March 23rd 2020 is a date that will go down in UK history. The date the country went into lockdown, with the tightest restrictions on personal movement since World War 2. The country isn’t likely to get back to anything approaching normal until at least the end of the summer, if not 2021. A vaccine isn’t expected until at least early 2021. So the question is: what will the new normal look like? These are our thoughts…
Increased levels of remote working
Large numbers of companies across London has to make big investments in a very short space of time to enable their teams to work from home. Were you one of them? That investment has to make a return and we believe that will come in the form of more remote working.
No productivity drop
Many companies don’t offer remote working opportunities because they believe that remote working encourages people to work less productively. Figures have always shown the opposite of this and research around the lockdown will continue to show that’s the case. As more directors and business owners realise this, they will allow more people to work remotely or from home.
Reduced CAPEX costs
Local server infrastructures, and often the licensing, are assets on the balance sheets and are capital expenditure (CAPEX) costs. They have to be depreciated over X years and then replaced. Remote working move many of these costs to operational expenditure (OPEX). Nothing is added to the balance sheet and costs are tax deductible in the year they are incurred. The money that would have been used for a capital IT project can stay in the bank – for emergencies…
How many people can honestly say they enjoy commuting to work? Overcrowded commuter trains, tubes you have to squeeze into and buses that take an eternity to crawl along their routes. With the average London commuter travelling for 74 minutes a day, this isn’t a pleasant use of time, or a cheap one. Rail commuters are spending up to 20% of their take home pay to get to and from work. Increased remote working means those same staff can be less tired (not travelling), more relaxed (not travelling), more productive (likely to start work a little earlier, plus the productivity boost from being happier) and richer (no travelling). Why wouldn’t they be happier.
As businesses look to recoup the money invested at the start of the lockdown, they will look at office space. It wasn’t needed for X weeks, so why do they need so much going forward? Only a brave few will dispense with offices completely, but many will shrink them down, remove the desk per person set up and benefit from reduced rent and rates. Those who are in long term leases or own the buildings may move desks further apart, as a precaution at least for the foreseeable future.
More casual dress codes
Think back on all the Zoom/Teams/Hangout/Skype calls you have endured over the weeks of the lockdown. How many ties did you see? How many formal shirts? Now think how many t-shirts you saw. For the vast majority of people, what they wear makes little, or no, difference to the quality of their work. So why dress formally when you don’t have to?
Retail as an experience
The retail sector has suffered badly in the lockdown, even more than before. The lockdown meant they had to close, so more people are shopping online, hitting the high streets even harder. So why should people go to a shop anymore? We believe it will be to simply experience what they want to buy. How many people do you know who will buy a sofa without having sat on it first? Do you buy shoes without trying them on? Is that jumper going to be soft, or itchy? Can I get the quality of customer service to help me choose from a set of filters or an AI bot?
Retailers who can combine online and experience offline will be the ones that survive long term once we commence whatever the new normal will be.
Testing and Training
Cyber security data clearly shows there has been a massive increase in cyber crime attempts. March alone saw a 667% increase in malware attacks. Without that security blanket of an office, companies will invest in their staff, both in terms of IT security training and in how to adapt to a remote working life. Ethical phishing companies and training companies will be used far more, simply to ensure that home workers aren’t relaxing their security standards – and indeed know what to be looking for in the first place. Our recent article on how to spot a phishing email may be useful for you at this point – click here!
A more green and healthy approach
Take a look skywards to see the impact the worldwide lockdown is having – no plane trails. Before the lockdown, there was a big push towards removing plastic from everyday usage. Whilst that has stopped for now (as people want to be sure nobody else has touched the food they are buying), we believe there will be a renewed surge when we get out again. It may not happen until a vaccine is in place, but we believe it will happen soon.
People will be doing more exercise too. Every morning and evening, you see lots of people out on their bikes or going for a run. They cannot go to the gym, but they can exercise in ways that don’t cost a monthly subscription. The time that used to be spent commuting can now be used for exercise – why wouldn’t they?
So that’s nine ways we believe things are going to change as we emerge from lockdown into the new normal. What are your thoughts on this?