Many companies offer the option to work from any location in the world, so long as you have a reliable internet connection. As such, it is important to choose wisely when it comes to picking the right broadband for your remote working needs.
Business broadband is a type of connection that is designed to support business needs - for example, in an office or workspace that requires large-scale internet access.
Generally speaking, business broadband packages tend to be more complete than residential broadband. This means they usually incur a faster speed, greater capacity, and more reliable connection. Subsequently, they tend to be more expensive per month.
For business spaces with more than ten employees, a dedicated business broadband connection is essential. There are multiple key features of business broadband that your employees can benefit from.
Many broadband providers prioritise business broadband traffic over that of residential broadband customers.
As a result, business broadband customers tend to experience far better speed and quality of connection that is not disrupted by other customers’ usage. For example, in a residential broadband package, your usage could be disrupted by neighbours’ heavy data usage such as streaming or downloads.
One of the best things that a dedicated business broadband service includes is a form of IT support services, that, should you have a fault in the network, your provider can get your business broadband up and running again the next working day. This means that your work will experience only the minimum disruption necessary.
With this guarantee, many providers will equip you with a backup broadband hub which you can use in case you experience problems with your fixed line broadband.
When it comes to residential broadband, service guarantees are not as common. The residential broadband packages that include them do not offer the same fast time frame as the business broadband packages.
In the case that a business broadband provider is not able to solve your problem in the promised time frame, you will usually be entitled to compensation.
No one wants to experience a disrupted connection and the potential loss of revenue or reputation damage that goes along with this, whether you are a digital marketing company, a company that instals commercial solar panels, an estate agency or anything else. If your connection does go down, you will want to get back online as soon as possible.
With business broadband deals, providers usually include 24/7 customer service support. This means that regardless of when you are having connection troubles, you can get immediate customer support as soon as possible.
On the other hand, home broadband customer support services tend to only be during select hours of the day.
Getting hacked is something that no one wants to experience. If your home computer system is hacked, it can be upsetting and inconvenient. However, if your business broadband network is hacked, it can have even worse implications - both for your company and for your clients’ data.
Luckily, with business broadband services, there is a far greater level of security. The majority of these services are equipped with higher grade security software. When weighing up costs, remember to factor this in and how crucial cybersecurity is for businesses.
As you probably know, hiring internally is very expensive, and can often go beyond the cost of just a salary. Things like digital marketing, payroll and accounting can be outsourced pretty easily. This allows you to benefit from expert help without having to pay the extra costs of an employee and training for them.
Instead of forking out for expensive hard drives, use cloud storage to keep everything in one place. This will protect your documents in the event of theft or damage and will also work out less expensive in the long run. Not to mention that having everything in a unified place will make it easier for everyone to be as productive as possible.
Although remote working can seem intimidating when you’re not used to it, there are many advantages of remote working. You can still track employees’ performance when they work from home, and the added benefit is that you don’t have to worry about the physical costs of keeping employees when they’re remote.
Video interfaces and other unified platforms are perfect for your communications system, especially when some or all members of staff are working remotely.
When you’re smart about it, you can advertise your business on a very tight budget. Word-of-mouth advertising is and always has been one of the best ways to advertise businesses or products, so make sure you get outside and get creative with your advertising methods.
Every little thing adds up so make sure you take the time to review all of the small expenses and you’ll be surprised at how much you can save from cutting out anything that isn’t strictly necessary. It may seem counterintuitive to spend your time looking into everything tiny thing that your business spends money on, but it will definitely help you to save a little extra cash.
Buying in bulk is very important when trying to save money. Almost anything you can think of can be bought in bulk. As a rule, the more you buy, the cheaper the price per unit. Not only this but it’s better for the environment to buy in bulk because the products will come with less packaging and also don’t have to travel as far.
Do you really need a daily cleaner for your office? Could you perhaps clean your own windows or use the dishwasher less often?
Take a moment to look at how much you’re spending on maintenance and how much of that is really necessary. Encourage all employees to clean up after themselves, tidy the kitchen during quiet periods, and so on.
