Quarter of firms to implement changes made during pandemic permanently – survey

Working from home study
Working from home study (PA Wire)
0:01am, Tue 20 Oct 2020
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More than half of British firms who have made changes to their business model in response to the Covid-19 outbreak expect to keep them for the long term, while a quarter believed they will be made permanent.

New research by the Royal Mail found more than seven in 10 firms have changed the way they operate as a result of the pandemic.

A YouGov survey of 2,077 business decision makers found 54% had introduced remote working, and 45% adopted social-distancing measures.

Some 57% of business owners believed the changes they have made will be implemented on a long-term basis, while 25% anticipated that they will be kept permanently.

The most common changes that business leaders expected will be kept on permanently include selling more products or services online (41%), new online customer service options (39%) and additional delivery services (31%).

One in five retail businesses have introduced a delivery option for their products, while 16% of companies in the hospitality and leisure sector launched a takeaway or click and collect service.

It is truly inspiring to see how British businesses have risen to the not insignificant challenges they have faced, and have adapted to rapidly changing customer needs

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at the Royal Mail, said: “Organisations of all sizes have faced unprecedented challenges this year, and have had to demonstrate real ingenuity, resourcefulness and mettle to make it through.

“It is truly inspiring to see how British businesses have risen to the not insignificant challenges they have faced, and have adapted to rapidly changing customer needs.”

Around 52% of business owners believed that their organisation is moving to more remote working on a permanent basis in future, having implemented it during lockdown.

The survey conducted between August 17-26 found 23% of retail businesses have chosen to sell more products or services online since the start of the pandemic, while 8% have moved to trade solely online.

The findings correlate with figures from e-commerce website eBay which saw an increase of 335% in new businesses joining the platform at its peak in June compared to last year.

Neil McLauchlan, director of shipping and logistics at eBay, said: “Since lockdown and with the high street closed, more and more buyers have turned to online for their essential items and now their everyday needs.

“In response to these new buyers, and as a result of their physical shops either closing or receiving less footfall, businesses have pivoted and/or accelerated their plans to online as a way of generating sales.”

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