June 25 kick started the first in a series of webinars for the Solent 250 businesses. Sponsors CMA, HSBC UK, Irwin Mitchell and RSM have put together a programme of webinars covering a range of current topics to bring relevant updates to the business community. The first session covered the impacts of the current Covid-19 crisis on businesses and individuals and ways that the economy can be revived.
It was interesting to hear from Richard Dibden, commercial director from CMA Recruitment Group who shared data gathered from the Southern Region Market Analysis Report project for the first time.
The data involved CMA conducting over 300 questionnaires with senior managers and professionals across the Solent region. Dibden revealed that 84% of businesses in the region believed the impact of remote working has been ‘minimal’ and 91% of those interviewed would like to work from home at least one day a week in the future.
Following Dibden’s insights, Hannah Clipston, partner at Irwin Mitchell, discussed how the region and industry sectors have been affected and she also addressed what opportunities may arise to rebuild our economy, confidence and working practices by reference to Irwin Mitchell’s latest UK Powerhouse Report produced in conjunction with the Centre for Economics and Business Research. Clipston revealed that GVA fell in the South East by 35% or £393 million a day at the height of lockdown. A staggering decline, but as a region the South East is in a better position for a stronger recovery (with only London retaining more of its GVA per day).
Interestingly more people in the South East were already working from home before the crisis and therefore this could be a reason why 84% of people that CMA surveyed considered that the impact of home working was minimal. It also gives hope for a stronger recovery as one of the areas where businesses in the South East could increase productivity in the future is by considering flexible working arrangements.
More detail from the Report can be accessed here but Clipston’s summary indicated that the accommodation and food services activities in the South East saw the biggest loss of GVA per day at 94% compared to pre Covid-19 levels or £29.7m per day. In contrast, the information and communication sector saw only a small 2% decline in GVA per day equating to £1.5m, which is extrinsically linked to our accelerated move to online networks and working from home.
James Tetley from RSM chaired the subsequent Q&A, noting: “It’s interesting to now be able to put some data around the experiences that we have all lived through in the past three months, both personally and professionally”.
In the Q&A, one participant observed that working from home was seen as positive by many employees – but what about from the perspective of a SME business owner. Ultimately, the past few months had shown that business leaders have trusted their teams to do their best to work effectively, and trust has been repaid. Clipston noted that flexibility was key – giving an employee the ability to flex their day or working pattern was a big reason that overall output has been relatively immune.
The next session will be run on Thursday, July 30, where sponsors Irwin Mitchell and RSM will discuss making your business fit for purpose in the new normal. Further details of upcoming sessions will be available soon.