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Businesses ‘must plan for new normal and multiple lockdowns’

Industry must find ways to respond to enormous behavioural changes in society, says researcher

Australia’s businesses cannot expect to “bounce back” from the economic impacts and restrictions on social interactions imposed by the Covid-19 global pandemic, a Queensland crisis management academic has said.

Lex Drennan, a research fellow with the policy innovation hub at Griffith University on the state’s Gold Coast, says businesses must develop strategies “around a new normal” rather than thinking that life will return to how it was before the crisis.

“I suspect over the next 18 months this is not the last time that we’re going into some form of lockdown,” she said in a university statement.

I don’t think it’s going to be the case that in three or four weeks’ time we just go back to normal. This is not a short-term interruption, it’s an epic interruption to life.”  

Drennan said the pandemic would bring “enormous behavioural change” to society and that the business world must be aware of this and find ways to respond. Businesses will also need to look at their long-term sustainability rather than assume that they can return to pre-pandemic business models of sales and customer engagement.

“Reach out to your loyal customers, your suppliers, your vendors…start having these conversations now around how it is going to change everything when you reopen and start rethinking how you want the business to work,” she said.

“When you put people through really intense pressure and force behaviour change on them, that lasts for an extended period of time [and] that behaviour change becomes a permanent way of thinking.”