Social distancing measures have caused us to make significant lifestyle changes over the last few months. Some of the behavioural changes we are seeing emerge from this are likely to remain in situ for a long period of time. Not just because of the expected duration of lockdown measures, but also because they are likely to cause shifts in attitudes that will stay with us as we move into a post COVID-19 world.
Amidst the challenges social distancing has presented, technology has enabled us to stay connected to one another and bridge the physical separation we are experiencing. Virtual gatherings on platforms such as Zoom have quickly become routine, demonstrating how we are creating new norms for the way we engage with each other.
In this sense social distancing has enabled technology to thrive, as it is being used creatively to enable solutions to the problems we are faced with. It is likely these solutions will shape both our behaviour and our relationship with tech in the longer-term.
For tech brands, it is critical to keep pace with these changes from both businesses and individuals alike. Here are our thoughts on some of the notable changes we are seeing:
- Remote working - The most talked about change has been the shift to remote working, and notably the way it challenges traditional attitudes towards working structures. If businesses see they can operate just as effectively remotely, it raises questions around the need for offices and set working hours, which could have drastic long-term implications. Some businesses may decide to increase the number of staff who work from home, or even move to an entirely remote workforce. This presents an opportunity for B2B brands, such as identity management and cloud platforms, to convince businesses that they have secure and scalable networks that can support and enable a move to a digital workspace.
- Autonomous vehicles - The implementation of social distancing measures has meant that being able to receive goods without human contact has become a necessity rather than luxury. The logistical challenges presented by social distancing can be solved by autonomous vehicles, and we are seeing this as robot shuttles are used to carry coronavirus tests to hospitals. In this context, the desire to see autonomous vehicles on the road increases significantly, with people likely to place greater weight on the hygiene benefits of these vehicles than they would have done so previously. This could prove beneficial for tech brands in the autonomous space, as a shift in consumer attitude may reduce concern and increase demand.
- Virtual events - The cancellation of mass-gathering events has seen many brands opt to move to the virtual space for the first time, not just in tech but across a range of industries. Virtual events make it possible to widen access and allow for events to become ‘on demand’, which challenges thinking around physical attendance and causes brands to consider the value of virtual events. Event attendance can be costly, time-consuming and limits the number of people who have access. By digitalising them, suddenly brands find they can reach more people and remove the limitations of time and distance. In the longer-term this could cause a shift in how brands approach hosting events.
- Contactless payment – Cash withdrawals in the UK have dropped by more than 60% amid the pandemic, which could be indicative of an acceleration towards contactless payment. With people now on high alert to the spread of germs we could see a lasting impact on people’s desire to use cash as a form of payment. Whereas previously people may have considered contactless to be a convenience, the pandemic has elevated it to something more than this and as some shops have begun no longer accepting cash, card-only shops become a more realistic possibility. Combine this with the improved security a move to card-only payments would offer, and we can expect to see further growth in the use of contactless payments post-COVID-19.