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Jeremy's Blog - 21st May 2020

Covid-19 now sits alongside Brexit as a radical accelerant of business change. The impact of the restrictions has been described as fast-forwarding business practice from March 2020 to, say, March 2025, with:

  • the accelerated use of the internet, home working with remote contacts with clients, and
  • the accelerated shock for much of retail and business use of public transport, aviation and hospitality.

How might this balance out as restrictions slowly lift and businesses and people find how they want to work, live and eat? What will be as before? What changes might last?

The longer the restrictions apply, the more radical might be the scale of business change. They severely test those heavily borrowed businesses that survived the 2008 financial crisis only by low interest rates. The risk of the modern economy now unravelling also offers the prospect for adaptable businesses, existing and new, to come forward as they did in the 1980s. What might be our business models for the future?

Remote working has been easier as members have been working with clients, properties and businesses they know. However, with a profession that is about people, those personal contacts will need to be refreshed over time, changed circumstances inspected and new contacts and clients won. Finding the new balance between networking and remote working mirrors the wider economic tension between resilience and efficiency.

The restrictions also give opportunities for firms and for individuals to think how best to be ready for the future. Who will be the clients? What will be the work? How will it be done? Following the use of drones for inspection, the swift rise of the video-call, once the expensive tool of large business, and the discovery that BPS applications and stocktaking can often be done remotely as well as on-line are ways to work but do not substitute for the relationship with the client and the personal nature of negotiation and advice.

The morals of December’s Business Review publication, focussed on farms and estates, apply equally to professional practice. Just as we hear of people using the time now to prepare to be ready to sell or to buy property, so, where and while work has eased, that gives time for reflection, planning business development, professional improvement and, indeed, to prepare for this November’s CAAV examinations.

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