Capital Markets Corporate

July 8, 2021

Agility is king in the post-lockdown normal

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Boris Johnson made the long-awaited announcement this week that on the 19th July, life will be returning to ‘normality’. For many office workers this will mean a gradual shift over the coming months to some form of hybrid working.

The approach to hybrid working has been a mixed bag. On one end of the spectrum, there have been calls from some City institutions like Goldman Sachs, whose chief executive infamously called working from home an “aberration”, keen to get employees back to offices five days a week in full force. However, it is undeniable that the number of people commuting and working in city centre offices will not be what they used to be.

Even once the economy opens up fully, it is likely that not everyone will return to their old ways. The way we live has fundamentally changed. The rise in demand for larger homes with outdoor space further outside of city centres is further evidence of the new normal and the rush of overseas investment in property outside of London echoes this sentiment.

The knock-on effect

Our shifting working patterns have not occurred in isolation – there is always a wider impact.

Ministers have recently expressed concerns this week that despite the economy opening up, footfall across British high streets and city centres may never return to pre-pandemic levels.

Just this week, the Evening Standard newspaper reported £17.2m in losses due to the huge drop of commuters travelling into London. For a newspaper traditionally reliant on a buzzing capital of commuters, this change has been enormous. While the shift to online news consumption is nothing new, Covid-19 has accelerated a trend already at full steam.

In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, sandwich shops, travel agencies, gyms, lower league football clubs and many others took devastating hits. But businesses are agile. The ability to shift, evolve and reallocate resources has enabled some to thrive, or at least survive in a difficult time.

Pret a Manger for example is opening branches within Tesco stories in response to new ways of living, after having made various changes to its business model last year as office workers stayed at home. Greggs has even outlined plans for a new home delivery service.

As we tentatively enter the new normal later this month, adaptability is what will help businesses stay relevant. The last 16 months or so have not been easy and there’s no way of knowing whether this uncertainty will fully subside. Companies that have shown a strong record of agility will likely be best placed to prosper as we enter this next phase.

By Amy Boekstein, Account Manager at Instinctif Partners

 

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