It seems that the Covid 19 pandemic is forcing many employers to rethink how they conduct business, especially in the retail, foodservice and hospitality sectors. We see businesses adding order on-line and pick-up from curb-side service or delivered to your home. Drive through window services (e.g. banks, pharmacies, beverage stores) that already existed are seeing longer lines. Sonic fast food is ahead of the curve with their car-hop/serve you in your car design.
On-line purchasing/delivery to your home is not new, but I believe the pandemic is going to speed-up the migration towards the closure of brick and mortar retail/food service establishments. The big boxes have already been moving in that direction; this will get them moving faster.
What does this mean for employment? More jobs in distribution facilities, both skilled and unskilled. More delivery car/truck driver jobs. More vending machine repair techs. More on-line customer service jobs (which can be performed from home). Direct contact customer service/sales jobs will start to disappear; waiters/waitresses, store clerks, store managers store salespeople. Even auto sales jobs are being replaced by self-service options (e.g. Carvana, Autotrader, etc.).
This world-wide health crisis is a wake-up call for business, government and consumers. Change is certain to result, and probably faster than it would have occurred otherwise.
Update – Telecommuting is becoming a more accepted option by Employers in the post-pandemic workplace
An article released by the Detroit AP indicates that Ford Motor Company has notified 30,000 world-wide employees that they can continue to work from home, indefinitely. They will be expected to come into their normal office location for group meetings and project work best suited to face-to-face interaction. The article postulates that this is a clear signal that the COVID pandemic has speeded up “a cultural shift in Americans’ work lives by erasing any stigma around remote work and encouraging the adoption of technology that enables it.”
In my experience in the HR field, employers were typically unwilling to commit to a telecommuting work structure other than for jobs which required a significant amount of travel away from the existing office locations (e.g. outside sales, equipment maintenance, over-the-road truck drivers to name a few). It is still not a feasible plan for many workers outside of those in professional and technical jobs, and jobs that do not require direct customer interface. However, as the nature of work changes with advancing technologies, I believe that employers will be more likely to shift to remote work options to reduce cost and attract new talent.