As you can see, you don’t have to have a big budget to get big results. With these money-saving tips, your SME will be able to cut costs without sacrificing quality.
Fortunately, there are some very effective ways that you can reduce your corporate tax bill, from hiring a trained and qualified accountant to applying for specific discounts and exemptions. This article will explain how you can plan to pay your corporate tax bill and reduce it significantly.
Out of all of the suggestions featured on this list, hiring an accountant is definitely the best. The reason for this is that a professional and specialist accountant will be able to calculate expenses that can be made exempt from your final tax bill, as well as apply for other discounts that you may be eligible for. Unless you’re a trained accountant, there’s no way that you will be able to apply for these things. Additionally, according to the chartered accountants from Suretax, taxes in the UK change frequently. An accountant will stay ahead of any changes, ensuring that your tax bill is as low as possible.
If your business makes profits from patented inventions, then it may be possible for you to claim patent box tax relief and pay a rate of 10% corporation tax on those profits. You could also claim R&D tax relief. It’s likely that you have never heard of either of these things, which further goes to show that you need a trained accountant to handle your business’s tax returns for you. There are myriad HMRC exemptions that you could potentially be entitled to, but without professional help, you won’t be able to realise them.
Remember, just because you didn’t claim tax relief for an expense from last year, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still claim it. You have up to two years from the end of an accounting period to claim certain tax reliefs, including R&D tax reliefs, patent box relief, and capital allowances. It’s definitely worth doing your research and seeing whether or not you were eligible to claim any of these exemptions in your last tax year. You may be able to bring down your corporation tax for this year, by claiming last year and getting a rebate.
Each year, HMRC allows businesses to benefit from their annual investment allowance, which allows businesses to claim tax relief on purchases of business assets up to a specific limit. The annual investment allowance limit increased to £1 million on January 1, 2019. If your business qualifies, then you will be able to write off a significant amount of investment from your profits. Again, it’s likely that an accountant or trained bookkeeper will be better at determining what you can write off. It’s always best to leave it to the professionals.
You are allowed to claim a 2% allowance on new commercial building expenditure, as long as the claim was made after 29 October 2018. The figure has risen to 3% for claims made post-April 2020. It is also important to extensively study the expenditure incurred so that you can determine whether it qualifies for any other capital allowances. The claim does not have to be made when the costs were incurred. Instead, claims can be made going back several years, sometimes more. It’s important to speak to a professional about this, in order to receive their advice and guidance.
You mustn’t ever forget that you are entitled to claim back any business expenses. Company directors regularly incur expenses on behalf of their business but do not claim them back when they file their tax returns. This is something that you need to get into the habit of because it can bring down your tax bill significantly. If there are any expenses incurred by you for your business, such as taxis, meals, and petrol, then you are able to claim them back as a business expense. Do not try to exaggerate expenses or claim things that were not business expenses, however, or you could get into trouble.
It’s usually the case that businesses are able to make deductions from their profits for pension contributions, paid into pension schemes on behalf of employees or directors. Payments have to be made before the year’s accounting ends and cannot take place several years later. This is a very effective way of reducing one’s corporation tax. It also ensures that a sizeable pension is set up, waiting for you when you reach old age. Many people do not think about their pension or retirement, often resulting in them suffering later on in life.
When you are working from home, you are able to claim back some money for home expenses, such as heating, lighting, and electricity (but only in your work area). You may also be able to claim money for increased internet charges, insurance, and telephone calls. Again, all of this can be discussed and researched by a trained accountant, who will be able to determine whether or not you are eligible to claim back any home expenses. Many people have been working from home because of the pandemic, so it’s definitely worth considering this if you have been stuck at home.
Make sure that your business claims all of the loss reliefs that are available to it. Businesses can suffer many different types of losses, some of which can be claimed back on your tax return. It is also possible to claim a previous year’s losses under some circumstances.
