The COVID-19 pandemic was earth-shattering for businesses, with successive lockdowns, furlough programs and a sudden transition to online markets spelling the end for many companies. The push for working from home changed the internal dynamics of corporations permanently, while a lens was placed over the unsustainable ways in which we consume. As we emerge from the pandemic, our business landscape is altered irrevocably – a disaster for some, but an opportunity to others. How can we leverage the after-effects of coronavirus to create new business opportunities? Below, we will explore some of the various changes observed, and ways in which they can work for new business strategies.
Working-From-Home and Hybrid Working
At the outset of the pandemic, the first lockdown required all but essential members of the UK’s workforce to stay at home. This spelled disaster for companies without the immediate infrastructure to support remote working – but leaps in technology for video-calls and remote file-sharing enabled many to adjust quickly. As society began to return, many workers are calling for a continuation of working from home, or a hybrid form.
The effect of working-from-home is that many suburban and rural communities are seeing the spending money usually reserved for central business districts, giving rise to the ‘secondary city’ phenomenon. The result is a boom in the creation of new businesses in smaller areas, and the opportunity to capitalise without the need to spend on the inflated city-centre rental market.
Managing Business Space
Coincident with the continued push for working from home and the ‘secondary city’ phenomenon is the attention paid by companies on reducing their overheads. Retailers are closing down physical stores to focus fully on the digital marketplace, while large offices are reducing the space they rent to account for the number of their workforce no longer using them.
But space still has an important part to play, even in an increasingly online world. Restaurants catering exclusively to online food ordering services such as Deliveroo make use of ‘dark kitchens’ to fulfil orders; online retailers make use of temporary warehouses to store and package goods. Temporary buildings are an excellent, cheap and low-commitment way to give your new business space, without incurring rental costs and business rates.
The Manufacture and Supply Chain
The lockdown of ports and airports, as well as the increased costs incurred by Brexit and a shift in consumer attitudes, has resulted in a country more focused on internal production and manufacturing – and aiming to be less reliant on imports costly for the treasury and the environment. Consumers are more interested in pursuing local and sustainable produce, a helpful trend for the consolidation of supply chains in the country, and a viable opportunity for an entrepreneur to insert themselves – whether by facilitating supply chains, or securing crucial manufacturing assets to provide for certain demands.