COVID-19: 'The Next Normal' - How business owners can approach the medium term.

French Duncan | 20 April 2020


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The Next Normal.

As business owners deal with the current crisis and take practical steps to utilise the government backed schemes of assistance currently in place, there remains I believe a nagging issue at the back of their minds.

What will “normal” look like once this is all done?

At this time we constantly strive to “get back to normal”. So let’s have a think about the elements of business life which have irrevocably changed.


Significant changes to routines and work practices will be a necessity in the food and hospitality sector. As well as ensuring staff are safe, a huge effort will  be required to ensure customers feel relaxed and able to enjoy the experience once more, as restrictions are lifted in a phased manner.

In many businesses, especially those which rely on office based staff, a new alternative approach is now in play with homeworking being a necessity at present, what implications will this have going forward?

The combination of employers being more accepting of the efficiency of homeworking and the employees benefitting from less travel to work time, there will inevitably be discussions on how the working week is shaped in the future.

Even within the office environment more use of Zoom, TEAMS etc. will reduce travel between offices.

The paperless office was an inevitable consequence of the lockdown, the impact of which will be maintained in some form.

So improvements in efficiency of working practices will be one outcome from this experience.


The interaction with business clients has had to change, as noted above:

  • Video conferencing
  • Paperless processes etc.

In addition customers will perhaps place more stock on the resilience of supply rather than purely cost based decisions. More opportunities to provide local supplies, when before perhaps imported stock was preferred purely on a cost basis.

I believe that within the interaction with customers new opportunities will arise as a result of this experience and business owners should consider the impact on their business growth strategy.


The “Great Unknown” at the moment is what will be the long term impact on the economy?

The global focus on the pandemic and the cost of the response of governments across the world, must have an impact on the ability of nations to deal with the economic fallout. That uncertainty will inevitably affect decision making both at a governmental level and also at the micro-economic level within countries.

As in the past, uncertainty causes difficulties in the business operation of owner managed businesses, but it inevitably offers opportunities as well. Being fleet of foot in this environment is a bonus in many instances.

The ability of entrepreneurs to think strategically at this time could produce opportunities for growth.


I have managed to near the end of this blog without using the term “unprecedented”. Nearly but not quite!

The impact on society of many weeks of lockdown, the uncertainties over health and financial security, the unprecedented restrictions on liberties. These factors will impact on how society moves forward both locally and in a global sense. For example:

  • Will society judge that a properly funded NHS/Care Sector is more important than tax cuts?
  • What will be the impact on environmental activism, will it increase/decrease?
  • Will the government’s approach to managing an economic downturn change from their approach in the past?
  • What will be the impact on local tourism?
  • How long will it be before pubs and restaurants are fully accessible?

Although speculative, these and many more unknowns will impact on how we live our lives and how our country is governed going forward.

This will also impact on owner managed businesses and where they focus their growth aspirations.

So it seems obvious to me that there are, and will be, many changes which have to be dealt with in all aspects of our business and personal lives over the medium term. The degree of uncertainty in all these areas make it difficult at this stage to focus on a particular strategy or path to follow.

However I think it is important that business owners approach the medium term with an open mind and a few general parameters on where their business, both internally and externally, is heading.

By so doing I think they can be more adaptable whatever the “Next Normal” looks like.

For more information about preparing for the COVID-19 world, you may also like this blog about preparing to re-open.


Contact details:

At French Duncan we have a lot of experience in grant funding and loan agreements, so will be able to help you through our dedicated teams covering Corporate Advisory, Business Restructuring, Corporate Taxation & HR Services.

Whilst some of our staff are currently working from home, all of the above can be contacted on their email addresses or on 0141 221 2984.


Other COVID-19 Information:

For all our help, support and information around COVID-19 / Coronavirus visit, where you can link to articles deferring HMRC payments, tax and business rates, debt assistance & restructuring and much more.




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