Our November club session discussed how business radars and agendas have changed over an unprecedented year. For example, what was on those business agendas at the start of the year, but isn’t now? What wasn’t on those radars then, but is now?
23 November 2020
Our last Business Club of 2020 recognised a year that wasn’t ending as people had planned. It had been one where organisations and individuals had to suddenly switch focus, rethink their plans from January, and adjust to a previously unimaginable and prolonged storm of events.
While the pandemic has been all consuming and rightly demanded a lot of attention, other aspects of life and business still had to go on. So in our November session we looked more closely at how business radars and agendas had changed. For example, what was on those business agendas at the start of the year, but isn’t now? What wasn’t on those radars then, but is now? Steve Foster and Catherine Metcalfe from Shipleys led the discussion.
Good and bad takeaways from an unprecedented year
A study of business leaders by KPMG at various points in the year found that:
32% of the Business Leaders were less confident now about prospects for long-term global economic growth than they were at the start of the year.
80% said the pandemic had accelerated digital transformation – particularly in terms of their digital operations. 30% said that progress had put them years ahead of where they would have expected to be right now.
71% said they want to lock-in the climate change gains their organisation had made as a result of the pandemic. 65% said that managing climate-related risks will play a part in whether they kept their jobs or not over the next 5 years.
67% said they have had to rethink their global supply chain approach given the disruptive impact of the pandemic. They said this was driven by the desire to become more agile in response to changing customer needs. In the UK it will no doubt be also influenced by Brexit.
Changing business agendas
In the session, Club members discussed how business radars had changed and what was now on many agendas. Points raised included…
Rethinking the office space
At the start of the year many businesses were looking to expand their premises, however the successful migration to home working and an improved use of technology were now forcing many to reconsider. In some cases, businesses have parked expansion plans or are now considering scaling back their premises in favour of a more flexible space and remote working.
Building on technological gains for even greater productivity
Many businesses have been pleasantly surprised by how well they’ve implemented technological change in their operations in a short period of time and the productivity achieved. Looking forward there’s an appetite to build on the progress to make more of electronic meetings, collaborative software for teams and the like.
Reassessing business travel
Another implication of the switch to online meetings and communications has been a questioning of the time previously spent on business travel. Many businesses are reassessing the use of this time and looking to retain time savings they’ve gained from remote working in the lockdown.
RefLecting on the Economy and impact of Government interventions
Throughout 2020 the Government introduced significant financial support and legislation to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Many of the business club members questioned what the longer-term impact of this will be. For example, businesses will have to pay back Government-backed loans at some point in the future, also the measures in place to restrict evictions and insolvencies will eventually be altered. For some time yet the Economy will remain challenging, particularly for small and medium sized businesses.
Also, whilst the Government support measures have been reactionary to stem the pandemic, it’s important that businesses remain compliant with longer-standing legislation. For example, businesses looking to utilise the Government’s latest Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme should be mindful their employment contracts reflect any changes and remain compliant with current Employment Law.
Preparing for Brexit
Brexit is still very much on the Government’s agenda and, despite a deal not yet finalised, businesses need to prepare for its rollout in January. Some club members wondered if there would now be a greater move to localism in business agendas – with the shortening of supply chains to help ease operations during the Brexit transition. For more tips on how to prepare for Brexit, see this guide.
Greater awareness of mental health issues
Another point that had emerged on business radars in 2020 was supporting employees with mental health issues. Few people have been immune to the stress of this year’s events. There is therefore a growing recognition of the effect such stresses, concerns and worries are having on people – particularly given how prolonged the pandemic has been. Many businesses are looking at ways to support the mental health, wellbeing and resilience of their workforce.
Business agendas are very different to what they were at the start of 2020. They will also need to adapt further in view of what’s on the horizon in 2021. As well as Brexit, much legislation (for example the IR35/off-payroll working rules) was postponed during the pandemic but is due to come in next year instead.
There have also been positives from the lockdown which people are keen to retain, such as stemming climate change, embracing greater diversity and being more supportive of one’s local community. Businesses have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly they adapted to the change and the resilience they showed. There has also been greater collaboration and a focus on supporting those around you.
During the course of the discussion Club members also shared these links for additional insights and help.
- Charting Surrey’s Post-covid rescue, recovery and growth
- 6 charts that show what employers and employees really think about remote working
If you would like to join our future Business Club events, please contact the Shipleys’ Godalming team for more information.