New normal kicks in

39% of firms ‘will stick with changes under lockdown’

homeworking flickr

Working at home is likely to become permanent at some firms

Companies say they are likely to stick with many of the changes they have made to their way of operating during the lockdown.

Four out of ten said their organisation will not return to their previous way of working and instead will make working from home and a greater focus on digital services a permanent feature.

Businesses have been innovating in response to the lockdown, with almost one in six of those polled in a UK-wide survey reporting that they had launched a new product or service due to the circumstances.

The majority of these were related to the country’s medical response, from producing hand gel to procuring PPE.

Meanwhile, with digital skills being put under pressure like never before, more than a third of those surveyed by the Institute of Directors were likely to use the next three months to pursue online training for their staff.

Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The coronavirus crisis is throwing up colossal challenges for business, but directors are nothing if not adaptable.

“Lockdown means few businesses can operate as they used to and, as a result, many companies are finding a way to innovate through the obstacles. The solutions they create might just end up becoming the new normal.

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“Some changes, such as distancing on production lines or providing PPE to staff are virus-related necessities.

“Others, in particular making services digital and more flexible working, bring benefits of their own.

“With it looking likely that restrictions will continue in some form for months, more and more directors will fundamentally change their business models.”

Mr Morgan added: “The country’s digital and management skills are under the spotlight, and despite everything, there is still appetite among businesses to help their people continue developing.

Malcolm Cannon

Malcolm Cannon: businesses are responding to the current climate

Malcolm Cannon, national director of IoD Scotland, said it is both inevitable and encouraging that businesses are responding to the current climate through innovation and adaptation.

“The continuing drive by directors to improve both their organisation and themselves should reassure the Scottish public that we will come through this crisis not only better-informed but also better-prepared for any future challenges we might face. 

“Boards should encourage as much online training as possible both for staff and directors to improve their knowledge and resilience, in preparation for the  post-Covid recovery and inevitable growth phases.”

Full survey results

Which, if any, of the following apply to your organisation due to the lockdown? (464 respondents)

We have adapted to provide a different product/service, specifically related to the medical response to coronavirus9%
We have adapted to provide a different product/service, specifically unrelated to the medical response to coronavirus8%
We have made changes to enable us to continue our existing products/services that we intend to continue after lockdown ends39%
None of the above44%

Over the next three months, how likely are you to pursue online professional development courses for your employees? (1003 respondents)

Very likely12%
Quite likely22%
Neither likely nor unlikely18%
Quite unlikely14%
Very unlikely23%
Don’t know10%

Survey conducted between 17-24 April 2020

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