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David Soffer is a London-based consultant who has worked in digital consultancy and reputation management for over eight years. This is a sponsored post by DSR Digital.

With businesses across the UK and the world having been impacted in one way or another as a result of the pandemic for the last two years, human behaviour has been in the spotlight like never before. Populations everywhere have at one point or another adapted and changed their behavioural practices.

Although some of the changes made have been mandated by the state, in various countries, other changes in people’s behaviour have been self-guided and has been in response to increasing ‘behavioural science’ and shifts in society.

What is the Nudge Unit?

The UK government has enlisted the assistance of the Behavioural Insights Team, also known as the ‘Nudge Unit’ of the government. Scientists in this team have worked with the government on effective messaging and the communication of behavioural instructions such as the wearing of face coverings, social distancing and taking up vaccines and boosters.

Established by David Cameron’s government in 2010, the Nudge Unit was designed and set up to use behavioural science to help guide public policy. The Nudge Department now falls under the remit of the Cabinet Office and Dr David Halpern, its Chief Executive, is a former Director of Research at the Institute for Government.

Previously the Nudge Unit was utilised to encourage and remind people to submit tax returns and pay their taxes on time. Samuel Davies, founder of Kallyss, an online finance hub said of this: “It is really interesting to understand how the UK’s Nudge Unit has been adapted. Interestingly, in British culture, money has traditionally been seen as taboo and so it makes sense that this unit was set up to break that stigma. Ultimately, when it comes to human behaviour, the biggest challenges are those which require the addressing of stigmas and taboos.”

What changes to behaviour have people adopted?

There are numerous changes to behaviour which have been overt, such as the wearing of face coverings, an increased degree of social distancing and people’s reduced propensity to hug and embrace when meeting people. However, some of the changes in society have been a little less overt.

Sefton Jameson of Wuffes commented: “People have changed how they behave and what they do as part of their daily lives like never before and some of the practices like handwashing are sure to stay with us in the future. More people than ever though, have also turned to pets and pet ownership in the last couple of years has skyrocketed; with dogs being a particular favourite. It shouldn’t be overlooked though, that when it comes to dogs, owners will need to account for things like multivitamins for dogs, nutritional supplements and other care-related accessories.”

Is productivity suffering?

Some of the changes to the behaviour of entire populations have been welcomes by some, yet impacted people in very different ways. For example, work from home mandates across the world have had mixed results on the productivity of workers, with different employees and businesses experiencing different outcomes as a result.

Mia Naumoska of Chanty.com, which specialises in team collaboration and communication, provided specific insights and analysis on the specific issues around productivity of workers: “When the pandemic first came about, it caught us all by great surprise, causing some devastating effects on business operations everywhere and the global economy more widely.

It created a strong sense of uncertainty for millions of workers worldwide, which undoubtedly hindered their productivity.

Most companies were forced to adopt either remote or hybrid business models, even if temporarily, which initially inhibited productivity levels considering the adjustments and learning curves that needed to be dealt with.

The great news is that we are not doomed. We have already identified various ways of improving workers’ productivity back to the pre-covid days and possibly far beyond that.

The number one change businesses should look into is identifying and implementing the business communication tool that best suits their needs. All team chat apps create flawless communication with IM and Audio/Video calls, whereas only a few of the best options take it a step further with built-in project management tools that allow workers to create, assign, track, and collaborate on tasks.

Business communication tools improve team communication and collaboration, which, as a result, skyrockets team productivity no matter if you’re working remotely or in-office.

Business leaders will play a key role in improving workers’ productivity. In these challenging times, it is up to the managers to ensure that team members are motivated, engaged, and most importantly, as mentally comfortable as possible given the challenging circumstances.

We have come a long way from the beginning of the pandemic, but there is an even longer way ahead of us on the path of returning to our peak productivity.”