Back at the beginning of May, we began talking about COVID-19 and what life after lockdown would look like. After a brilliant turnout for our webinar that delved into the experiences of key industry leaders, we decided to do some further research. We wanted to understand the broader experiences, feelings and plans of those in our network.

The results were surprising. Whilst COVID-19 has undoubtedly had negative consequences for many of us, the picture isn’t as gloomy as you might first think.

With demand up for some brands, and some leading their businesses through adaptive innovation, the lockdown may in fact have a positive side to it. Here are a few insights into why…

Demand

The situation really varied when it came to demand for products and services. Among our survey respondents, more experienced a decrease than an increase overall:

  • Just over 30% said their demand had significantly reduced
  • Around 26% stated that demand had somewhat reduced

Approximately 13% claimed that the pandemic hadn’t had much of an impact – their demand levels remained about the same.

Yet there were some winners in the COVID-19 environment:

  • 13% stated that their demand had somewhat increased
  • Over 17% said it had substantially increased
  • 48% of businesses experienced opportunity

Evidently, some businesses have been able to see success by cutting their cloth to suit the situation and boost their chances of survival.

Innovation

Our survey showed that businesses implemented various measures to deal with the pandemic. Some switched their processes, for instance – adapting their product and service range to fit the current situation. Others implemented new and emerging technologies and different ways of working to ensure that they could maintain continuity.

Such agility, however, does depend to some extent on having a multi-skilled workforce. With this sort of team in place, businesses can quickly react to the fluctuating demands of their market. This is certainly a trend we noticed – among both those we interviewed and our own client base.

“There’s definitely been an increase in demand from our clients for candidates with transferable skills, showing that the workforce of the future will need to be one that’s multi-skilled. Plus, they should be able to unlearn and relearn as a matter of course throughout their careers – this is essential in order to keep up with the dynamic demand of the modern and post-COVID-19 workplace.”

Wayne Brophy, Managing Director of Cast UK

Light at the end of the tunnel?

As a likely result of both an increase in demand and a renewed focus on innovation, there was actually more optimism among our respondents than you’d expect:

  • 5% were very optimistic
  • Almost 40% were somewhat so

This was certainly a positive and unanticipated finding. Naturally, though, this optimism wasn’t felt across the board:

  • 17% stated that they were somewhat concerned
  • 9% said that they were very worried

That leaves just over 30% who were neutral regarding this situation. The picture for the future is definitely brighter than you’d expect in a global pandemic. It may be that the situation for businesses isn’t as bad as we feared – it’s not all doom and gloom after all.

Our whitepaper covers our research findings in full. To find out the exact impact that COVID-19 has had on the business world – Read it here:

What is the 'New Normal'? Key insights from business leaders - Download our whitepaper here