Jul 24th 2020

Now and next: The impact of COVID-19 on businesses 

Whether you are a big giant or an early-stage startup, the shockwave effects sent through the economy by the recent pandemic have been felt by all. The UK economy shrunk by 20.4% in April this year with 17% of high-growth companies critically affected and over 7.5 million people having been furloughed.

But as we begin to open up, we can take a step back and look at how businesses adapted, the positive outcomes from the crisis, and how your business can start preparing for the future. 

How businesses adapted

In order to sail through these new, unchartered waters, the first port-of-call has been to respond to the immediate challenges. 

Christine Lagard, President of the European Central Bank says that “Given the nature of the crisis, all hands should be on deck, all available tools should be used.” 

Workplace norms have temporarily shifted to remote working, with even several tech giants entertaining a permanent move to an altered workforce. Businesses have therefore had to align people from the bottom up in order to achieve the necessary goals to survive. They turned to tech for more streamlined processes that help to make sure everything is centralised to stay on top of things. 

Companies have sought to reshape their businesses to align with evolving demand and find new growth pathways. An example of this is the charity Beam, who uses technology to help homeless people into work. Beam adjusted its business model to cope, refocusing efforts to help the homeless into key worker roles and expanding its service to help the wider group affected by the pandemic. 

What is clear, is that the pandemic has sped up what was already coming – the rise of the tech industry. 

The success of tech

Whilst COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on businesses across the globe it has also been a catalyst for digital transformation. A report by Beauhurst showed that 60% of AI startups are currently at low risk and a whopping 27% positively affected

Just take a look at Babylon, one of the companies on our Tempo platform, which has skyrocketed in popularity as a result of lockdown. Babylon is one of the UK’s 22 visible unicorn companies. It has experienced both a surge in demand and one of the 9% creating job opportunities. The same can be seen for the tech company Zoom which has jumped from 10 million users at the start of 2020 to 200 million by the end of March. It’s companies such as these that are powering ahead and have been able to move fast and snap up the great talent that has been let go. 

But it doesn’t stop at the top. There are many younger tech startups that have also been positively affected. From the newest collaboration tools to pioneering ways to connect safely, there are early-stage companies, such as Hopin, that are taking on the pandemic by a storm with a whole host of innovations. 

What we can take from this is that, while a lot of companies have plummeted as a result of the crisis, many were able to adapt and develop to cope, remaining ahead of the curve. 

How you can prepare for what’s next  

In this uncertain world, your company must undergo a degree of reinvention and become more agile in order to remain resilient and maintain momentum. If you want to thrive you need to bring forward your strategic planning efforts into the immediate future.

You should start by putting in place a system to deal with evolving business impact risks. Then, once that is in place, you should assess what went well and what are areas that your business needs to improve upon. Taking time to put together a comprehensive plan for going forward. 

Part of this plan should involve the shaping of your workforce. Your business should look to fill the gaps and prioritise the reskilling of your teams, adopting a do-it-yourself attitude to come out ahead. 

This process of effective evaluation and strategic forward planning will help ensure you are on the right path towards organisational resilience.

Bringing it all together

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown us all into a world of total uncertainty – with many businesses falling to the wayside. But it’s had a positive impact on companies that were able to stay one step ahead in the game. The key to the future is shaping business strategy, adopting the innovative tools technology has to offer, and restructuring organisations to achieve long-term goals. By doing so the best and the brightest will come out stronger than ever to lead the charge through the new normal. 

If you want to see how other companies have been doing, check out our blog on life at Butternut Box during COVID-19.