How Covid-19 changed the way we communicate on the shop floor

Article by Martyn Jones | 10th September 2020

Covid-19 changed consumer behaviour, pinching household incomes and leisure time. A third of customers are finding themselves ‘financially-squeezed’ and are more cost-conscious.  Customers are now shopping with closer scrutiny on the environment and less time spent in-store. 75% of shoppers want to limit food waste and shop more infrequently as a result. Consumer values and priorities have become more closely attuned with keeping themselves, and the planet, safe.

Retail has adapted quickly

Retail has had to change, and quickly, given the demands of social distancing. Larger businesses hired thousands of additional staff and queued customers to limit store numbers. Most retailers are now very directive with customer movement in-store, protecting colleagues against shopper numbers. It’s normal to see plexiglass protection and a single till queue. Triaging customers and keeping on top of normal retail tasks has all put increased pressure on team communication. 

Read our full insight report, Empowering the Forgotten Frontline

Colleagues must communicate remotely

First and foremost is the need to protect staff whilst ensuring smooth in-store operations. Our research showed that 47% of colleagues felt the ability to communicate more effectively with their team would make them more productive. Colleagues are having to adapt rapidly in-store, working in smaller teams with more flexible roles. Teams that can communicate instantly are more likely to adopt practises faster, and safer.

COVID-19 caused an uplift in altercations

Our own data has revealed that retail colleagues experienced higher security issues during COVID-19. Nearly half, (48%) experienced verbal abuse. Over a third experienced store theft and almost half experienced physical altercations between customers. All this puts enormous strain on colleagues during the working day, making communication even more important as a feature of their work. 50% of colleagues said that maintaining communication with their team was the biggest single challenge at work.

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Our study shows staff morale more consistent in connected teams

However, there are some signs that colleagues feel positive about their work. 86% said they felt valued by society since COVID-19 and two-thirds felt empowered in their role. The interesting link between all the changes brought about by COVID-19 in retail, is that the more connected colleagues feel, the more they feel valued, empowered and productive at work.

We believe that communication can transform your business. Empower your colleagues with our instant voice solution. Talk to us today.

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