Job creation and review of social benefits could be focus of post-pandemic reboot

Study shows remote working and use of technology will become more common once pandemic is over


Social distancing will continue to be observed even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, and employees will start demanding less crowded offices and more flexibility and remote working, a study has shown.

The study - Beyond COVID 19 - Preliminary insights about how our world might look - was carried out by consultancy firm Novargo, with the help of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

Joshua Zammit, founder of Novargo, said the study was commissioned to develop different scenarios of how the future might look and highlight strategic initiatives which can be implemented to address those scenarios, as part of the work carried out by a Chamber Think Tank concentrating on the future.

The data was collected through a survey between March and April 2020 and covers the views of people holding a range of different and influential positions in private enterprise, the public sector and academia. The nature of the data does not make the findings generalisable but provides a snapshot and a series of insights on how those replying to the questionnaire are thinking about how the World in general and Malta in particular will look once the initial COVID-19 wave passes.

Novargo asked participants to give their views on how they think things will change in the following areas: economy, work, business, government, education, health, religion, and society, social relations and lifestyle.


Respondents were asked whether they think the economic priorities will change once the coronavirus crisis is over.

While some said no change will be made to the identification of new economic priorities, a few argued that changes will probably be short-term and that in the medium to long term the economy will return to normal, with the economic pillars remaining what they are today.

Data gathered showed that respondents believe tourism will take longest to recover, with some respondents expecting at least a two-year recovery period.

The study shows that respondents believe that the focus of the economy in a post-coronavirus reality will be on job creation and the sustainability of social benefits.

Business and work

The study shows that most respondents social distancing will continue to be observed even after the pandemic is over and employees will start to demand less crowded offices and more flexibility.

Remote working, teleworking and the use of technology will become more widespread and more acceptable to employers. At the same time, work practices which are currently taken forgranted because everyone congregates in an office building will need to be revisited.

Respondents agree that employment law will need to be brought in line to cater for new work practices.

The employer-employee relationship and the concept of control will shift with both parties understanding that it is more about trust, accountability, responsibility and achieving results than it is about clocking the hours at the office.

Data gathered clearly shows that respondents expect “the way we do business will change”. The rise of technology and digital and the move to online will encourage more businesses to revise their business models and adapt them to the online world and e-commerce.

Closer collaborations between businesses and an increased possibility of mergers especially within the SME space for better economies of scale and lower or shared costs could also be a new reality, according to the study.

Businesses will rethink their supply chains and build proper contingencies in them, while redesigning the customer experience to fit the new mode of doing business.


Given the great demands this crisis has placed on Government and seeing the way its role and the people’s expectations of it have changed, respondennts were asked how they thought Government would change the way it runs the country in a post-COVID 19 world.

The study says that Government will rethink its strategic goals and seize the new opportunities presented by COVID-19.

There will also be more restrictions for non-EU workers.

Respondents believe the focus should switch to employers with a revision of benefits such as sick leave entitlements and increased optional leave.

More transparency and accountability across Government will be demanded by citizens, with a greater emphasis on more commitment to good governance.

Government will also need to provide more social services and to focus more on the environment and be less bureaucratic.

Respondents said they expected the government to enact legislation which forces companies to have funds for a rainy day always on hand.


Novargo’s study shows that once the pandemic is over, people will start to focus on fitness and healthy eating and might actually make changes to their lifestyles to become healthier.

People are expected to become more aware of the role played by good hygiene in mitigating infection risks and to be more aware of the health problems of others and act responsibly so as not to compromise other people.

Spending (personal spending) on health-related items is also expected to increase.

The data shows that certain behaviours which were adopted in other countries but not in Malta - such as removing one’s shoes before entering the house - may become more common.

Demand for health and life insurance cover is expected to increase while governments will spend more money on health at the expense of other sectors.

The study also concludes that if the shock of the pandemic was strong enough, signs of increased paranoia in relation to health and personal wellbeing could become more common, with a possible increase in obsessive compulsive behaviours.

Respondents believe the country will also need to deal with longer-term mental health issues which the stress of the current situation may be posing and which are not currently fully recognised and/or understood.


Education is one of the sectors which most respondents identified as being very important to the future of the country. Having said that, it seems to be one of the sectors which was the slowest to adapt and take action to ensure continuation of service through online and remote service delivery.

If there was anything which this pandemic highlighted was the unpreparedness of the educational system to move out of the classroom and change its method of delivery. Yet there seems to be general agreement that education cannot move entirely to an online delivery system since it is widely agreed that education serves to provide more than just the teaching of subjects. It is important for both the social and cognitive development of its users as well as their socialisation process.

The role of the school will remain firmly part of out society yet the way schooling is delivered needs to change, the study shows.

Schooling hours should be extended even if the hours spent at school do not need to increase.

Respondents said that teachers should be more available supplementing classroom contact hours with online contact hours, while highlighting the need to teach and include parents to participate in education by providing them with more tools to be able to do this.

Society, social relations and lifestyle

Most respondents made a strong argument that no change will happen and that any change will be for the short term and non-permanent, possibly until a vaccine is found. The temporal component of the current situation was seen by some as being a deciding factor on the level of permanence to the changes which we have experienced.

Having said that the main argument supporting this no-change position was wholly based on the notion that people are social creatures, they are pre-programmed to live and interact in groups and as such this basic human and natural need will eventually overcome the imposed isolation which is external to human nature.

Some said they expect people will experience fear of strangers giving rise to possible nationalism and racism.

Disposable income will be reduced and lifestyles will change, some respondents believe, with interpersonal relationships changing due to germophobia. But only a very few believe that what was custom such as hand shakes and hugs will be frowned upon and eliminated.


Respondents were asked: “Will the way we look at and practice religion change and if so, how?”

Some said they expect the practice of religion and introspection to increase. People will become more appreciative of the role religion plays in their life but they will not change the way religion is practiced.

Other respondents said that, until things return to normal, religion could gain in importance. But once things calm down, people will forget all about it again until the next crisis or disaster strikes.

Data shows that some respondents believe religion needs to adapt to the realities of society and should reflect these more closely. It needs to do this to remain relevant.

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