The New Normal of The Logistics Workforce and International Delivery

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The pandemic has affected the way many companies do business around the globe. Since the start of the outbreak, businesses across industries had to cope with significant financial and operational challenges in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Most were forced to face considerable losses and long-term uncertainty due to lockdowns and manpower shortages. In the logistics sector,  companies faced a number of additional challenges that have pushed global supply chains into more complex models. International freight companies have had to adapt to each country’s restrictions on movement due to lockdowns, which have since become part of the new normal for everyone working in the logistics industry.

In Singapore, the government adopted a work-from-home stance at the beginning of the pandemic, which had a significant impact on the logistics industry, and its ability to ship internationally. With only 50% of the workforce allowed at the office at one time, some logistics companies struggled to cope. However, with struggles also came improvements as locally imposed COVID-19 regulations created a safer environment for employees throughout the industry. With the new normal came a new focus to improve work environments and company cultures for employees to continue working safely.

The impact of COVID-19

In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, most countries around the globe imposed bans and restrictions on travel, international trade, and logistics followed by the sealing of borders.  Restrictions on movement and lockdown measures affected the freight industry as well. In an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, even the ports were not spared, which affected international freight. Some international shipping companies had to lay off staff due to declining business.

Getting goods delivered using standard international shipping or economy international shipping from Singapore to other countries and the customers’ doorstep also posed a challenge as air and cross-border land transport almost came to a complete halt when lockdowns were imposed.

Even though deliveries were heavily delayed, consumers continued to make orders online at rapid rates. As people adapted to the new normal, logistics companies suddenly found themselves in the middle of a booming sector, e-commerce. Since many people were stuck at home due to lockdowns, they resorted to shopping for anything from groceries to sanitary products and food online. This required logistics companies to provide timely and efficient delivery services with minimal mistakes.

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Since logistics companies were no longer able to cope with the high volume of deliveries due to lesser staff, they increased their reliance on third-party logistics to conduct last-mile delivery services. Most companies also increased automation with technology to increase mobility and flexibility of their business for optimised operational management.

The advent of e-commerce changed the face of business, with deliveries now being made at the customer's doorsteps, instead of their mailbox. This shift prompted a change in logistics, requiring the help of more third-party logistics companies to complete last-mile delivery and offering cheapest international shipping rates. In the  new normal, it is no longer sustainable for a logistics company to expect one staff to fulfil an order from start to finish. Increasingly, we see the need for a team of individuals to oversee the warehouse, distribution centre and on to home delivery to maintain the efficiency of the supply chain.

Business as usual

As e-commerce grew exponentially, reliable international delivery grew in demand and international shipping rates became the primary concern for many outward-looking entrepreneurs. Third-party logistics providers also had to undertake various steps to continue business as usual during the pandemic, which was necessary to continue serving their international commerce clients. New safety measures were successfully introduced, and contactless deliveries became part of the Standard Operation Procedures of every logistics company.

As for international shipping companies, airlines have allowed them to make use of passenger aircraft to transport cargo since there were little to no passenger flights during the pandemic. Here at DHL Express, we have also chartered flights to transport products from several countries during the pandemic. In Singapore, we announced our partnership with Singapore Airlines in March 2022 to deploy 5 Boeing 777 freighters as part of DHL Express expansion of our intercontinental air network to meet customer demands.  Given the mandates, everyone had to adjust their business practices which contributed to increased efficiency and productivity eventually. As a logistics company, we have also managed to maintain our resilience through the pandemic by guaranteeing speed and quality service for all deliveries by operating at full capacity.

To thrive in an ever changing economy of the logistics industry, companies will have to maintain the agility of their work models in order to adapt to changes constantly during the pandemic. At DHL Express, not  only have we implemented health protocols to keep our valued employees safe, we have also increased our involvement in the transportation of medical and pharmaceutical products during the pandemic. To date, we have distributed more than 200 million doses of vaccines over 120 countries with our Medical Express (WMX) service and will continue to do so in the near future. Follow DHL Express on our journey towards the new normal of the logistics sector now.