The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a spike in UK job searches, home working is here to stay, small businesses need more support, and more – make up this week’s news roundup.
#1. Job searches spike during COVID-19 pandemic
Searches for jobs that can be done from home and that start immediately have increased by more than 100%, according to CV Library. Since many companies have furloughed or temporarily laid off staff, searches for home working jobs have increased by 140% and searches for jobs with an immediate start have spiked by 101%. In sectors where demand has peaked, companies including supermarkets, delivery companies and social care providers, are reaching out to those who are looking for temporary and immediate work.
#2. Small businesses are as concerned about coronavirus as they were about Brexit
The small business confidence index reports that 70% of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses do not expect the country’s economy to grow during the rest of 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19. The pessimism about growth means 57% of small firms are unlikely to invest in growing their business in the next quarter. Earlier this month The Economist reported that small and medium sized businesses are particularly exposed to the repercussions of COVID-19. It isn’t all bad news, however. The Guardian highlighted a number of small businesses that have pivoted to thrive during the pandemic. They include a COVID-19 tracking app, conference call tech providers, and even a company that provides soap to clean your electronic devices.
#3. Leaders must ‘see the pandemic as a defining moment’
A new report from the World Economic Forum, Stakeholder Capitalism in a Time of Crisis, offers advice for business leaders on how to balance short-term pressures created by the pandemic with medium to long-term needs. The report, written in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson, advises leaders to remain true to the purpose, values, principles and culture of their organisation even in a time of crisis. Transparency, empathy and trust are essential qualities right now. Business leaders have a key role in calming, supporting and energising employees in the ‘new normal’ working environment advises the report.
#4. Companies turn to automation to cope with demand
Many companies are still hiring, and some are struggling to find enough workers to cope with increased demand. In some cases, this is accelerating digital transformation. Amazon has seen a huge increase in sales inquiries for its cloud-based call centre service, Connect, which uses artificial intelligence to automate tasks typically handled by humans. Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced in the UK– up from 56,000 a day two months earlier and online grocer Ocado saw its servers so overloaded with online orders that it suspected hackers. It’s likely that the pandemic is accelerating a shift to automation that might otherwise have taken years.
#5. Survey sheds light on numbers working from home
Public opinion company YouGov’s latest research looks at the number of UK employees working from home. With workplaces having closed their doors around the country, the survey finds that the majority of workers are now working from home more often than before. 42% say they are working from home all the time, and another 12% now work from home some of the time. An article in The Guardian suggests that COVID-19 could cause a permanent shift towards home working as employees are “already starting to question why they had to go in to the office in the first place”.