The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted many economies. Not surprisingly, the sharing economy, an economic system that involves individuals renting out or sharing their personal property including homes and cars, has been hardest hit. Companies like Airbnb, Grab and a variety of coworking spaces have been making adjustments and creating new strategies to ensure that their customers feel safe.
Although public sentiment seems unsure, data shows that many businesses are back on track and people are regaining the confidence to use an app to call a car and stay in a stranger’s home for a long weekend getaway.
In a report released by Airbnb, gross booking value grew in year-over-year terms for the first time since February. Airbnb also found that guests are looking to stay closer to home, which indicates that they’re not longing for a staycation in a major city any time soon and that travellers are perhaps not quite ready to board a plane. There was noted increase in reservations for accommodations which are more secluded as well as reservations for entire homes instead of rooms. Interestingly, 29% of bookings were made within a week of the arrival date, and in larger groups – suggesting families that have been stuck at home together are making last-minute decisions to find a change in scenery.
Closer to home, the COVID-19 pandemic also changed the way ride-hailing company Grab is doing business. In May, co-founder Tan Hooi Ling was quoted as saying that the company has seen an uptick in food and parcel deliveries, but its core ride-hailing business has dropped. But Grab quickly adapted by moving transport-driver partners to assist the fleet of delivery-partners. They also introduced a Grab Digital Small-Biz programme for merchant-partners to navigate the new normal. Small businesses and micro entrepreneurs who moved online saw their revenue increase by 25% through the Grab platform during this period.
On the coworking front, Paramount’s Co-labs Coworking has also risen to the challenge by addressing safety concerns. The team has been focused on reinventing their offerings via business unusual plans like the Enterprise Business Continuity Plan (BCP) package, offering a remote workspace solution for enterprises that seek alternate workspaces to accommodate split-team operations. Some of the initiatives taken were to place customised modular partitions at Flexi and Fixed Desk areas to add protective barriers between members.
Believing that agility and speed to market are crucial to ride this wave, Paramount Coworking has also introduced Scalable Malaysia, an enterprise product which provides an end-to-end workspace solutions for corporates, from space sourcing to designing and building to even managing the space.
All this goes to show that if there is any business that can survive a pandemic, it is one that remains nimble and agile, and ready to adjust. The sharing economy has transformed the world, and it may be one of our best bets to restore the normalcy we are all hoping for.