COVID-19 has affected all industries across the country without bias or discrimination, and trucking is no exception. Fleets of all sizes have had to pivot and adjust how they conduct business as a result while keeping pace with emergency relief efforts. While some of these changes may only remain in effect for the duration of the pandemic, industry experts predict that many others will remain in effect for years to come.
The following are some of the adjustments fleets have made that many anticipate will endure as standard business practices:
- Remote office workers. While truck drivers don’t have the option to telecommute, many fleets have shifted their office staff to a 100% remote workforce. They did so in an effort to keep as many employees as possible healthy during the pandemic, but they noticed several benefits in the process. Many employees showed improved productivity while working from home and having fewer people commuting to work means fleets could rent out smaller, less expensive office buildings in the future.
- Amplified safety practices for truck drivers. Fleets are acutely aware that many of their drivers have pre-existing conditions that put them at greater risk for severe complications if they contract COVID-19. As a result, fleets have started issuing personal protective equipment (PPE) to drivers such as facemasks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Many fleets have indicated it’s a practice they will continue until a vaccine becomes available or infection rates decrease dramatically.
- Increased demand for nearshore and onshore manufacturing. Following the initial outbreak of the pandemic, consumers and businesses alike began scrutinizing offshore supply chains and looking for alternatives. When China shut down, supply chains around the world ground to a halt. The call for nearshore and onshore manufacturing will alter what and how fleets transport products and freight.
- Sustained reliance on e-commerce over traditional brick and mortar stores. Many fleets experienced an initial spike in deliveries in the early weeks of the pandemic due to panic shopping. Shortages for high demand items were typical, but this surge didn’t last as people opted to stay home. However, while people began to eschew brick and mortar stores, they started making their necessary purchases online. Many experts predict the e-commerce trend will continue (albeit to a lesser degree) after the pandemic as well as people discover the benefits and convenience of ordering certain products and goods online.
- High volume of last-mile deliveries. Because of the dramatic uptick in online shopping, last-mile deliveries are at an all-time high as well. Although experts predict the demand won’t stay as inflated as it is now, they are anticipating it will remain much greater than it was prior to the pandemic. This will likely have an effect on supply chains as well as the types of trucks fleets invest in going forward.
COVID-19 has had several long-lasting effects on the trucking industry. With so much uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus, fleets need to remain flexible and ready to adapt to any future changes. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers know the difficulties trucking companies are contending with during these challenging times. Contact us to learn how we can help your fleet reduce risk and improve safety.