‘Adapt and Juggle’ to thrive after Freedom Day
With “Freedom Day” finally happening this week, we examine how the United Kingdom’s grand reopening will affect business owners across the country.
UK businesses have been profoundly shaken and reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck just as the country was entering into a new trading relationship with the EU.
While the trail to recovery and growth will be different for each company and sector, all business owners will need a combination of insight and agility as they seek to navigate the months ahead.
One of the most important factors that has emerged from the pandemic is the acceleration of digitisation, particularly through the utilisation of e-commerce and remote working.
During the pandemic, there was a major shift to online consumption, with online sales increasing in the UK from 20 per cent in January 2020 to 36 per cent in January 2021. In a recent survey, the bulk of UK consumers said they planned to maintain some of their new shopping habits post-pandemic.
Couple this with the fact that 87% of consumers begin their buying journey online (https://www.retaildive.com/news/87-of-shoppers-now-begin-product-searches-online/530139/) and it becomes clear that as a business owner whether you sell lawnmowers or professional services, our prospective clients and customers are now online and we need to have clear marketing strategies to access them.
A similar picture is emerging when it comes to remote working, with many employees saying they would like to continue working from home. Employers, on the other hand, take a quite different view: only 9% of companies said they saw an increase in productivity through remote working, with the vast majority reporting a decrease.
Some companies are considering adopting “hybrid” workplaces, which will see employees splitting their working hours between home and the workplace where possible. But most businesses do not see remote working as a long-term plan for their future.
The Future for UK Businesses
So, what next for British business? It is not all doom and gloom by any means. Predictions suggest many businesses will thrive in the “new normal” as consumers begin to take advantage of their newfound sense of freedom.
In addition, many consumers have saved significantly over the last 18 months and are now looking to invest their savings in such as property, holidays, and home renovations.
With international travel restrictions in place, many businesses are currently reaping the benefits of British residents choosing to holiday in the UK. The leisure industry in particular appears to be bouncing back, with many hotels, holiday homes and holiday parks throughout the country selling out for the summer months.
This is in part thanks to one of the best vaccination rollouts in the world, with approximately 65% of the UK population aged over 18 having now received both doses of the vaccine.
That said, it remains unclear how the re-opening of the UK after ‘Freedom Day’ will impact cases of Covid-19 and also hospitalisations.
Adapt and juggle
Consequently, for UK business owners, there is a need to adapt and juggle. Adapt to the new shopping habits of clients and customers, making sure our marketing is ‘fit for purpose’.
At the same time, business owners will need to juggle the need for their businesses to both survive and thrive, whilst taking into account that employees and team members at all times need to feel safe.
Business owners will need to increase their levels of engagement like never before. Engagement with customers, clients, suppliers and not least employees. In my view, the businesses that succeed in the months ahead, will be those who keep talking and keep communicating.
As business owners, there are many challenges ahead, as we seek to navigate what is unchartered waters. We will need to ‘adapt and juggle’ as we go.
I would argue, as business owners, that’s what we do best.