The Pulse

Pandemic Leading To Lasting Changes

To remote working, online consumption, reduced international travel and attitudes towards environmental, social and governance

Access full Fitch Ratings report here.

Fitch Ratings-London-02 October 2020: Some coronavirus-driven changes to working life, consumption and business activity will persist after an effective medical solution becomes available, according to a survey of Fitch Ratings analysts. Remote working, online consumption, reduced international travel and attitudes towards Environmental, Social and Governance risks are among the areas where the pandemic will permanently alter individual and corporate behavior.

The global survey generated over 1,000 responses. The path of the coronavirus is uncertain, but research has shown that crowd-sourced opinions can have powerful predictive ability, and we may use the responses to inform our working assumptions and analysis.

Most respondents felt an effective medical solution would emerge in 2021 or 2022. Responses generally show broad consensus around the pandemic’s longer-term impact after a solution emerges. For example, close to three-quarters of respondents felt that the widespread home-working during the pandemic would lead to structural changes in working practices, and over 70% thought that corporate offices in developed markets would be decentralized or downsized.

However, respondents were sometimes split over the pandemic’s precise impact or how quickly this would be felt. For example, about two-thirds of respondents felt that the coronavirus would heighten interest in global warming among companies, individuals and governments. However, while some respondents felt that this would prompt sweeping changes in behavior, 53% thought changes would happen gradually.

Regarding near-term behavior, only 27% of respondents thought that there would be a sustained decline in consumption spending on traditional leisure pursuits (such as eating out, cultural events or fitness activities) before an effective medical solution to COVID-19 is available. This suggests that respondents think populations do not see the lack of a medical solution as a reason to persist with ‘lockdown lifestyles’, if this can be avoided.