Greater Manchester businesses diversified to overcome pandemic challenges

  • 93% of Greater Manchester businesses diversified throughout the pandemic
  • Two fifths (41%) of businesses in Greater Manchester have increased staff numbers to meet increased demand during the pandemic
  • 85% of North West businesses plan to have a flexible working policy in the future, with more formalised video call practises

Nine out of ten (93%) businesses in Greater Manchester chose to diversify their products and services as a result of the pandemic, according to new research released from TalkTalk today*.

As the Government eases restrictions across the country, new research from Salford based connectivity provider, TalkTalk, reveals how businesses across Greater Manchester have overcome boundaries presented by the pandemic to continue trading and contributing towards Greater Manchester’s economy.

The research reveals that almost three quarters (73%) of business owners in the area believe that their business wouldn’t have survived the pandemic if they had not reviewed their business model and diversified.

To keep their business afloat and survive the pandemic, three quarters (75%) of business owners increased their business’ online presence during the past year, with almost a third (30%) saying they have done so significantly.

Businesses have had to rely on their internet connection more than ever before as a result of diversifying. From increasing social media presence (33%) to creating a new click and collect service (28%), as well as a transactional website (25%), or working virtually with clients (27%) broadband has been instrumental to Greater Manchester businesses over the past 18 months**.

As a result of diversifying, some businesses have been able to create more jobs with two fifths (41%) of Greater Manchester businesses having done so over the last 18 months.

The way businesses work with their colleagues has also changed, with over a quarter (26%) of businesses working virtually with their colleagues in a bid to continue trading.

Working virtually is only set to continue in the county as further research from TalkTalk reveals that four in five (85%) businesses in the North West plan to have a flexible working policy going forwards, as almost nine in 10 (86%) employees said they favour flexible working policies***. As such, it comes as no surprise that a quarter (25%) of businesses in Greater Manchester have introduced a hybrid working policy. A large number of North West employers are planning to formalise video calls, with 39% looking to enforce the wearing of smart work attire and another 31% banning pets from appearing on camera.

And, of those surveyed, almost all (93%) said that having a fast and reliable internet connection has been vital to surviving the pandemic.

The reliance on connectivity is only set to continue as almost all (98%) of businesses in Greater Manchester revealed they plan to deliver their products and services both on and offline to some extent in the future.

Jonathan Kini, Managing Director of TalkTalk Direct Business and Consumer, said: “The last year has undoubtedly been a challenge for businesses across Greater Manchester, with many having to digitally diversify in order to stay ahead of the curve. This has placed an even greater focus on the need for ultrafast, ultra-reliable connectivity that’s affordable. With this in mind we’ve been ramping up our full fibre expansion programme so that hundreds of thousands of businesses and homes across Greater Manchester can benefit from the UK's latest fibre technology.”

Aiming to support local businesses across Greater Manchester, TalkTalk has recently announced it is rolling out its latest fibre broadband to homes and businesses in the area. It’s 100% full fibre meaning it uses the UK’s latest fibre technology to deliver an ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband connection – enabling businesses to unlock new ways of working and power up their productivity.

Full fibre broadband takes business connectivity to the next level, helping to keep agile workforces connected with crystal clear connections for high-quality video calling, whilst providing lightning-fast download and upload speeds that power up productivity. The steadfast connection can be trusted to help keep businesses running virtually without question.

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*Research conducted among 200 Greater Manchester businesses by OnePoll on behalf of TalkTalk

**Ten ways Greater Manchester businesses have diversified since the start of the pandemic:

1.            Increased the social media presence (33%)

2.            Offered new delivery or click and collect service for customers (28%)

3.            Liaising with clients is now virtual (27%)

4.            Working with colleagues is now virtual (26%)

5.            Introduced a hybrid working policy between home and the office/place of work (25%)

6.            Worked with other businesses to raise brand awareness (25%)

7.            Created a transactional website (25%)

8.            Employees now work fully from home (24%)

9.            Offered new services (24%)

10.         Started to trade online (24%)

*** Poll of 500 business leaders undertaken by Mortar Research in May 2021