Finally, you might also want to consider throwing a staff party. You’re able to throw a staff party annually, with up to £150 per head, completely tax-deductible. This is a very effective way of rewarding one’s staff while saving money on one’s tax return.
Taxes aren’t getting any cheaper. With inflation on the rise, tax hikes are due to arrive this coming tax year. It’s important to discuss your options with a professional accountant, who will be able to strategise and tailor a plan to your business.
The common misconception about productivity is that it relates to staff apathy, but this is not what productivity measures. Instead, productivity improvements are created through investment in technology, supporting staff and considering new ways of working. Here, we take a look at some of the things that Finance Directors can do to boost productivity.
Business process automation is becoming one of the most popular and important forms of digitisation. The simple premise behind process automation is taking business procedures that take a lot of repetitive manual effort from human staff, and transferring those tasks to software and other technology.
Naturally, there are a number of simple and repetitive tasks that take a lot of effort from finance department workers. So the move to automate these processes can save staff a significant amount of time. This frees them up to take on tasks that are more functionally valuable and productive for the company as a whole.
While process automation is one form of digitisation that has become important to the finance department - it is also crucial to look at emerging technologies and possibilities. One area that Finance Directors really need to be investigating is artificial intelligence. Transformative technologies such as machine-learning algorithms and natural language tools can not be easily implemented.
One overlooked area in terms of finance is the power of AI chatbots. These can save members of the team a great deal of time in explaining concepts and simple details to people who have questions. Of course, when the chatbots aren’t able to answer a question it can be passed on to a member of the team. But for simple queries, it can save a lot of time and boost productivity.
The finance team can be at risk from something known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. BEC attacks are often designed to trick members of the finance team and therefore disrupt processes. “BEC is a specialist type of phishing attack that is becoming increasingly prevalent,” says Simon Monahan of cybersecurity specialists Redscan, “BEC attacks are designed to impersonate senior executives and trick employees, customers or vendors into wiring payment for goods or services to alternate bank accounts.”
As well as being frustrating to deal with, the threat of this type of attack can significantly reduce productivity, as members of the team have to confirm identities even before processing payments from familiar people. Investing in cybersecurity can minimise this risk and free up valuable staff time.
It is often underestimated just how important morale is to a finance department’s efficiency and productivity. The world has gone through the Covid-19 pandemic and come out of the other side with many things changed. Finance Directors must recognise this and accept that they might need to do something to help refocus and improve the morale of staff.
It is no controversy to say that when staff are happy and feel good about what they are doing, they can be more productive and efficient. This could be something as simple as ensuring more regular meetings between members of staff, overhauling how the department works, and ensuring that staff feel comfortable with any changes.
With finance departments operating remotely now as the new norm, many businesses are finding that their productivity levels have increased. With flexible working patterns, employees enjoy the balance of hybrid working.
Some companies choose not to move in that direction, preferring staff to work at the office wherever possible. If you are in this position, it is important to recognise the benefits of promoting remote working.
It is necessary not only to invest in technology and software to help finance teams become more productive but also to thoroughly consider processes and adapt well to new ways of working. Many businesses evolve their finance processes not through striving for perfection, but simply because things need to get done. Examine your finance team’s procedures and look for opportunities to improve.
About the author: Annie Button is a professional content writer and branding aficionado.
Over 76% of employees in England’s capital would be prepared to resign from their current role to avoid travelling into the office. Covid safety concerns on public transport play a key role in the findings, with 60% of those surveyed citing the commute as a major obstacle to their safe return to the workplace and 44% of those surveyed saying they would quit their current job because of it.
38% of employees in the UK said the length of their commute was a reason to quit, while 29% said the cost of travel was to blame. Meanwhile, 36% of those surveyed pointed to the toll commuting takes on their mental health.
Outside of the capital, 54% of employees are considering resigning due to the commute.
Younger workers in particular are less willing to commute to work. The survey found that 70% of Generation Z and Millennials said they would quit if the commute did not suit their lifestyle.
We believe the future of work will be more productive and provide an enhanced experience for our people and our clients. We expect most of our workforce will follow a hybrid working model, being more flexible about where work is done at client sites, Deloitte offices, and virtually.
