Consumer mobility shifts as the global pandemic forces change

The acceleration of consumer mobility preferences have rapidly shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Strategy& report. The findings from Strategy&’s 9th annual Digital Auto Report focus on how Connected, Automated, Smart Mobility and Electric (CASE) strategies have had to be re-evaluated due to the global pandemic.

As a result of shifting mobility modes, the survey findings reveal most consumers are hesitant to use shared transportation. Consumers prefer to use their own vehicle over shared mobility and public transportation as a result of COVID-19. Shared mobility decreased the most in Germany with 77% of respondents intending to use less car sharing while the same holds true in both the US (56%) and in China (51%). In both China and the United States, consumers prefer the use of their own vehicle, while in Germany, the increase of commuting in cars is still equal to commuting on both bike and foot. Overall, seamless mobility solutions are still key for consumers.

Additionally, the total number of vehicles is expected to decrease in Europe (-1.2%) and increase in both the United States (+1.1%) and China (+3.9%) until 2035. This is primarily due to mobility growth (highest in China), consumer preferences for shared mobility (lowest in United States) and the average life of a vehicle until it is deposed (highest in Europe).

Though mobility preferences are changing, shared mobility providers can take steps to win back consumers, such as regular cleaning and disinfection. Consumers shared that these things are more important than lower prices in light of the pandemic.

Safety and navigation rank the highest for consumers, followed closely by vehicle management and vehicle features as a service. While connected services are important, the survey findings reveal that only consumers primarily in China (58%) are willing to pay for these services.

Gasoline continues to be the most preferred powertrain in both Germany and the United States. In China, 68% of consumers under the age of 40 prefer electric powertrains, while only 46% in Germany and 37% in the United States prefer electric powertrains.

Anil Khurana, PwC Global Leader, Industrial Manufacturing & Automotive comments, “Consumers’ mobility preferences are rapidly changing based on comfortability and technology. It’s paramount that the mobility industry quickly adapts to the new needs and expectations of consumers. CASE technologies and COVID-19 are game changers that will have lasting effects for years to come.”

Benefits upon Discharge On Grounds of Redundancy in Nigeria

Like in other Countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the survival of many businesses across all the sectors in Nigeria. In other to grapple with the rough tides and remain in business, owners of businesses have deliberately cut down the cost of running their business by reducing overhead costs, declaring some post redundant and reducing their workers by discharging them on grounds of redundancy.

This has created problems for both workers and employers. Whilst workers will lose their means of livelihood, it opens up employers to industrial actions by the discharged workers. It is therefore in the best interest of the employers and workers for employers to discharge workers on grounds of redundancy in line with the provisions of the labour law.

Section 20 of the Labour Act provides that in the event of redundancy, the employer shall inform the trade union or workers’ representative concerned of the reasons and extent of the anticipated redundancy. The employer shall adopt the principle of “last in, first out” in the discharge of the workers affected, subject to all factors of relative merit, including skill, ability and reliability. This means workers who have been in employment longer will be considered for discharge before the latest workers to come into the employment. The employer shall use his best endeavours to negotiate redundancy payments to the discharged workers who are not covered under any regulation.

However, it is settled law that where the employment of workers is wrongfully terminated i.e. terminated against the provisions of the labour law or their contract of employment, the remedy available to the workers is for their benefits which would have accrued to them had their employment been legally terminated, to be paid to them. Apart from employment with statutory flavour (i.e. workers in civil service or other employments protected by statutes), it has been settled by Nigerian courts that the law or Court cannot foist a willing employee on an unwilling employer and vice versa.

Hence, an employer has a duty to furnish the workers with a notice stating the reasons for their discharge on the grounds of redundancy and comply with the “last in, first out” principle in the labour law in discharging the workers. Nevertheless, the employer has the right to consider other factors like the relative merit, skill, ability and reliability of the workers in reaching a decision on which of the workers to be discharged on grounds of redundancy. The employer has a duty to rely on international best practices to reach a redundancy payment to the discharged workers who are not covered by any existing regulation.

Regrettably, where a worker was wrongfully discharged on ground of redundancy, the worker is only entitled to his redundancy benefits as stated in the relevant Employment Contract, Collective Agreement or regulation. The worker does not have a right to reinstatement, loss earnings, emotional or psychological pain. This is because the Court cannot force or foist a willing worker on an unwilling employer.

Post-Covid changes are permanent and there are more to come

The need for business leaders and policy makers to fundamentally rethink the way they plan, invest and operate in the future is underlined in a new survey of 699 global CEOs released by PwC.

The survey shows the majority of CEOs believe that COVID-19 pandemic driven shifts towards remote collaboration (78%), automation (76%) and fewer people working from offices (61%), are here to stay. Overall, 61% say their business model will be more digital in the future – a change accelerated by the pandemic.

