This article is part of our ‘Covid-19 & the Job Market’ resource pack. View more here.
It is without a doubt that no one perceived this. The sudden onslaught of this global crisis compelled businesses to make quick decisions to safeguard the health of their businesses and employees, while also attempting to navigate this unknown territory. This brought about major changes to the job market as we know it: some laying off their workforce, others suddenly taking their business online, and offering deliveries and home offices needed to be set up.
What changes in the job market are we to expect?
What has a global pandemic brought about and what will its effects be in the long run?
Remote working becomes the norm.
“It may change the workplace forever. Everyone will need to embrace a different sort of workplace behaviour.”
Whilst we’re running on skeleton staff at our Keepmeposted offices, most of us are working from home. One of the immediate repercussions and major changes in the job market is that businesses were suddenly compelled to introduce mass remote working. Talk of remote working has been a hot topic both globally and locally. However, few local businesses took the leap and introduced it effectively prior to this outbreak. Some took a part-time remote option, others gave a monthly or even annual “allowance” for remote work. This meant that few were equipped with the infrastructure and the tools to handle the situation effectively. Thankfully, many still did opt for it even preceding government guidelines on this matter to safeguard their employees and limit the spread. Many other companies have had to implement remote-working out of immediate necessity. Remote working may become a measure to decrease traffic and increase flexibility at the workplace. Companies will need to introduce remote working policies and train their non-digitally skilled workers to be able to have a seamless transition from office to home. Another benefit to remote working is that those unnecessary one-to-one meetings are avoided and traveling for a one-day conference will become a thing of the past. One cannot dispute the benefits this has on both the businesses themselves and, of course, the climate.
The rise of e-commerce.
With many retail businesses facing the threat of a shutdown, a sudden surge of online shops and businesses taking their product offering online came about. Companies who do not update themselves in this regard are at risk of closing down. Online shopping became the new normal overnight. This is not true for retail only – but it’s relevant to many, if not all, restaurants, retailers, and even groceries around the corner. This will bring about new sorts of jobs – people handling customers’ online orders, logistics (delivery and packing of goods), return handlers, and many others.
Hand in hand with e-commerce, there are new delivery options. Companies that had previously refused to offer this service had to form plans overnight to deliver their customers’ orders. Although perhaps it’s not sustainable for all shops to offer an e-commerce website after the threat of coronavirus has receded or been eradicated, the offer to deliver door-to-door will remain an expected necessity for shops to run. Some may even choose to offer this service via telephone orders, social media or email. This will mean companies may need to react to this with an increased work-force on the delivery and packing front. One example of this is Amazon who employed 100,000 workers due to an immense increase in deliveries.
IT infrastructure – at home and online.
With more and more people working from home or remotely, we’ve seen companies advertising setting up a home office. One of the major changes to the job market will therefore be new IT requirements – both for e-commerce as well as for network and security reasons. In fact, according to the Financial Times, “Tech companies still hiring despite mass lay-offs elsewhere”. The proper infrastructure needs to be addressed in order to maintain security and the integrity of the businesses and keep up with an increase in digital sales. IT and software has been a hot industry even before all this so companies who think ahead in this regard, will come out on top.
Commercial real estate.
With many more people working remotely, businesses will rightly question their commercial real estate. Will companies need smaller offices? Has the open-office plan era come to an end? How will companies adapt to a decreased workforce at company headquarters? Will companies introduce bandwidth benefits to employees working from home? Is it financially beneficial in the long run to have fewer people at the office and more working from their own homes?
All in all, thinking ahead and pre-empting such changes in the job market will help your company be prepared in any eventuality and rank amongst industry leaders. What other changes do you think this will bring to the job market?
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