The hybrid work model is just one part of our larger flexible/agile working strategy, which Deloitte first began implementing formally and informally well before the pandemic with an eye toward talent retention and enabling the wellbeing of our professionals.
For us, flexible working can be defined in multiple ways. It can include working remotely or in a hybrid fashion; adjusting schedules to accommodate team, home, and client situations; adopting technology solutions to enable seamless collaboration; and adapting to meet fluctuating business needs. It also may encompass other approaches, such as abbreviated or flexible work hours or working longer, but fewer days each week.
The Deloitte approach to flexible working puts trust in our people to manage the actual day-to-day balance of where work is done while ensuring quality and meeting clients’ needs. We understand that in-person connections are important in building long-term relationships with our people and our clients. So, we are intentional about how we meet to accelerate personal growth, development, and wellbeing, build our culture, and allow us to harness the power of collaboration. We will also continue to leverage our diverse workspaces and investment in world-class Deloitte University campuses to facilitate in-person moments that matter.
We’ve seen many benefits to our flexible working approach, including a positive impact on the attraction, retention, and advancement of women and also, more widely, parents and caregivers of all genders; it also includes a positive impact on the well-being of our professionals, better enabling them to balance priorities inside and outside work.
But we know that the benefits of getting flexible working right go beyond this. Over the past few years, our Millennial and Gen Z Survey has shown that younger generations are overwhelmingly in favour of having more flexibility. And the pandemic has only accelerated this trend—a quarter of millennials and 22% of Gen Zs said they would like to work in the office “a little to a lot less often” than they did pre-pandemic.
Flexible work can also help advance progress toward Deloitte’s environmental sustainability ambitions at a very critical time. When employees work from home part- or full-time rather than commute, they help, in a small but meaningful way, reduce Deloitte’s carbon footprint.
A successful approach to flexible working requires support from leaders. The sudden shift to working fully remote during the pandemic was an equaliser – everyone was online and leaders needed to learn how to engage and lead through this medium. Hybrid introduces a new layer of complexity – some will be “in the room” and some won’t. For hybrid working to work, leaders need to adapt their leadership style to accommodate the different needs of their teams. Encouraging this flexibility and agility has been a focus for us.
We also know that part of this is about making in-person connections more meaningful. These in-person “moments” that matter need to build and enhance connectivity to our colleagues and Deloitte.
Yes, as long as leaders lead in an inclusive and boundary-enabling way; we need to remember that being located at home for the majority of one’s working week can result in a blurring of boundaries. For example, in Deloitte’s recent Women @ Work survey, many of the respondents reported a blurring of boundaries during the pandemic, feeling overwhelmed and judged on the hours spent online rather than work output. “Lack of work-life balance” was the top reason women gave for considering leaving their employer, and they cited “providing flexible working options that do not hinder my career progression” as one of the top three most important ways that organisations can support the retention of women.
Thus, to make flexible working succeed, organisations must make sure they’re fostering a workplace culture that recognises and rewards productivity and performance over presenteeism; one that enables clear boundaries and balance between work and life without fear of adverse career impact. This will come down to policies but it will also come down to how leaders include and manage everyone, regardless of location.
People need the right technologies to help them work together, even when they’re physically together. Deloitte uses a variety of tools that contribute to our culture of collaboration, including cloud-based tools and platforms, teleconferencing capabilities, and cybersecurity controls, which have become all the more important in a flexible environment.
Our 2020 Resilience Report found that organisations that had invested in technologies and systems that support remote working prior to 2020 were also more likely to successfully pivot and adapt in response to disruptive events—a strong indicator of the relationship between technology, collaboration and resilience. Going forward, tools and technologies that enable seamless collaboration and communication will be increasingly important. Early adopters of new technology will not only have the digital‑first infrastructure in place to continue to support flexible working, but they will also have a digital‑first workplace culture and capabilities.
