The year 2020 – a disaster or an opportunity for business?


The year 2020 has certainly seen far reaching changes in the way many organisations operate, with Corona virus lockdowns forcing many businesses into bankruptcy, whilst others are still clinging on to what they have. However, is it all been doom and gloom or has it also brought benefits to society? [We won’t talk about the sudden surge of toilet paper hoarding in the early springtime. Ed]

If we look past the bleakness of Covid-19 and the misery that it has wrought on so many, we can see that here have been many new business models created. Just looking locally, we have seen an increase in the supermarket pre-ordering model, which has in turn also spawned other employment opportunities. In the UK, as in many other countries, ordering products from a local supermarket and having the good delivered to your door the same day, is something that has been around for some time. In Finland however, this kind of service was still in the very early stages last spring, with many chains still not offering the service. The current crisis changed everything, forcing supermarkets to re-think their offerings, and suddenly online ordering and home delivery became extremely popular, especially for those restricted to their homes.

In Finland, in addition to supermarkets increasing revenue through this new service, we have also seen an increase in personal shopper jobs created within the supermarkets, and of course the need for more home delivery contractors. All of these have led to increased employment in this sector. This combined with a vast increase in online purchasing in general, means that society indeed seems to accept some of the forced changes in business offerings – customer acceptance or avoidance is an area that businesses have to tread very carefully, but so far customers haven’t had much of a choice.

Others winners of this summer have been the garden centres and DIY stores, all seeing an increase in revenues mainly through people spending more time at home. Also, as people started to be forced into working from home, they started to pay more attention to their surroundings, and all of those little and not so little jobs that needed doing – a new kitchen here, a renovation there, new furniture and decorations, or even just taking in a bit of garden planning. Even the woollen thread industry saw an increase as people started taking up more knitting!

The restaurant and café culture has been a field that has taken a beating this year, having first to close completely and lay off all employees. However, we have now seen a comeback for this industry with a gradual shift to takeaways, then outdoor service (luckily it was a good summer), and now back to – almost – full service.

Of course, one industry that has been hit pretty hard, is travel and tourism. I have been particularly affected by this, with foreign work trips cancelled, and a few planned holidays going down the drain. Having said that, there were also some opportunities for domestic travel, with new locations to visit and new experiences – so it hasn’t all been bad.

The higher education sector has of course also been affected by the situation, but in many ways, we were already prepared. More and more content is already being offered online, so in that respect universities have not been too severely affected. However, the social aspects of studying and student life in general has taken a knock, let’s hope students can keep up with their social contacts online, and get back to face-to-face socialising in due course – and those all-important student parties of course! Whatever your take on the situation – disaster or opportunity – Insider is back, after what seems a very long spring-summer. We took an early summer break due to the enforced lockdown, indeed, we are not yet fully recovered, existing solely online for the time being. In any case, I am sure we will be back to “normal” sometime soon, but in the words of one of my favourite authors, “We will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.” Douglas Adams, The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy