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How COVID-19 has affected businesses in the UK

As we all know by now, COVID-19 has had life changing effects on the way of life of many people around the world. In the UK, we have been one of the worst hit countries by Coronavirus, and it is showing no signs of stopping. 

To add to this, the government has proven itself to be vague, and late to the party when it comes to important decisions to protect lives and livelihoods. 

 

Just three weeks ago the British government were issuing billboards and advertisements, costing millions of pounds encouraging people to get back to work and into the office. This was seen as an attempt to help revive the city centres and town spaces that have largely been deserted for 6 months. 

Now, as of the 22 September; advice has changed once again which is to ‘work from home’ where possible. 

Many businesses were not prepared for this sudden U-turn of advice, and wonder why they were rushed into office working in the first place. 

 

Working from home

As a result of this – many businesses are struggling to cope with the ever changing landscape of work, and the reality that home working will be here to stay. 

Working from home has proved to be the key way for office workers to continue to have a job and contribute to the business while staying safe at home. While this is a brilliant idea, many other businesses are reluctant to entertain this way of working. 

It also benefits workers, as they do not have to commute, which cuts down on greenhouse gases, as well as boosts employee morale. “Starting with trust and giving employees great autonomy and flexibility allows people to feel independent and empowered while still feeling like a part of something bigger. This leads to happy, loyal employees with a rich quality of life, which in turn leads to an amazing culture.” – Larry English

 

Benefits of working from home

  • Less commuting
  • Saving money
  • Environmental impact
  • Customisable office space
  • Increased productivity
  • Healthier work life balance

 

Staff shortage

In addition to this, there have been staff shortages. If certain staff wish to isolate themselves at home this completely removes them from the workforce if they are not able to work from home. This greatly affects business, and the old ways of working. The virus has also caused mass redundancies and people out of work, which results in a weaker economy. 

Thus, this has a knock on effect on sales. Often people are calling with queries and questions about products, or service and need to have their questions answered. This being said there has been a drop in turn over from many businesses.

We spoke to one of the managers “Dean Signori” from Homes Direct 365 an Online Furniture Store in the UK who have seen everything mentioned here happen in real time to the business. Traffic increased exponentially due to people being at home more and online shopping, which lead to increased demand to the logistics side of the business both warehousing and staffing. This then reflected in online reviews as the company struggled to keep up with orders and grow at the same time.

“The growth has remained and the staffing issues have been resolved somewhat along with logistics but it has been an uphill battle that luckily we have benefitted from!” – says Dean from Homes Direct 365 –

In addition to this, there have also been complete business closures in the hospitality sector, because of lack of demand. For example the Upper crust chain that is predominantly only in Train stations and airports. Because nobody has visited these areas for upwards of six months now, these businesses have been largely destroyed and find themselves going into administration.  

 

Supply chain

There is also a huge issue with the supply chain. If places are doing business with china or overseas at this time, they need to be aware that there will be delays and potential quarantining of goods before they are legally allowed to be delivered. 

There is also the issue of delivery – because of the social distancing it means that there can often only be one delivery driver in the car at one time, and if they are delivering something large, it can be very heavy and difficult to lift and deliver it. These are all things that perhaps are not first thought about. But they do affect the supply chain, and in turn, reviews. 

 

Company reviews

Company reviews have taken a beating because delivery times are up, as of a postal surge and delay in the postal service. In addition to this, if it is a hospitality place, or a bar, these wait times may also be slower because of taking all of the necessary government precautions, and reviews in places like bars, pubs and restaurants have also taken a hit. 

 

More COVID measures 

In addition to this the extra measures also take up time out of a workday. Making sure that everybody is socially distanced by 2 meters plus can mean there is a lot less space in the office that is free. There is also the extra cleaning and sanitation protocol that can take time out of the day. 

 

What to do now?

What now? Boris Johnson stated these measures could go on for 6 months if the spread was not curbed, so the reality is that COVID is here to stay, and we have to try and do our best to cope with the virus. It has affected businesses, yes, but there are some businesses that are finding ways around it, and ways to work with it. Such as hospitality companies doing delivery services, and more direct to table services through apps and such.

Which begs the question, how would we have dealt with COVID-19 without technology? No working from home or delivery apps, Even no test and tracing applications on phones… The fact is we will never know. But it has certainly been possible to retain that bit of normalisation and life as we knew it through technology across 2020. Businesses are due to pick up again in the run up to christmas, and hopefully there will be an economic bounce back by the time 2021 comes around. 

 

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