A survey of 30,000+ workers by Microsoft revealed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions this year. Meanwhile, a study of UK and Irish workers by Personio found that 38% of those surveyed were planning to resign within the next six months to a year. It appears that the Great Resignation is not yet over, causing stress and lost profits for many employers around the globe. But what exactly is driving so many employees to change careers, or quit the workforce altogether?
For some workers, the pandemic prompted a shift in priorities, encouraging them to become stay-at-home parents, start their own business, or pursue their dream careers. However, the latest report by Limeade shows that the vast majority of workers left because they were unhappy in their roles.
According to Limeade’s report, 40% of employees cited burnout as a top reason for leaving their job. Burnout appeared to be a particular problem for those working in healthcare and foodservice/ hospitality. 54% of healthcare workers and 52% of foodservice/ hospitality workers said that burnout was their key motivation for leaving their previous roles.
Burnout was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon” in 2019. Mental Health UK defines burnout as “a state of physical and emotional exhaustion”, that occurs when a person experiences long-term stress in a job, or when a person has worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long period. Common symptoms include:
Burnout can have a hugely negative impact on an employee’s quality of work, commitment and loyalty to an employer, and can result in a ripple effect on the rest of the workforce through increased interpersonal conflict and workflow disruption. If an employer does not have the proper care in place to help employees who are dealing with chronic burnout, then the result can be resignation, with resigning employees even encouraging others to follow suit.
Prior to the pandemic, many workers had not experienced remote working. Then, at the peak of the pandemic, offices everywhere were forced to shut their doors and workers were told to work from home. While remote and hybrid working models were already beginning to gain popularity pre-pandemic, the pandemic certainly accelerated this new working trend, and many believe it’s a “trend” here to stay. According to Limeade, 40% of job changers surveyed said they were attracted to their new position because of the opportunity for remote working that it provided. This suggests that an increasing number of the global workplace now expects to work from home moving forward and enjoys the often better work-life balance that it provides.
According to the BBC, poor treatment at work is another major reason behind the Great Resignation, with the pandemic exacerbating already-toxic workplace cultures. The BBC cites a recent Stanford University study which shows that companies with a positive working culture tended to continue to treat employees kindly throughout the pandemic, while many companies with already-established poor working environments doubled down on decisions that didn’t support employees, such as layoffs. This drove many already-disgruntled employees to leave the company they were at altogether. According to Limeades report, some employees were so dissatisfied with the culture at their workplace that 28% of respondents said they left their jobs without having another lined up.
With inflation and the cost of living on the rise, dissatisfaction with their pay packet was another major reason for employees handing in their notice. According to Limeade’s report, 37% of job changers were attracted to a new position by the better salary on offer. In fact, in the foodservice/ hospitality sector, better compensation was the number one reason that attracted respondents to their new roles.
While Moody’s analytics chief economist believes the Great Resignation could be over by 2023, many believe employees demanding more from their employers is a shift here to stay. The pandemic has changed the priorities of millions and it has now become almost compulsory for companies to make serious investments in their workers’ wages, well-being, work-life balance, and opportunities.
“When there’s a lot of people moving, that costs companies in terms of turnover and lost productivity,” points out Ross Seychell, chief people officer at Personio. “It takes six to nine months to onboard someone to be fully effective. Companies that lose a lot of their workforce are going to struggle with this over the next 12 to 16 months, and maybe much longer. Companies that don’t invest in their people will fall behind.”
Implementing technological solutions to your business is one of the best and smartest ways for you to save money. The world is filled with companies trying to sell you the latest and most innovative methods for you to use their technology within your operations, so it is difficult to decide what is best for your business. The following are five ways technology can save your business money.
If you are running a logistics operation, the safety of your fleet and keeping down costs will be some of your largest concerns. Building a video-based fleet safety programme is a way to reduce costly accidents, avoid false claims and save money. Real-time footage can be used to provide drivers with effective training and address any bad habits they may have. Potential legal costs are also a worry for any fleet, and with this system, you will mitigate all risks as you have easily accessible evidence should any legal problems arise. You can review a guide online that will answer all your questions and show you how to implement a video-based fleet safety programme.
