For most of us 2020 was a year we will be happy to put behind us.  COVID-19 left no-one untouched – education to professional sport, healthcare and the economy. But, with some Kiwi ingenuity and teamwork, out of adversity came some positivity.

Here are 5 positives for businesses in 2020 that we can take forward into 2021.

Flexible working

Probably the biggest change in 2020 for most businesses was the move to remote working. In truth, the technology necessary to support remote working has been available for some time – it was predominately culture holding people back.

Is remote working here to stay? According to Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen, remote working is likely to be a key change for post-pandemic New Zealand with 36% of the workforce continuing to work from home in level 1.

Flexible working has many benefits – better work-life balance for employees, cost benefits for the business for real estate and services and increases in productivity due to less time spent commuting. Perhaps another positive of remote working is that the need to remain socially connected, even at work, is suddenly greater than ever and once employees return to the office, they really appreciate it.

Adapting how we do business

COVID-19 has changed the way we do business, perhaps forever. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention – and the time it took for many organisations to change to not only remote working, but also to transform other parts of the business was staggering.

Companies that adapted quickly were the winners.  Robotics and digital technology have become more commonplace. In New Zealand there was also a huge movement towards buying local and supporting local businesses, rather than buying imported products. Chooice.co.nz, a great example of this, started life in lockdown as a Facebook group for Kiwis to share New Zealand made products, and is now a fully online shop, allowing local producers to sell their wares nationwide.

Appreciation of what New Zealand has to offer

Tourism has been one of the hardest hit industries and in some areas this still remains the case. But there has been a huge movement amongst Kiwis to travel New Zealand and appreciate what it has to offer.  As a traveller it’s easy to forget that we don’t always need to travel abroad – some of the best holidays can be had just around the corner, and COVID-19 has definitely reminded us of this!

Travel bans prompted many campervan suppliers to offer once in a lifetime deals and many of the ski resorts in the South Island reported record visitor numbers in the July holidays.

Climate change

Remember lockdown? (How could we forget?) How beautifully quiet it was without cars and planes.  The speed at which we adapted to change for COVID-19 is hopeful for the environment. When the pandemic is over let’s hope that we can make some real changes for climate change too, backed by science. Buying local, travelling locally and even one month of lockdown will all have helped.  Just remember those reusable masks.

Collaboration

There is no ‘I’ in team.  It is widely acknowledged around the world that New Zealand’s team of 5 million have led the way in managing the pandemic. If you look deeper there are more amazing examples of collaboration.

Auckland Council staff helped Auckland City Mission feed the vulnerable, Auckland Transport set up 17km of cycle paths to help people exercise, Countdown employed flight centre staff, Fonterra started producing hand sanitiser from their gin distillery, Meridian donated $1m to KidsCan and closer to home neighbours helped each other out – not just to beat the virus or make a few dollars, but because it was the right thing to do. When was the last time we saw this level of country-wide collaboration?

Working collaboratively, thinking creatively, solving problems and adapting rapidly to change have been some of the key learnings from 2020. When faced with adversity, with some ingenuity and perseverance we can make the changes necessary to be successful.

Looking forward to 2021

In the spirit of collaboration and looking forward to 2021, contact us to discuss any of your business planning needs.