As the Wuhan / Covid-19 coronavirus continues its relentless spread around the world – with more than 90 countries now affected – businesses are trying to determine the long-term implications on the way that we conduct business and how the virus outbreak is changing consumer habits. Here are seven examples of how things are changing.
1. Companies are evaluating their policies on staff working remotely and it’s expected that a greater percentage of both contract and full-time employees will work from home. This will have an impact on the amount or real estate that companies use, the amount of commuter traffic on streets and the ripple effect on food and beverage and retail outlets.
2. Companies are expanding their use of video-conferencing as they decrease both out-of-office and out-of-town meetings. Conferences and events that are primarily designed as networking opportunities will have to reevaluate their reasons for being in business as online corporate presentations and webinars are expanded.
3. Companies involved in all aspects of the travel industry will have to reevaluate their business structure, opportunities, and expected losses and revenues.
• Airlines – IATA expects the airline industry to lose more than $110 billion USD in 2020
• Conferences & Events – Thousands of business and consumer events are being cancelled and organizers are trying to determine when it will be safe to reschedule their events
• Cruise ships – This sector is being hard hit with thousands of cancellations as people realize that cruise ships are the perfect environment for the disease to spread
• Entertainment – Movie theatres an theme parks like Disneyland have closed, sports events are taking place without audiences, music concerts and “live” entertainment events have been cancelled and many movie and television productions have been cancelled
• Hotel revenues are down 50 ~ 80% as fewer business and consumers travel
• Retailers – Duty free shops and bars and restaurants in airports, or close to conference and exhibition venues have seen sharp decreases in their customer traffic
4. Manufacturers that have relied on a single country to make their products, such as China, and depend upon a single country supply chain will diversify their operations to multiple countries so that they can avoid disruptions to the creation, distribution and sales of their products.
5. There will be an increased use of robotics and automated processes in manufacturing and retailing. This will become a trend as companies make strategic decisions to employ fewer people so that there is less likelihood of their businesses being disrupted in the future.
6. The logistics industry will change as self-driving robotic vehicles provide on-demand delivery to drop-off points rather than home or office delivery. This will become the norm in urban areas and the use of drones will be used in rural areas.
7. Retail will change as automated retailing (self-service kiosks), self-service stores and e-commerce continue to expand. Retailers with physical outlets will also expand on the use of customer service robots to supplement and replace human employees.