Impact Of Social Distancing On Businesses
The year 2020 will be an unforgettable one that will surely go down in the pages of history as one of the most eventful years ever witnessed. The year started with the scare of the covid-19 virus which swiftly turned into a global pandemic, the effects of which were seen in India from March itself. Owing to the contagious nature of the virus, it’s deadly effect and lack of in-depth knowledge regarding it, the virus and the subsequent pandemic brought the world to a standstill, with it several non-essential businesses too. The nation-wide lockdown imposed changed the business landscape of the country overnight.
This unexpected and extreme situation brought with it several safety concerns to be considered for businesses to operate post the lockdown. These safety concerns have also subsequently transformed consumer behaviors and warrant the need for businesses to alter their business practices too. The chief precautionary measures that businesses to keep in mind are
- To maintain a hygienic work environment by routinely sanitising premises and equipment
- Ensuring employees are in masks and gloves and sanitising themselves and surfaces they touch after regular intervals
- Considering the safety of the customers by monitoring their temperatures and sanitising their hands too, as well as insisting on masks
- Ensuring that the employees and customers maintain sufficient social distance
The main hurdle for businesses post lockdown is to operate efficiently keeping the social distancing norms in mind.
Impact Of Social Distancing Displayed By Consumers
Initially the impact of social distancing observed by the businesses was that consumers panicked and indulged in panic purchasing. This behaviour disrupted the demand and supply equation. On one end while some consumers resorted to panic buying, others stopped stepping out for purchases and sought home-made or alternative measures for all their requirements. The social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic brought about these changes in the daily lives and consumption practices of consumers.
The onus is now on businesses to handle the impact of social distancing on consumers as they themselves chart a course of action to operate their businesses keeping the new normal in mind.
Economic Impact Of Social Distancing On Businesses
Businesses were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown enforced globally to contain the spread of the virus. Many believe that this has brought about an economic slump that will take considerable time to recover.
As a matter of fact, several business owners felt that the COVID-19 situation and the resulting social distancing has a “high to very high” level impact on their business and about 70% of the businesses surveyed expected a degrowth sales in the fiscal year 2020-21.
But analysis has also revealed that when compared to the loss that would have been incurred in case human lives were lost would amount to much more than the loss incurred owing to the impact of social distancing and the pandemic. In other words “economic benefits of lives saved substantially outweighs the value of the projected losses to the economy”. Infact, with the use of epidemiological and economic forecasting to perform a rapid benefit-cost analysis, study authors indicated net benefits of about $5.2 trillion globally based on the social distancing measures.
Positive Impact Of Social Distancing For Businesses
The impact of social distancing on businesses must not be viewed as a hurdle and it must not imply complete lockdown of the business either. Contrarily, businesses can use this time productively to improve their business, its products or services and undertake customer engagement programs. Businesses can even contribute towards social causes and play a social role by showing empathy, participating in donation drives and donating, sponsoring hospitals, helping public authorities to raise awareness about the coronavirus among people, providing food and essential items to the needy or even distributing or making masks and sanitisers.
Businesses can utilise the lockdown phase to connect with their customers through surveys and questionnaires via email, phone calls or through messages. This will help them maintain their connection with customers and also aid improvement by getting to know the feedback, requirements and demands of the customers.
The positive impact of social distancing on businesses is that they can utilise the time to invest in improving the business. They can create a website or diversify their product line or even purchase the much needed equipment or acquire skills and training that can help the business in the long run. For instance businesses can opt for a digital presence or enroll for a digital payment gateway or create an alternate product that has a demand in the present times, etc. These changes might require an investment which can be attained by making a request for MSME loans via deAsra.
Adapting To Social Distancing
Apart from contributing towards social causes and improving the business, another impact of social distance is that they can push businesses to adapt to the new scenario and practice the business operations keeping the new normal in mind.
Businesses can carry out their operations innovatively, by adopting technology and novel marketing strategies. Digital technology has been a boon, especially in these times when businesses can continue functioning even during the social distancing times by embracing the advanced technologies.
Industries like food, beauty, automobiles and like so have been the most affected by the new normal. It’s a challenge to get back on track for them. For example, in order to restart catering business there are a number of guidelines and norms that the FBOs have to stick to keep the business running. Similarly, for a salon business measures like operation management and hygeine are just a few factors from the guidelines for restarting beauty buisness.
Now a retail businesses can sell their products via their website or by enrolling on e-commerce websites and apps, to generate sales while maintaining a physical distance. Additionally, they can even give a real time virtual tour or display of the product to enable customers to make faster decisions while taking care of social distancing norms. Coaching classes, tuitions, cooking classes, music classes, etc other skills that can be taught via video sharing apps such as Zoom, Skye, Teams or Hangout can help these businesses to continue operating while adhering to safety protocols. Creating videos and tutorials to reach out to customers in a socially distant manner is another way for businesses to operate, especially service oriented businesses. Businesses can explore various options of how to adapt to the new situation in order to continue operating. And for this they can approach deAsra to avail services for small business which will help them to face the impact of social distancing head-on and positively.
The impact of social distancing on businesses is unpredicted but one that can be turned into a positive golden opportunity for the businesses. It gives businesses the time to study their existing business practices, chalk out improvement plans, implement long pending changes and adapt to the new ways of operating and carrying out sales. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way and with the assistance of deAsra, small businesses too will sail through the social distancing times, heading towards a brighter future.