27 May 2020

Post Lockdown: will it be business as usual?

Submitted by Saskia Schuldig
Post Lockdown: will it be business as usual?

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted many businesses in South Africa. Stats SA reports that 42.2% of the country’s companies have stressed the depletion of financial resources. In turn, the South African government provided SMME relief funding to assist enterprises financially. In cases where businesses have been able to operate, the lockdown has proven to be a test as companies have had to adapt to remote working and social distancing.

The question that many South Africans are asking is, what will life look like after lockdown? 1-grid CEO and industry expert, Thomas Vollrath, suggests that “one of the most prominent outcomes of lockdown has been the emergence of working from home. This has introduced an opportunity for businesses to develop hybrid working strategies whereby employees are able to work remotely and in the office throughout the week”.  If companies adopt this method it could mean that employees will be spending less time and money on travelling. In turn, this may have a positive impact on the environment and the personal lives of the employees.

Based on studies and statistics, here are additional patterns that may be prevalent in tiering from level to level and after lockdown:

An increase in online shopping
Based on the means of transmission of COVID-19 and social distancing, customers will opt to shop online. There has been a reported surge in online shopping since the national lockdown, and this is a trend that is projected to increase steadily. Additionally, brick and mortar businesses will have to take more precautions with their hygiene practices to ensure customer safety at all times.

The increased importance of digital presence & technology
As the demand for virtual communication increases, so will online business trade. Businesses must have a digital presence to communicate with their customers effectively. The COVID-19 pandemic has displayed how essential a digital presence is for all companies.   1-grid CEO, Thomas Vollrath states that we have seen a substantial increase in domain registrations since March 2020, which indicates that businesses understand the importance of an online presence. With a suitable hosting provider; website and email product, you can effectively move your business online and communicate with an array of audiences.

Employee behaviour and interaction will be different
It is evident throughout a number of psychology studies that we are social beings, driven by communication. However, with the implications of COVID-19, social distancing was crucial. Lockdown has forced businesses to be agile and enable employees to work remotely. For some, it has been a measurement of productivity, and for others, it has revealed areas of improvement. These areas present opportunities for businesses to pick apart what has worked in the past (pre-COVID-19) and what will no longer serve the company moving forward.

Increased emphasis on collaboration tools
During the lockdown, businesses have had to rely heavily on collaborative tools to resume their daily tasks and communications. These tools include email applications; planning applications; instant messengers and video conferencing applications. Tech Republic reported that downloads of collaborative applications such as Zoom, Slack and Microsoft teams increased by over 30% since March 2020.  Business owners and their employees have been exposed to the importance of having efficient collaboration tools to carry out effective communication. Therefore, the continued use of the collaborative tools will prove necessary; however, in some instances such as video calling, a decline will be expected as we venture back to our offices.

Email communication
The importance and effectiveness of email communication has been reaffirmed, as this is a substantial means of communication in lockdown. 

The workplace has transitioned to being in the comfort of your home, and social scientists indicate that the creation of separation between work and leisure is essential. By creating a work culture that requires people to be available at all hours, employees may be demotivated in an already stressful environment. Thus, it is essential to respect the nature of working hours within the circumstance of the content. 

We are yet to come to grips with the full impact of the global pandemic. For years to come businesses and people, in general, will recount life as ‘pre and post’ Coronavirus. With all the uncertainty we’re facing, one thing is for certain, we cannot afford to go back to life as it was before the pandemic.