Since it first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the Coronavirus has transformed almost all aspects of modern life and left a trail of emotional and financial upheaval in its wake around the world. Through isolation and distancing measures, COVID has made populations fearful of even the most simple and basic of everyday tasks and forced a rethink of how we live our lives.
However, while the effects of the virus have changed most areas of our lives, it could be argued they have been most noticeably felt in the business and commercial sectors. Through lockdown, people increasingly moved online for everything from staying in touch with loved ones to buying groceries and binging box sets. Perhaps more importantly, they moved online to work.
COVID, the explosion of e-commerce and the bleak future facing traditional retail
The traditional high street has been in decline for many years, battling intense competition from online retailers. However, due to the virus, many industry experts now suggest the growth of the e-com sector could have been accelerated by as much as four to five years. Indeed, industry behemoth Amazon reported a staggering 37% increase in sales through COVID – a sure sign of changing habits.
Psychologists suggest we have undergone a monumental shift change through Coronavirus in terms of how we view online shopping. Much like other aspects of the pandemic (such as elbow-coughing or keeping a general distance from others), it’s believed these patterns will endure long after the virus has passed.
If traditional retail was in trouble previously, it now faces a considerably more precarious future going forward – even when the spread of the virus is brought under control.
COVID and the potential end of Monday to Friday, 9-5 culture
Coronavirus hasn’t just changed retail – it’s also affected other areas of work, in particular, office-based roles. Through lockdown, remote-working over networks became the norm, with companies coming to rely increasingly on their cloud computing services. While strange at first, it seems there were considerable advantages for both employers and employees through this new style of work:
Employees: Many employees stated enjoying the better work/life balance afforded by working from home and reported enjoying more time with friends and family (while sticking to appropriate distancing guidelines). Workers also enjoyed not having to endure the traditional rush-hour commute – plus eliminating the costs of travel. As our city centers emptied, those living in urban areas described lower congestion levels and cleaner city center spaces. There was also a marked reduction in pollution outputs as most travel services ground to a halt. Home-working wasn’t just good for staff it seems – it was good for the environment too.
Employers: Meanwhile, many employers found productivity levels increased through home-working. They also enjoyed the considerable cost savings afforded from lower rent, rates, and utility bills. As we slowly emerge from the worst of the virus, it seems highly likely that firms will be unwilling to simply move back to habits of old and the traditional 9-5 office environment. Indeed, Google has extended its remote-working policy to this summer (with the potential for making it standard policy), while Twitter has stated its employees will no longer have to attend work in a traditional office setting.