It is clear that optimism runs deep in our city despite the pandemic. No matter how dim the moment, we find companies rising to the challenge to give our community lift and light as we learn to navigate this new era.
The desire to extend and defend markets is at the forefront of our business leaders’ thinking. Consider manufacturing. Suppliers adjusted in 2020 to increased demand for once dormant categories: from pajamas and self-tanner to home gym equipment and yeast; from high speed internet connections and home office equipment to personal protective equipment. At HSBC, we see the economic impact of the pandemic reflected across the globe in these shifts.
The difficulties of 2020 and the pandemic have pushed businesses to learn quickly. In line with national trends, Nashville’s consumers shifted spending to groceries and away from dining out; increased online shopping at the expense of local shops; and traded in-person venues for streaming technologies. Businesses that have been able to capitalize on these changes are poised for strong performance.
HSBC’s Navigator Report provides insight on how and why. We polled more than 2,600 companies across 14 countries and territories with the aim to measure the pulse of businesses as they adjust to the challenges of COVID-19. The current worldwide pandemic has put greater physical distance between businesses and their employees, customers, and supply chain partners. Yet, a significant majority of US businesses reported becoming closer to each of these stakeholder groups. More than four out of five (84%) US companies felt closer to their employees, nearly the same felt closer to their customers (80%), and more than three quarters (77%) reported closer relationships with their strategic and supply chain partners. These insights showcase their ability to survive and thrive through the pandemic.
Resilience is an everyday virtue in Nashville.
"The tornado in March, the derecho in May, and the pandemic throughout; our strength has been tested time and time again. Becoming closer to employees and more collaborative in business is just one more reflection of how our teams and leaders are aiming at the ‘next normal’."
COVID-19 also created an environment where collaboration is becoming increasingly evident and important to businesses’ survival.
I am awed by the endless capacity of people to innovate and adapt in the face of the pandemic. The firms that are pulling together - with employees, customers, and suppliers - are also pulling ahead.
When businesses were asked about their longer term resiliency plans, key findings show:
- The workforce is key: Businesses see employee morale as the biggest barrier (41%) to building resilience over the next six months. Focusing on the workforce tied with investing in technology as a top priority for businesses over the next five years as they expect substantial changes in the ways of working.
- Investing in technology will be critical: More than half (53%) of the respondents say investing in technology is the biggest step they plan to take in the next five years. In addition, two-thirds (66%) of US businesses foresee virtual collaboration and conferencing tools becoming absorbed into standard ways of working.
- Sustainability to power the recovery: More than nine out of 10 (93%) businesses agreed that the need to reassess their operations will enable them to rebuild their business on a foundation that is both solid and sustainable.
Nashville’s economy is uncommonly well balanced enabling the agility necessary to tackle this next normal. Indeed, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce counts more than 50 new businesses that have deepened their investment in our community in 2020 alone. The long term benefits of these investments are only just being realized which is a powerful reminder that the It City’s brightest days remain ahead of us.
Opinions expressed in this article may differ from those of the HSBC Group, its officers, or employees.