Responses show digital infrastructure, flexible working and employee well-being will top their boardroom agendas as they reconfigure business operations to secure growth in the next 12 months and beyond. Fifty-eight percent of CEOs say ensuring supply chain safety will remain a focus, driving technology investments to enable tracking of products from production to delivery, and to ensure their suppliers and partners are resilient during crises.

“Business leaders need to simultaneously keep their company running today and fundamentally rethink their strategy for tomorrow, so they come out of the pandemic ready to reconfigure their business to thrive in a very different world. And they need to do that, thinking not just about the COVID-19 acceleration of change in society and the rising expectations of their broader stakeholders, but also the other issues that are going to fundamentally reshape the future of business – from climate change to populism,” says Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited.

In a challenge to decades of increased globalisation, almost two in five (39%) of CEOs believe there will be a permanent shift towards onshoring and insourcing, and a similar share expect an enduring increase in nationalism.

Kristin Rivera, Global Leader, Forensics & Crisis, PwC US, comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded CEOs of the importance of building resilience into their operating model. Firms that were able to quickly adopt digital working practices or switch their supply chains were better able to withstand the shock. CEOs now need to simultaneously contend with the unfolding pandemic and to rethink how they operate in the future. Not every innovation developed in a crisis is right for the long term, but there is much to learn.”

CEOs are naturally cautious on their own revenue growth prospects in the year ahead (45% somewhat confident, 15% very confident). 65% are predicting a decline in global growth. Concern about the global economy is highest in Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Business leaders also believe the pandemic increased the importance of responding to a wider range of stakeholder issues, particularly employees. Employee support measures included health and safety (92%), well-being (61%) and financial support (24%). Forty-two percent made contributions to community organisations and almost a third (32%) of business leaders reduced their own pay. Those CEOs who maximised retention (36%) and protected employee health and safety (92%) believe it will have a positive impact on their organisation’s long-term reputation.

Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation, PwC US, comments: “The accelerated shift to flexible working has been valuable for many companies. Whatever new models emerge, it’s clear that employee-oriented policies that invest in safety, protection and well-being could become the new differentiator for recruitment, retention and company reputation.”

The changes driven by COVID-19 add significantly to an already full agenda for CEOs. Climate change remains an influential trend for consumers and businesses alike. When asked if the shift to climate change mitigation would endure, the majority of business leaders (47%) said it would. Business leaders believe short term increases in disposables (including sanitisers, masks) and decreases in the use of the sharing economy would only be temporary.

Limited retreat from cities

While the majority of CEOs (61%) believe that there will be lower workplace density than before, they remain divided about what role cities will play in the future: 34% believe the shift towards de-urbanisation will continue; 38% believing it is temporary.

Divided about the role of government

Business leaders are not expecting extended government support, with the majority (57%) believing state intervention to be a temporary feature, despite the potential for governments to use the support to influence COVID-19 recovery and policies impacting business. Less than one in three (30%) believe government support will be sustained, despite a gloomy outlook for global and organisational growth prospects in the next 12 months. One in five respondents say they declined government backed support for their business during the pandemic.

Bob Moritz comments: “Some CEOs may feel like they’ve passed a critical test. What’s critical now is that they use the important knowledge they’ve gained about their organisations effectively for business and society. The most enduring shift in this pandemic is the reality that it can no longer be a choice between the long and the short term. We need to address both.”

Baker McKenzie partners with Terre des hommes

Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie has partnered with international children’s rights organisation Terre des hommes, to create a resource which aims to accelerate the release of children from detention around the world, during COVID-19. The web page, which includes a policy and practice brief, as well as operational guidelines, aims to provide urgent guidance to those working in youth justice.

The resources provided summarise international legal instruments and regional mechanisms that are relevant to evaluating the circumstances of children in these settings, and present a set of policy recommendations, illustrated by practical examples of rapid response actions to realise children’s fundamental rights.

This advocacy project is part of a wider new initiative launched by Terre des hommes, justicewithchildren.org, which aims to:

  • Make children’s rights effective worldwide;
  • Promote access to justice and participation of children in formal, and informal justice systems;
  • Improve the connection between justice for children and child protection systems;
  • Assess the use of deprivation of liberty and promoting non-custodial measures worldwide;
  • Exchange practice-oriented strategies to reduce and prevent juvenile crime and proposing effective responses to recidivism.

The advocacy and voices pages, joint products of Terre des hommes and Baker McKenzie, bring recommendations for policy makers through a policy and practice brief, and give technical advices for professionals thanks to operational guidelines for security forces, legal professionals and the social workforce.

Speaking after the website launch, Angela Vigil, North America Director of Pro Bono at Baker McKenzie, said, “We are so proud to partner with Terre des hommes on such a worthy project. We need to protect children from COVID, and accelerating the release of those currently in detention is a vital step in doing so.”

