A CALL-OUT to businesses to see how they have been affected during the coronavirus epidemic has seen a great response from firms so far.
The School of Management at the University of Bradford is undertaking a major research looking at how businesses have responded to Covid-19 and their plans and needs as they start to emerge from Lockdown.
To date there have been over 600 firms involved in focus groups and by responding to the survey.
Initial findings indicate that whilst that Covid has, unsurprisingly, significantly and negatively affected most businesses, one in five of the firms in the focus groups identified a positive impact on their business as a result of Covid. These businesses include those that had increased demand for products or services provide online as well as some who had been able to pivot their business to provide products or services needed during lockdown.
Whilst small firms were unprepared for a shock of this nature, the research suggests that most expect to come through the shock and have demonstrated resilience through their ability to adapt business models and move rapidly in response to Covid.
Significant changes like accelerated digital transformation and increased use of homeworking have been beneficial and had led in most cases to improvements in productivity for people who had been retained as working.
Most firms report that technology would continue to alter their strategy and operations post Covid, with changes including increased use of virtual meetings and increased sales though virtual channels. Most firms expected to maintain some levels of homeworking post Covid and firms indicated that they were already seeking to downside offices/premises as a result.
There were however a group of respondents whose businesses rely on face to face interaction with customers who struggled to adjust to Covid and have been awaiting the releasing of lockdown and clear guidance to restart their operations. Most these businesses have reported significant uncertainty over the extent and pace at which their customers will return and whether this will affect the long term viability of their businesses as a result.
Overall, most respondents expect to recover and grow their businesses post the current period, but expected this to be a long haul with participants typically think this will take two to three years and most expect business models to be significantly altered by the impact of Covid
Dr David Spicer, Project Lead and Director of Business Engagement, said “We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to the research so far, and hope that others will be able to contribute.
“We are keen for this to be as far reaching as possible and want to hear from all types and sectors of small and medium sized businesses, whether their view align with those already seen, or they can offer a new perspective.”
“The impact of the research and our findings will be influenced by the size of response that we get, and by completing this survey you will help us and other stakeholders learn the lessons for small businesses resulting from coronavirus and provide insights essential for businesses like yourselves who wish to recover and grow as Lockdown hopefully continues to ease.”
The study continues and the project team are still keen to here from other respondents. The survey should take 15-20 minutes to complete. All contributions will be confidential and anonymous. Go to: https://bradmanagement.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0vWHSoJVpx04Ymx
Participants in the research will have the option to receive a copy of the findings once the research is completed.