The use of artificial intelligence is one of the smartest ways to reduce your business costs. Machines are now able to do many of the menial, repetitive tasks that were often given to low skilled workers. Using AI will save you on the costs of employing workers whose tasks can easily be done by computers. You can use that money to invest elsewhere in your business and employ people who are highly skilled and bring value to your company.
If you want the best marketing solutions, you are going to have to invest in technology. Beware of some of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make if you do not research properly. Despite this initial investment, in the long term, your business will reap the rewards of having a more effective marketing strategy. There is software available that can help you with the analytical side of marketing. This is especially useful for social media marketing where analytics are a crucial aspect. You will be saving money on employees while also increasing your profits by having more effective marketing campaigns.
Remote working has come to the forefront of working practices. In the current, pandemic influenced world, businesses have had to find ways to allow their employees to work effectively from home. Remote working has been the solution and it has the added benefit of reducing overall costs. Office space can be reduced as it may no longer be needed and workers are more productive when working from home. Assess whether you really need certain employees in your physical office, if not, remote working is the answer.
Technology provides an abundance of training opportunities. Video conferencing allows you to connect to anywhere in the world which reduces the costs of having to pay to bring an expert to your business. There are vast amounts of resources available, too. Some training videos are available for free, and learning resources are easily available for certain skills such as new languages. Using these training resources will save you money and reduce your operating costs so use them to their full potential.
18 months into the pandemic, many employees that were stranded outside their country of employment, due to border closures or lockdowns, have continued to work remotely from overseas. Some reasons for this include a desire to stay close to their families, live in their home country or achieve a better work-life balance. Whilst the rise of remote working has been made possible by advancements in technology, it is a new and unexpected challenge for many businesses.
Even though remote working has, in many cases, enhanced employee productivity and job satisfaction, there are several factors that employers must consider before authorising remote working arrangements or extending them to additional workers.
If employees are working overseas, it is crucial that the correct visas and work permits are obtained. While it may seem easy for an employee to work remotely from an overseas jurisdiction, if found to be infringing local immigration rules, there could be serious financial and reputational implications for both the individual and the business.
Overseas jurisdictions will often require the employer to run a payroll in that country to report and pay local tax and social security contributions. Whilst there is a potential that the individual may not ultimately have any tax liability, the administrative obligations regarding reporting and withholding may remain, followed by a time delay in securing tax repayments. From an employer’s perspective, this can lead to increased costs, an added administrative burden, and staff dissatisfaction.
If an employee is liable for monthly tax deductions in their new country of residence as well as their original place of work, this may cause them significant cash flow problems. In some cases, it may be possible for the employer to reach an agreement with HMRC to claim advance foreign tax credit relief. This will help to reduce or extinguish the UK tax liability by the amount of foreign taxes paid each month. In addition to tax on their employment income, working abroad may also inadvertently expose an employee to tax on their worldwide income and wealth.
The social security position should be assessed carefully to determine where contributions should be paid by the employer and the employee. Generally, contributions are payable where the individual lives and works. In situations where the remote working arrangement is permanent, employer and employee social security contributions should be payable in the work location. However, this can be particularly challenging in temporary remote working scenarios and a determination will have to be made based on the country combinations, the existence of social security agreements, and the possibility of obtaining Certificates of Coverage. In worst-case scenarios, contributions could be due in both jurisdictions, with the individual ending up with fragmented records in multiple countries.
When working overseas, the employee may inadvertently create a Permanent Establishment Risk for the company in the other jurisdiction. The activities carried out by the employee may expose the company to corporate tax and sales tax (VAT) liabilities and reporting obligations in the overseas jurisdiction.
If an employee is expected to work overseas permanently or for an extended period, their employment contracts may need to be revised to reflect the laws of the other jurisdiction. Employers need to be aware of the employment laws surrounding events such as dismissals, terminations, disputes, and maternity leave that apply to their globally remote workforce as these could be different to the corresponding UK employment laws.
