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NZ’s shift to online during COVID here to stay - report

New Zealand’s online shift during the COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay, according to new research from Venture Insights.

A new survey, commission by Chorus in October 2020, says the COVID-19 crisis has pushed New Zealanders to do more online, and the changes are sticking.  

Venture Insights was commissioned by Chorus to conduct a behavioural survey, as a follow up to an original consumer survey conducted in April 2020. The aim for both surveys was to determine how COVID-19 has changed online behaviours and which of these behaviours are continuing as New Zealand comes out of lockdown.

The survey covered broadband usage, working from home, telehealth usage and online shopping behaviour.

"Work from home remains high. Prior to COVID-19, only 28% of people had worked from home. In April, there was a significant increase in work from home (59% respondents), and 52% were working from home in October," says David Kennedy, head of research at Venture Insights. 

"This suggests that many of the respondents are continuing to work from home as the virus spread has ease," he says.

According to the survey, 64% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the experience of working from home has positively changed the way they think about managing their work/life flexibility. In addition, 51% of respondents indicated they want to work more from home in the future.

Telehealth's usage remains high and unchanged since April. The report found 24% had used telehealth services before COVID-19, and this share increased to 40% in April and has remained stable since. Thirty two percent of the respondents said they would like to use online telehealth services more in the future after the COVID-19 lockdown is over.

The report showed 71% of the respondents are using online shopping now. There has been a 6% increase in the number of regular online shoppers in October at the expense of shoppers who had used online shopping just once or twice. 

"The data shows that those who already shopped online are now doing so more frequently, but those who didn't before COVID haven't changed their ways," says Kennedy.

"People's assessment of the importance of broadband has permanently risen, and this is stimulating a move to faster plans," he says 

In April, only 5% of the respondents had or had plans to change their broadband. But by October 13% had gone ahead and upgraded their broadband. A significant segment (11%) of respondents who said they did not need to upgrade their broadband due to COVID-19 in fact did so by October.

Speed was the leading factor for the survey respondents to upgrade their broadband, and there has been a trend towards fibre during the lockdown. 

A majority of the respondents are now connected to fibre (65%) and have unlimited data plans (69%), which are up by 9% and 6% respectively as compared to the April survey.

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