It seems every big event in Britain leads to a new phrase. 2008 gave us the ‘credit crunch’, 2016 brought us Brexit and now, COVID-19 has delivered the ‘new normal’. But how does the ‘next normal’ affect your business?
When lockdown happened, not only did offices close but so did schools. For many of us, the line between work and home blurred. Added to this, there has been a lot of uncertainty around how the pandemic would evolve: would it end quickly? Would there be a vaccination?
McKinsey, the management consultants, spotted the nub of this: “there have been pronounced amounts of prolonged stress, prolonged anxiety, prolonged uncertainty.” Even with infection rates falling, uncertainty continues with the economy facing strong headwinds. As a result, firms now place more emphasis on work-life balance and mental health.
Back to the office?
The pandemic has changed how we work. COVID-19 has shone a new light on old ways. For many of us, we have shown how working from home is possible and often seamless.
This means that firms are adopting hybrid-working where their teams can split their week across their home and office. The Chartered Institute for Management recently commented, “It would be very short sighted of bosses not to see some correlation in the shift in the working world, and the move towards hybrid [working],” said CMI chief executive Ann Francke. The Times reports that the most recent UK statistics show office occupancy was only 23.3% between 7 February and 11 February – a far cry from the pre-pandemic level of close to 60%.
A new perspective
Many of us have used lockdown to think through our careers and what we want. A recent McKinsey survey found that 40% of people were at least somewhat likely to leave their job in the next six months – and remarkably, two-thirds would leave without another job to go to.
This has placed extreme pressure on firms who want to recruit new staff set against a smaller workforce. The number of Europeans leaving the UK has begun to overtake those arriving, leading to a severe shortage of staff. Job vacancies hit a record high in 2021; two in five employers face difficulties in recruiting people. Employers face a struggle to recruit staff.
A moment to seize
The start of this century seems another, more innocent time. Tony Blair remarked back then that “the kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux, soon they will settle again.” So too with COVID-19 over twenty years later. As he added, “this is a moment to seize.”
Businesses will weather these changes but they can do so with the help of advisers such as Foxley Kingham. Firms should seize these moments of change to review their businesses and improve them even further. The pandemic has also accelerated trends; companies should grab these opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.
Topics such as sustainability have also crowded their way to the top of the business agenda. Technology, such as the cloud and digitization, are further opportunities to grow market share over competitors. McKinsey also cited the importance of firms acting with speed. The pandemic showed this. Overnight, some firms reshaped their business models like lightning. Supermarkets grew their online delivery models almost overnight.
How can we help?
As the next normal evolves, Foxley Kingham can help you navigate these challenging times.
We have a range of services that can support you. We can help with business and strategy planning so you can steer your company more easily through the next few months and years.
Above all, our services are flexible, personal and geared to maximise your financial health. We are passionate about supporting our customers and the business community. We work together with the same drive and determination as if it were our own business.
As firms adapt to the new normal, we can work together to emerge from the pandemic.
Contacting Foxley Kingham – the next steps
If you are impacted by any of the opportunities we have outlined, you can contact the accountants at Foxley Kingham for a free consultation call when you can discuss your requirements and options in confidence.