When working outside of the office, the general security risks posed to company data and equipment may be greater. This is especially true when working overseas in unfamiliar territory. Local data protection laws must be fully understood and upheld by both employees and employers to protect all parties.
Compliance requirements vary by country and are often dependent upon the circumstances relating to the employee’s stay. While global remote working requests should be handled individually, advance planning can help employers protect their reputation and financial position. Some additional costs may be unavoidable, but if all factors are dealt with thoroughly and responsibly, workforces will be able to enjoy the benefits of remote working long into the future, while mitigating the risks associated with non-compliance for their employers.
About the author: Sanjukta Ray is an employment tax and global mobility manager at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP.
I was looking back through some old work files the other day. I came across a glossy brochure from a former employer setting out some internal reforms designed to make the organisation fit for the future. “Vision 2020” was the less than original title, a reform programme that promised to deliver sweeping competitive advantage by the year 2020.
Funnily enough the words “pandemic”, “lockdown” and “remote working” didn’t feature in this breezy portrayal of a land flowing with milk and honey. Read with the benefit of hindsight, the document was a vivid reminder of the dangers of predicting the future. We can make our best guess, sure, and teams of analysts do just that, fuelled by human insight and the power of technology, but the future is always going to be something of an undiscovered country.
This, surely, is one of the key takeaways from this whole experience. Rather than predicting what will happen, business leaders should instead expect the unexpected. Surely no one will now query investing in robust rapid response plans and flexible IT support systems – prerequisites for any organisation, large or small, public or private. But what else can leaders, particularly those in the financial sphere, garner from the past 18 months or so? There’s no shortage of lessons to draw.
We’re all going to have our individual memories of the pandemic. For me, it's things like getting the first text about my vaccine. Another is that feeling of leaving the office in mid-March 2020 and wondering when I would next be back. But individual recollections aside, Covid’s impact has been ubiquitous. We really have all been experiencing it to greater or lesser extents and this means that getting the right culture in place is key. Empathy for those hit harder than others, as well as having a supportive and trusting attitude towards remote working, have been key. Compassion and kindness really do go a long way.
It’s not just people skills though. Infrastructure, too, is likely to change dramatically. We’ve learned that good work can be done in the office and at home but that’s no reason to cut investment in an organisation’s physical premises. On the contrary, making an office as pleasant as possible, with meeting rooms and social areas in abundance, will help persuade employees to brave their commute once again.
The good news is that the economy appears to be recovering strongly and contract opportunities across the public and private sectors have thankfully remained plentiful. For example, there have been over 100,000 open tenders and frameworks issued and public spending worth over £1000 billion by the UK Government alone within the last 12 months.
Of course, opportunities vary in size from the smallest to the largest, but competition is fierce – if anything fiercer than before Covid and likely to remain so as companies jostle for advantage as the economy recovers. While who you know is still important in any procurement, the process is becoming ever more digital, with more tenders moving online and industry open days and other one-to-one interactions becoming an ever more digital experience.
The sheer scale of this conversion to all things digital means that now, more than ever, organisations need to industrialise their business winning processes. This will enable them to reap digital dividends, such as using technology to streamline procedures and increase their own efficiency, and in the process save their precious time to do the things that cannot be streamlined – such as the human interaction that can often secure the golden nugget of information that secures the win.
An online treasure trove of information is now available, on both the market and on new opportunities that organisations would wish to bid for. Using data feeds, market trackers (like my very own Contract Finder Pro, for example) and integrating both outsourced (like bid writers and legal teams) and insourced components and services, the business winning process can become increasingly automated and slick.
Since there is never quite enough time to write a bid, those organisations that can automate the process most effectively and take advantage of the digital opportunity at hand will be more competitive than those that don’t. Their reward will be larger market shares and the promise of even more competitive advantage still to come.
