Business and commerce has been a force for good in society, according to new research, with 56% of UK business decision makers in agreement that it has driven a positive social impact through the pandemic. The survey found that almost half (49%) of businesses have made socially impactful changes during the pandemic, despite facing uncertainty and financial pressures.
60% of businesses reported a lower than expected turnover as a result of the pandemic (47% lower on average), but in spite of this through the same period many started, or increased efforts, to give back to society.
The pandemic has seen 37% of respondents make green business improvements; 33% provide free goods, such as food and drink, equipment, products, or PPE to social causes; 31% provide their business services for free to deserving causes; 27% make monetary donations to social causes; and 26% take up corporate volunteering.
Stone Group, a leading provider of ICT solutions to UK public and private sectors, is one business that has made a positive contribution through the pandemic despite experiencing its own challenges. Simon Harbridge, CEO at Stone Group, commented, “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant challenges to the technology industry. Many technology manufacturers in the Middle East had to close their doors at the outset of the pandemic, which led to a huge stock shortages and price hikes.
“Rather than passing these higher prices onto our customers, we prioritised those in need rather than profit and put our NHS and education customers first.
“It was a no brainer for us to give back and help in any way that we could with our time and resources. We donated desktop PCs to children from Blue Coat School in Oldham, who came from disadvantaged backgrounds and would not have otherwise had the resources to continue their education at home. This allowed them to connect with their teachers and classmates through the pandemic and keep them on track with their learning through lockdown. We have also donated notebooks to Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospital.”
The Covid-19 Business Barometer also found that the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for internal change within organisations. Many businesses have made changes to the way they operate or the way they deliver products and services. The survey identified that 29% had worked more closely with clients, with 74% expecting to sustain this beyond Covid-19; 23% have worked more closely with their supply chain, with three quarters of them expecting this to continue; and a quarter have delivered products or services through completely new mediums, and 73% of those expect to continue to do so moving forward.
Introducing online training is something that has worked well for data services provider, Qbase, through the pandemic. Business insight solutions consultant, Matt Porter, said, “When the UK went into lockdown, we realised it was the perfect time to move into the virtual and on-demand world, and offer our data management tools training online. Using Showtime, a module within our Zoho CRM, we’re able to provide personalised training material and recordings of the calls. Delivering the training in three-hour blocks allows us to be flexible in fitting training around their usual operations and the recordings give slower learners the opportunity to catch up before their next session. Personally, I think training is better done remotely and this is something we’ll continue to offer online once normality resumes.”