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Happy New Year has a hollow ring this year but it’s not a reason to be pessimistic




Photo: Immo Wegmann


It’s been hard to say Happy New Year when we're all going to be faced with more profound challenges. But I guess what I really mean is ‘I hope you have the happiest and most positive new year you can possibly manage under these circumstances’.


Be agile, creative and most of all, prepared


Talking of circumstances, they too have changed profoundly since the turn of last year. We can’t even say this is the ‘new normal’ as that seems to shape shift at will. What we do understand is that agility, creativity and preparedness are qualities that will keep us going and maintain momentum in these potentially turbulent twelve months.


Adapt and survive



Photo: Hulki Okan Tabak


What I have noticed, however, is how business practices have adapted to cope. Yes, a vaccine may well help, but the future of work looks very different Who wants to add a three-hour commute to the mix when operating from home reaps some massive rewards? I think many organisations have finally understood that remote working really does deliver the goods and undoubtedly that will continue to have a significant impact. Considering 3 in every 5 workers are likely to be working remotely this will be a subject area that will be constantly reviewed. What we sometimes overlook is how we place extraordinary burdens on our Internet connections and our expectations are very high. We take them for granted until things go wrong. Let’s hope that more wireless and 5G continues to be rolled out sooner rather than later. This could mean a £38 billion productivity gain by 2025, for the UK, if 5G is brought forward. Vodafone suggests that data speeds may even be increased and end up being 100 times faster than 4G. It’s exciting and something that feels optimistic amidst the gloom.


Throughout the ongoing changes and disruption being agile has been key



Photo Petr Ruzicka


Being able to adapt to ever-morphing ideas and trends and also making quick but informed decisions, are also growing in importance. We have the benefit of greater insights, data and predictive intelligence. Demand patterns and market changes are easily now trackable as is consumer behaviour and need. Data driven efficiencies are essentials and will help performance and profits too.

What has also been very gratifying are the collaborations, partnerships and sharing of data that has gone on


I was particularly interested to see how Black Swan Data, an AI company based in the UK, has developed a partnership with EasyJet. This will mean the airline will be able to understand just what customers desire and need in relation to food consumption. This will inevitably demonstrate how resilience in the long term can be achieved. We have seen how supply chains have been tested almost to their limit through the pandemic. Brexit will also test this further and careful management, with pinpoint accuracy, will be required to ensure the flow of goods, especially food, is not interrupted.


I suppose the downside has been the effect on mental health



Photo: Quinton Coetzee


Certainly, some people’s social lives have collapsed as a result of working from home. There have been no trips to the pub to celebrate Friday, coffee meet-ups or meals out. However, some innovation has taken place with online dinners and massive group gatherings and an initiative I particularly liked: an online cheese and wine tasting session. I’m sure there’s a massive market in virtual gatherings being cooked up as I write.


However, in all seriousness, mental health in its broadest terms has been a toughie


It has been quite a ritual to remain positive throughout and I truly believe that if you have a ‘no business’ mindset then that’s what you are likely to experience. It might sound trite, but companies are recruiting and there are opportunities to be discovered and created. They might be doing it in a different way and certainly face to face interviews have all but bitten the dust, but things are happening, and we all have to be ready and willing to embrace constant change. Recruitment has ben transformed; even key appointments are being made without physical f2f interviews. Who knows what is next? Predictions?


What will you be developing or investigating this year? What are your top priorities for your business in 2021?