Cedric Foussard, Advocacy and Global Learning at Terre des hommes and Global Initiative on Justice with Children coordinator, points out the potential of this partnership: “It combines the expertise and experience from both organisations to achieve a common goal: to protect/defend the rights of children in contact with the law and to encourage their participation.”

Duane Morris launch Meals for Healthcare Heroes program

Duane Morris’ Meals for Healthcare Heroes program provided meals for more than 20,000 medical professionals in 16 cities. Duane Morris’ COVID-19 Strategy Team established the initiative, funded by donations from Duane Morris attorneys and staff, to honour healthcare workers and support local restaurants.

The medical facilities and restaurants included:

  • Atlanta: Piedmont Hospital, Kale Me Crazy
  • Austin: St. David’s Medical Center, Rudy’s
  • Baltimore: University of Maryland Medical Center, Miss Shirley’s
  • Boca Raton: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Shake Shack
  • Boston: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Saltie Girl
  • Chicago: Saint Anthony Hospital, Wishbone Chicago
  • Houston: Ben Taub Hospital, Los Tios
  • Los Angeles: Memorial Hospital of Gardena, Panda Express
  • Miami: Doctors Hospital – Baptist Health South Florida, Chick-fil-A
  • Newark: Saint Michael’s Medical Center, SuzyQue’s BBQ & Bar
  • New York: Mount Sinai West, Shake Shack
  • Philadelphia: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Murray’s Deli
  • Pittsburgh: UPMC Shadyside, Market Street Grocery
  • San Diego: Stepping Stone of San Diego, Sisters Pizza
  • San Francisco: Laguna Honda Hospital, West of Pecos
  • Wilmington: ChristianaCare, Olympic Subs and Steaks

About the Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team

The Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team advises clients on all aspects of the legal issues and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic including contractual, employment, insurance and healthcare issues. Duane Morris attorneys are fielding inquiries and providing advice in a wide range of areas, including human resources, travel and transportation, immigration and border entry, hospital and healthcare operations, medical and pharmaceutical supply, FDA, food handling and preparation, OSHA, ADA compliance, data privacy, HIPAA, environmental and EPA, international transactions, shipping, supply chain and logistics, financial reporting, insurance liability, real estate issues, including landlord and tenant matters, and all types of contracts and quasi-contracts. Duane Morris has established a blog dedicated to COVID-19 issues and is distributing Alerts and sharing information via webinars and media interviews.

Evaluating and learning from the pandemic response

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the strengths and exposing the weaknesses of governments, defence, security forces and the private sector in their crisis preparedness and response. In order for future responses to be more robust and resilient, governments will need to understand how these actors collaborate and map leadership priorities.

PwC’s new report, “Evaluating and learning from the pandemic response,” identifies the connections and chains of command that government institutions and private entities need to implement to work effectively against the complex threats of the 21st century. It offers a structured approach to mapping these links between institutions to determine any weaknesses. Contributors to the report include Malcolm Brown, former Deputy Minister of Public Safety in Canada; Sir Craig Mackey, former Deputy Commission of the Metropolitan Police Service in London; and Peter Van Uhm, retired general and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands.

Using PwC’s Security Ecosystem Assessment Map (SEAM) framework, developed by experts in the defence and security fields, leaders can examine the ways in which their organisations must adapt to changing situations and connect with other entities to improve future responses to crises.

George Alders, of PwC’s Global Government Security Sector, says: “The world of police work and the crimes they must tackle is changing and evolving as technology drives new types of crimes and societal behaviours. Amid this transformation, during the COVID-19 pandemic, police are being asked to do even more – enforcing social distancing, restrictions on movement between countries, even the wearing of face masks. In order to meet the challenges of a pandemic and whatever the next new threats may require, police and security services will need to develop more collaborative ways of working to keep citizens safe.”

Terry Weber, of PwC’s Global Government Defence Sector, says: “The response to the COVID-19 pandemic was uncharted territory in many respects and was the ultimate test of trusted institutions to be agile and flexible in the face of immense pressure. Applying a structured approach to evaluating where these institutions succeeded and where they fell short will help all players in the ecosystem continue to respond appropriately to the ongoing crisis and prepare for the next threat, whatever it may be.”

Malcolm Brown, Senior Strategic Advisor, PwC Canada, says: “This pandemic is far from over. Governments will be challenged to meet the needs of citizens as economies re-open, employees return to work, international travel resumes, and health and social care systems reassess their capacities in the face of fluctuating COVID-19 infection rates. The mapping process we’ve developed for identifying what is working well and what is not can help leaders make the right decisions and investments to keep their citizens safe now and be better prepared for the next phase of the pandemic or the next crisis that awaits us.”