The COVID-19 global pandemic is forever changing the way we live and work. Working from home has become the new norm, with millions of people worldwide now earning their livings from the comfort of their own homes. Reflect back just a few months and the changes we’ve made to our everyday lives are mind-blowing… with restaurants and clubs forced to close, we’re buying more takeaway, ordering home delivery… even cooking more regularly for ourselves. And with travel ground to a halt, we’re finally realising (or perhaps admitting) the convenience, efficiencies and cost savings that come with meetings via Zoom or WhatsApp and attending virtual conferences. With plenty of time at home, we’re also enjoying the retail therapy that comes with online shopping as opposed to hitting the major centres. Transaction reports speak volumes: according to ACI Worldwide analysis of hundreds of millions of sales from global online retailers, most retail sectors saw a 74% rise in March compared to the same period last year. In the United States, among the fastest 100 growing retail categories were weight training (+307%), computer monitors (+172%), office chairs (+104%), office desks (+89%) and electronics: (+26.6%). Among the fastest 100 declining retail categories were luggage and suitcases (-77%), briefcases (-77%), store fixtures and displays (-50%), events and party supplies (-55%), and women suits and dresses (-53%). But beware… with increased online purchasing, we are also experiencing an increase in fraudulent activity as criminals take the opportunity to target unsuspecting consumers and merchants to obtain and use their financial data and information. What does this mean for you? Going forward, the changes we are implementing now to protect our communities against COVID-19 are sure to influence our long-term behaviour in the workplace. People will think twice about the health and safety of working in close proximity of others. They may shun hot-desking and avoid crowded conferences or training programs. Having experienced working from home, more employers will be open to engaging employees or contractors to do the same, whether they live close to the office, in a different state or even overseas. And, as the economy re-settles into its new normal, while some businesses will scramble to catch up on lost time, others will need to restructure and change direction in order to succeed. Many businesses will engage the services of contractors as a highly efficient and cost-effective way to navigate these changing economic circumstances. In doing so, they will be able to employ people with the specific skills and connections they need in the short-term to take their company in new directions and upskill their existing workforce. How will you adapt your business to the new normal? At the Ayers Group, we can help your business grow and succeed in uncertain times. As one of few companies with an on-hire labour agreement approved by the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration), we sponsor, hire and on-hire skilled workers from around the world so they can contribute their skills to your business. Our professional services range from managing administrative and financial arrangements for contractors through to providing organisations like yours with tailored back-office payroll and migration solutions. Call on an expert from the Ayers Group today to find out more about how we can provide the resources you need, and free you up for growth and success.