The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses operate beyond all recognition. The virus itself has been a human tragedy of massive proportions – yet while 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, the forced changes have made businesses rethink the way they function in a positive way.
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The practical changes needed to make businesses safer in view of the pandemic has spurred them into making positive adaptations that otherwise might not have been considered. Subsequently, when things return to ‘normal’, many of the new practices will remain in place.
What changes have been made?
The main changes to business premises have been making them Covid-safe. These include introducing hand-sanitising stations for customers and employees to use regularly, changing shop layouts to avoid bottlenecks and overcrowding and improving ventilation in the workplace.
To prevent overcrowding, retailers such as supermarkets have introduced the traffic light system automatic doors to manage queues. This has replaced a member of staff having to stand outside monitoring the queue on a “one in, one out” basis. The doors have a green light above when the store isn’t filled to capacity, so more people can walk in. However, if the red light is visible, it means the store is already full and customers have to wait outside until someone has left and the green light is illuminated again.
Many businesses, especially those considered non-essential who have had to close during the lockdowns, have done more trading online. Going digital has become very important to keep the business afloat during these challenging times.
This has meant some retailers have had to upgrade their website and point of sale technology to enable online checkouts. This includes cafes and restaurants, who have been able to continue trading only by selling takeaway meals.
It’s unlikely that normal indoor dining will return to pre-pandemic levels in restaurants for months, so many businesses have had to develop a whole new long-term economic model, optimising takeaway, delivery and drive-through options.
All over the UK, businesses are re-engineering their products and services in this way to adapt to the vastly different trading conditions. Adapting to what has been called the “new normal” is the best way to survive.
As a result of the pandemic, business insurance providers are amending their policies to cover the changes. For example, they understand that some business owners and employees are having to work from home, as their regular premises have closed altogether.
Most insurers are automatically extending businesses’ existing policy cover to provide the same level of protection at home as they would in the regular workplace, so employees can carry out their normal business activities and remain covered – including liability, public liability and equipment cover.
The pandemic has prompted many changes for banks. Risk-management teams are working extra-hard due to the increased demands for loans and overdrafts, as customers are suffering Covid-related reduced finances. Automated underwriting, using advanced software, has come into force at some banks for retail and small-business customers.
Many bank and call centre employees are working from home and customers have been encouraged to do more internet banking to reduce face-to-face transactions.
Some businesses have opted for automatic doors as a result of the pandemic. As well as being compatible with the traffic light entry system, they are also beneficial in their own right, especially for premises with high footfall.
One of the main advantages is that automatic doors reduce multiple surface contacts – a particularly important factor during the pandemic. Rather than potentially hundreds of people touching door handles to enter and leave the premises, automatic doors mean there is no need for staff or customers to touch them at all.
For sectors including supermarkets, hospitals, banks, schools, cinemas, hotels, care homes, GP surgeries and other healthcare settings, automatic doors can be of massive benefit. Automatic doors are vital for disabled people to access public premises. In addition, automatic sliding doors improve energy efficiency when compared with ordinary manual doors.
While business owners may not be in a position to afford new automatic doors at present, due to the challenging trading climate and the lockdown, it is something they may wish to consider for the future.
Should you wish to enquire or if you would like some further information, we can arrange an assessment at a suitable time in the future. Please contact our friendly team at Automatic Access – we’re always happy to have an informal chat!