-effect of reduced profits; however, many places are also limiting the amount of time each booking has the table for, allowing them to clean and sanitize before opening it up to another group of diners.

Working from Home

Social distancing in an office environment is a little bit harder, but can still be accomplished through the removal of desks. However, in most cases, employers have allowed their employees to continue working from home as they have been doing since lockdown was first implemented.

Zoom calls have replaced the usual boardroom meetings, and working from home has allowed everything to become a little more streamlined than it was before. Some employers have even seen an increase in productivity, noting that fewer office-based distractions have prevented interruptions throughout the day. 

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic certainly hasn’t seen the demise of the office block, it’s certainly provided a lesson for businesses in thinking outside of the box a bit more and reaffirming their trust in their employees work ethic. 

Of course, larger businesses will occasionally require employees to come into the office, but this shouldn’t be done at the expense of social distancing. A rota system is a good idea for offices with large numbers of employees, allowing some to work from home and bringing others into the office on certain days of the week. 

Other Safety Measures 

For retail and other businesses that require face-to-face interaction with customers, additional safety measures are being implemented alongside social distancing to ensure the safety of the employees and the customer.

Many shops now have counter-to-ceiling length plastic screens at the checkout, acting as a barrier between the employees and the customer and preventing any potentially harmful air droplets from being contracted. 

Face masks are also becoming mandatory around the country when shopping, as well as on public transport, in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus when in close proximity with other people. 

A lot of businesses that have employees who are handling goods or interacting with customers are also beginning to provide disposable gloves as part of extra safety precautions.

Customer Safety

A business has a responsibility to take care of both its staff and its customers, and during uncertain times a customer that feels as though they are being kept safe is one that is almost guaranteed to return.

Many establishments that deal with customers on a face-to-face basis are now installing hand sanitizer dispensers and entry and exit points to the building. This gives the customer the peace of mind that the business is taking things seriously, and gives them the confidence to shop there safely. 

Floor stickers with social distance spaces or directing a one-way system around the shop floor also help customers to feel looked after. 

A lot of businesses are finding that providing these measures also help encourage their customers to adhere to social distancing rules when they are inside the shop, and gives them a clear indication of what they need to do inside the premises in what can often be a confusing situation. 

Growing Business

The sad truth is that the Coronvirus pandemic has seen a lot of businesses lose staff, make budget cuts, and struggle to operate as consumer demand falls. But, as perspectives on how businesses operate changes, the way in which they continue to grow and add value to the economy will also evolve. 

COVID-19 is still a threat, and without a readily-available vaccination, a business needs to think differently and provide the appropriate precautionary measures for its employees and for its customers. But, with a decreased cash flow and having faced several months of not being able to trade, affording essential safety equipment is a new struggle. 
One great way for a business to continue to grow and to get back on its feet following the pandemic is to look to investors for support, as Javad Marandi explains. The more support a business gets, the more well-equipped it can be to take on the new challenges it will face over the next years as we start to change the way we work.

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