About the author: Sandy Boxall is founder and Managing Director of Contract Finder Pro firstname.lastname@example.org
The policy will come into effect next month in a bid to lift other Covid-related rules at the firm, such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. The company has already introduced “vaccine-only” workspaces within some office departments, though in the near future, employees who are not yet fully vaccinated will be expected to continue working remotely, despite calls by Morgan Stanely’s CEO James Gorman for staff to return to the office.
Currently, the policy operates on an honour system, though in the near future the bank may decide to ask its employees for proof of vaccination status. Mr Gorman has said if his employees are able to dine in restaurants around the city, then he sees no reason why they cannot return to the office. The CEO has also said that he would be “very disappointed” if US workers had not made the return by September. Several other banks are also taking a tough stance against home-working. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, has recently said he wants US employees back in the office from July.
Business growth consultant Daniel Groves offers Finance Monthly an insight into the business trends which will define post-pandemic life.
2021 is expected to be a year of change, with businesses around the world optimistic that the months ahead will be brighter than what 2020 dealt us. Many of the micro trends that companies thought would be temporary measures throughout the pandemic have become macro trends that are here to stay. These are a few of the trends that small businesses and entrepreneurs should be watchful of in order to maximise their efforts and enhance the likelihood of success.
The way we shop and interact with businesses has changed and it’s unlikely that we’ll return to the old way of engaging with companies. Businesses have had to adapt swiftly and boost their online presence, including digitising their operations to meet the demand for online services. There’s been a huge shift to online shopping, forcing companies to rethink their strategies, owing to the desertion of the high street.
An online presence is vital in today’s digital world to compete, and companies need to have a strong digital footprint to engage with customers. But in the next normal, the focus will be on online experiences over in-person alternatives. The future of business will centre around digital offerings and solutions, from the increase in remote working tools to experiential shopping experiences that make use of artificial intelligence and data-driven innovation, including live streaming eCommerce.
A study by PwC discovered that customers expect efficiency, convenience, and a welcoming service from businesses, and they would pay more for these elements. All of these features are achieved through a blend of technology and the human touch, so, companies need to focus on digitisation going forward to stay competitive. There are various ways that businesses will create a more convenient experience for customers, from subscription models and delivery to reducing friction with cashless payments. Contact-free payments, like QR codes, are a flexible way to accept contactless payments, creating a new kind of convenience for customers while also streamlining processes for staff. QR codes are faster and versatile for a host of industries, but they are also incredibly accessible and easy for customers to use, making them a frictionless solution.
Automation will be a top business trend in the next normal, as businesses return to normal, albeit with a larger remote workforce than pre-pandemic. Many businesses are seeking efficiency, in many cases because their workforce has diminished as a result of the pandemic, which has meant a greater reliance on automation. Automation tools can help businesses build greater resilience and agility to adapt when situations call for it. Here are a few of our favourite automation tools for UK businesses:
Automated interfaces such as chatbots are helping businesses to deal with customer service and are delivering a better customer experience. While simplicity was important during lockdowns, automation isn’t going anywhere now that lockdowns are lifting.
In fact, in the next normal, we’re likely to see more automation as businesses look to technology to streamline their operations, deliver more consistent services and manage workloads. From smart devices used in healthcare to monitor patient's vitals to using it for administrative tasks, automation is here to stay.
The pandemic forced businesses to adapt to a distributed workforce, but many business owners have been pleased with the results and don’t want to return to the old way of doing things. There’s no doubt that there are challenges to working remotely, for some industries more than others, whether it’s data security, fostering effective engagement, or maintaining efficiency.
But the benefits have outweighed the difficulties to make remote working a staple feature of businesses going forward. Remote working offers productivity benefits, cost-saving measures, and a better work-life balance for staff, making it an appealing option for many companies who will be seeking solutions to the challenges they’ve faced over the past year to improve operations in the future.
The way businesses operate has changed indefinitely. SMEs can begin making tactical adjustments to adapt accordingly while also growing. There are many ways to adopt these trends going forward but staying flexible and prioritising digital transformation are at the heart of them all. Companies that can integrate digital practices into their existing processes with agility will increase their successes in the long term.