New Economy Observer (UK): as covid-19 changes our views on the vital profession

At the beginning of the outbreak of coronavirus, when the streets began to empty in the background mode, the isolation, the roads could still see people continuing the work. It is couriers who on bicycles and vans deliver a variety of products for citizens — from household goods to ice cream.

Now these members of the service delivery marked by a new monument installed in the town — perhaps the first of its kind in the world. This indicates a change of perception of the vital professions in terms postaveni economy.

New employees at the forefront

Pandemic coronavirus brought in the first ranks of the workers, who were often in the shade. And now their role is rightly emphasized in a number of urban objects and monuments around the world. It is obvious that the focus is on the medical staff, whose dedication and difficult work conditions were visible to many in the course of the pandemic. In the capital of Latvia opened a 6-meter statue in honour of the medical workers fighting on the frontline against the pandemic covid-19, and in London it is planned opening of a monument dedicated to the staff of the National health service who died in the fight against covid-19.

Moscow monument draws attention to another vital category of staff: employees of delivery services, which provided food and daily goods of the townspeople, switched to online purchases in the framework of self-isolation. The art object was created by the efforts of five key Russian retailers: the largest platform of online trading Ozon, (online supermarket, the largest grocery retailer X5 Retail Group Russia), a network of supermarkets “Azbuka Vkusa”, network of pizzeria “Dodo Pizza” and delivery service Delivery Club. The monument is dedicated to the more than 60 thousands of couriers, whose work allowed the Russians to stay home in a pandemic. Under a separate initiative, the tech giant Yandex, whose delivery service to taxi successfully worked in the conditions of isolation, have launched in app for food delivery is a new feature that allows users to thank their couriers in social networks.

This recognition of employees services delivery emphasizes the growing importance of the professions that help to connect people and products in an increasingly digital world. As the pandemic has caused massive disruptions in global supply chains and offline retail, consumers around the world have moved online to meet their needs in conditions of quarantine. But someone still needs to deliver the orders, and so workers delivery services have become indispensable in times of crisis. And the importance of their work was particularly noticeable in Russia, where e-Commerce is just beginning to develop nationally, a pandemic has led to a boom of shopping online, which looks set to continue in the future.

E-Commerce in the era of coronavirus

Russian e-Commerce market was growing very explosive before the arrival of the pandemic. While online sales accounted for only 4.5% of total retail sales in 2019, according to estimates, e-Commerce grew ten times faster than the economy as a whole. The surge of online shopping has become a watershed in Russia, a country spanning 11 time zones, where the inhabitants of remote areas typically have limited access to a wide selection of goods. The recent investment by Russian retailers in expanding their online platforms and logistics infrastructure allow them to cope with significant demand growth in online sales with the advent of the coronavirus.

With the beginning of the isolation of the e-Commerce giant Ozon, one of the five creators of the monument to the couriers have doubled the total volume of turnover of goods in the first quarter of 2020 and tripled in April, when the Russians increasingly turned to online shopping. Online supermarket another sponsor of the monument, has tripled the volume of orders in April 2020, and in may increased more than four times compared to the same periods last year. The convenience and security of online shopping during the isolation contributed to the emergence of a new generation of Russian consumers who are likely to benefit from e-Commerce for a long time after the lifting of restrictions covid.

Russian retailers quickly adapted to cope with the increase in online demand during a pandemic. The main priority was the expansion of service delivery. X5 Retail Group, the parent company, rapidly developed service Express shipping and courier delivery start directly from local residents. Meanwhile, Ozon has partnered with companies from the most affected sectors, hiring over 500 employees in its delivery centers, logistics and maintenance. Online retailer also intends to create more than 1,500 additional jobs before the end of the year to better meet the growing needs of customers. Those involved with the collection and delivery of orders, have become one of the new heroes in the country’s fight with the coronavirus.

The important role of services delivery during crisis puts at the forefront of their safety and health. The company promptly took action to protect employees and ensure social distancing during delivery. For example, Ozon has strengthened inspection before leaving the couriers route and regularly disinfect their transport. Couriers were also stocked with antiseptics, gloves and masks to interact with clients and used the system of contactless payments to limit the spread of infection.

Security measures adopted to protect the couriers, emphasize the recognition of these people as good workers in the new digital economy. It also highlights the increasing attention to the health and welfare of our employees and clients from the corporate world in Russia and abroad after the pandemic.

Unsung heroes

Deprived of much of Western society’s traditional way of life, the pandemic coronavirus led to a fundamental rethinking of the professions, which remain essential, even as many services in online format. Moscow monument to the couriers suggests that professions that are not usually considered prestigious in the modern economy, can play a vital role in difficult times.

But there is still much work to be done to determine the full list of essential employees, including sellers of grocery stores, food producers and all those who risked their health by continuing to perform work that could not be transferred to the Internet. Also have to see whether or not a characters isolation raise. The answer to this question can be a real litmus test for changing the hierarchy of professions.

In the global transition to a digital economy, the pandemic highlighted the importance of often overlooked workers whose physical labor continues to be an indispensable link between consumers and products. If the world will learn this lesson, the importance of these workers will increase as the world recovers from the pandemic covid-19.