How COVID-19 Has Forced the World to Go Digital

After COVID-19 forced the UK to stay at home, we have had no choice but to make some changes to our everyday lives. A lot of us have used our time wisely and come up with some quirky ways to continue life as somewhat normal – just with a virtual take on things. Being blessed with the age of digitalisation, our digital devices do just about everything for us at the click of a button.

The pandemic has seen a digital transformation in everything from online weddings to an an e-commerce takeover. According to a recent Ofcom report, the average daily screen time for TV and online video content increased to six hours 25 minutes per day since April 2020. This is up by almost a third from the year prior.

In this article, we will discuss how COVID-19 has forced the world to digital in recent months.

Virtual vows: The rise of online weddings

After recent announcements reduced the number of guests at wedding ceremonies to 15 people, the big day that many couples have dreamt of might not be as big as they expected. To overcome this issue of crossing names off the guest lists, many couples have favoured an online wedding ceremony instead. So much so, Google search data found that the term ‘virtual marriage’ experienced a 21,900% increase between February 2020 and July 2020 – proving that virtual vows have been the go-to for many couples recently.

Not only that, but for the search term ‘Zoom wedding’ has also experienced an increase of 3,800% between February and July this year. By using video call platforms such as Zoom, the new measures put in place that limit the number of physical attendees is avoided. Although saying your vows over a screen may not be initially what you had in mind, nothing should get in the way of celebrating your big day.

Technological try-ons

As basic luxuries such as being able to go to a store and try on clothing or jewellery have been stopped, many have solved this problem with the help of technology.  Since searches for the term ‘virtual engagement ring try on’ experienced an increase of 433% between March and August, jewellery crafter Angelic Diamonds has skilfully implemented a virtual ring try-on service for all of their beautiful diamond rings. This helps their customers see how the ring will look before making a purchase.

FaceTime fitness

Since attending our favourite sport and fitness classes in person has been put on hold, virtual classes have become the next best thing. Fitness company Les Mills International experienced a 900% increase in virtual sign-ups over the course of lockdown as more and more of us rely on home workouts to keep fit.

Other than virtual classes, many have taken this a step further and brought the gym to them. In recent news, high-end department store John Lewis & Partners has revealed that sales of fitness machines had increased by 369% during lockdown. Sales of yoga equipment also experienced a staggering increase of 267%. 

Digital driving days

Who’s to say you need a car to drive? Since driving lessons were placed on hold, many turned to virtual driving lessons during lockdown. Driver training simulator company Driver Interactive provides customers with a realistic driving experience that allows them to practice driving in hazardous situations from the comfort of their home.

The thriving e-commerce market

As technology advances throughout the years, the e-commerce market continues to thrive. This has been even more apparent during lockdown. Since the start of the first UK lockdown in March, e-commerce market sales increased by a staggering 161%, adding a hefty £5.3 billion extra to the market. Not only that, but more than 85,000 businesses have joined the online marketplace over recent months.

Although industries have financially suffered as a result of restrictions, many have now embraced the digital world as a result. From clothing stores opening online shops to pharmacies offering virtual prescriptions, almost every industry has found a way to continue making profits through these difficult times.

For the likes of Amazon, however, they have seen sales soar over recent months, achieving a 40% increase in sales to $88.9 billion in the second quarter of 2020. Being at an advantage when it comes to already being an entirely e-commerce store that sells everything from clothes to new car parts, there is something that all businesses can learn from Jeff Bezos’ business operations.

We have seen businesses across all industries get creative with digital in 2020. Technology plays advocate to all businesses in one way or another during these difficult times, so it’s important to adapt a digital twist to our everyday operations.

Nicole Junkermann’s Insights on the Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality

Nicole Junkermann is an international entrepreneur and investor, and the founder of NJF Holdings, an international investment company with interests in venture capital, private equity, and real estate.  Through NJF’s venture capital arm (NJF Capital), Nicole and her team oversee a portfolio across Europe and the US similar in scale to a mid-size venture fund, with a focus on HealthTech, FoodTech, FinTech, and Deep Tech.

For decades, virtual reality (VR) was nothing more than a feature of science fiction literature and movies. It has now become a prevailing element of our tech-based societies and is likely to transform our everyday lives in the near future.

VR involves using headsets or goggles to create a virtual world for users to interact with. Today, most popular VR does not only visually transport users into another reality but involves taking control of their other senses — smell, hearing, taste, and touch — to provide a deeply immersive experience.

This is different from augmented reality (AR), where either glasses or smartphones overlay virtual objects or information onto real-world scenes; blending virtual reality with real life.

Pre-pandemic, VR and AR were mainly associated with the gaming and entertainment industries. Whilst this still rings true today, both are now revolutionising the fundamentals of everyday life, from work through to health, education, and retail.

Virtual and Augmented Reality at Work

When life and business returns to some form of normality, a hybrid model of remote and office work will likely be commonplace. Employees will look to maintain connectivity and collaboration amongst colleagues, whilst continuing to build company culture within remote teams.  

Video conference platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams have been indispensable in the past year, but VR and AR technology can go further and act as a vehicle for virtual meeting spaces. The development of this technology is already well under way. Spatial, for example, is a start-up that allows people to meet ‘face to face’ through augmented or virtual reality as semi-realistic 3D avatars. VR could be the answer for those experiencing ‘zoom fatigue’ as a fun and interactive alternative.  

But it is not just meetings; VR is being used by companies training their employees. According to a PWC survey, employees in VR courses can be trained up to four times faster, are more emotionally connected to content, are more focussed learners, and are more confident in applying what they have been taught. This technology is especially useful for entry level employees, providing an experience of realistic workplace scenarios before they start their job.

Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education 

There is no doubt that virtual and augmented reality will transform learning. From transporting history students back in time, to travelling inside the human body and creating simulated scientific experiments, the possibilities are endless. VR and AR create an immersive, fun, and memorable learning experience and are likely to become increasingly popular features of the classroom.

Augmented Reality in Retail

The use of online shopping has skyrocketed during the pandemic, transforming consumers’ shopping habits. This has led to a monumental surge in the return of unwanted items. Augmented reality provides a solution to this, where customers can engage in a ‘try-before-you-buy’ digital experience and visualise the product in real time through their smartphones or smart glasses.

Argos was an early advocated for this technology. Their AR shopping app allows customers to visualise and interact with a range of furniture products in their own homes. Within the cosmetics industry, AR is a powerful tool to help boost sales, enabling customers to try product variations and styles before they buy.

Virtual Reality in Entertainment

According to a Market Watch report the VR gaming and entertainment market is expected to grow from $4.15 billion in 2018, to a mammoth $70.57 billion by 2026. In a year marked by tragedy and isolation, it should not come as a surprise to know that consumers are looking for ways to escape reality and transcend into a world outside the pandemic. Sales of VR goggles, for example, have risen by 350% as those trapped at home seek a safe way to escape lockdowns.

Applications of VR technologies to the narrower live entertainment industry are become more sophisticated. VR platforms, such as MelodyVR, are going further than just creating live experiences, offering backstage perspectives and interactions that fans could never experience at traditional in-person venues.

Virtual and augmented reality will become mainstream features of our everyday lives as technologies continue to progress, and industries continue to adapt and innovate. It is essential that business leaders keep a close eye on these developments and ensure they do not risk being left behind.

How Social Media Platforms Utilise Nostalgia Trends…

During 2020 and 2021, we’ve seen nostalgia everywhere. It makes sense, right? There’s no better time to pine for the past and relive happy memories than when we’re stuck at home during lockdown. Nostalgia has made its way into every walk of life, from our wardrobes to our Instagram feeds.

According to GlobalWebIndex, nostalgia can make humans more optimistic and have a positive influence on their actions. The research also unveiled that nostalgia was a highly common emotion. Results show that 8 in 10 say that they experience feelings of nostalgia at least occasionally and 4 in 10 say that they do so often.

This megatrend has not gone unnoticed. In fact, social media platforms have jumped on the bandwagon and have created numerous ways to facilitate our longing for times-gone-by. Although it’s sometimes tough to be reminded of holidays or nights out with friends, there’s something about a nostalgic social media post that we just can’t resist. So, let’s take a closer look at how social media platforms have embraced this trend and why we love it so much.

Wrapping it up

According to the GlobalWebIndex research, music is one of the biggest nostalgia triggers. When asked what people have felt most nostalgic about over the past year, music topped the charts for all age groups. It really seems to be true that a well-loved song can transport you to a happy time, and during lockdown, people everywhere have been turning to Spotify to find that sweet sense of nostalgia.

Because of this fondness of nostalgia in the form of music, the popularity of Spotify Wrapped makes complete sense. This feature allows users to recount their 50 most-listened-to songs, their most-listened-to artists, and even the genre that stole their heart over the year. If you’re looking to step a bit further back in time, Spotify also offers another throwback option: Spotify Time Capsule. This option allows you to listen to your top tracks of a certain year gone by while you revel in the happy memories.

Users everywhere can’t get enough of this feature, and for the music streaming company, this nostalgic trend has been a huge success. In 2020, Spotify’s mobile app downloads increased by 21 per cent in the first week of December thanks to the Wrapped feature, proving that the megatrend of nostalgia can have a huge impact.

Thanks for the memories

Now that we’ve got our ears covered in terms of nostalgic content, what about our eyes? That’s where ‘memories’ come in. Memories on Instagram, Memories on Facebook, and Timehop are all social media features that allow you to reminisce about a certain day in the past. On Instagram, you are now able to see the post you put up exactly a year ago to the day in the Memories section. Over lockdown, in which many of us have completely lost our sense of time, it’s often been difficult to fathom that you put that picture up a whole year ago! But that’s nostalgia in action!

Whether you’re reminiscing over a particularly good day out or you’re reminded of a great outfit that inspires you to dig those retro mid-heel sandals out of the wardrobe again, the Memories feature on Instagram and Facebook is sure to get you feeling nostalgic.  

Nostalgia marketing

As well as introducing fun (if sometimes heart-wrenching) nostalgic features, social media platforms are also jumping on the ‘nostalgia marketing’ trend that is set to dominate 2021. Nostalgia marketing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – when brands reintroduce images and themes from years gone by to sell their products and make us all think of ‘the good old days’.

Instagram, for example, utilised nostalgia marketing back in October 2020. For one month only, the image-sharing app allowed users to revert to some of the apps retired, old school logos (including the classic 2010 logo that caused mild outrage when it was decommissioned). This fun feature allowed users to go back to the logo that is now considered retro, tapping into people’s love for all things nostalgic.

It’s not the first time we’ve encountered nostalgia marketing. The trend has seen a few resurgences over the years. It became very popular during both the Great Depression and the 2000s’ recession, and now it’s back. Clearly, we’re all prone to feeling reminiscent when we’re going through a turbulent time.

If there’s one thing we’ve really craved over the last year, it’s a blast from the past. Thankfully, social media has seen our wishes and granted them. Now, all there is left to do is work on creating some new memories that we can begin to feel nostalgic about in years to come.

Planning for Demand: What Merchants Can Learn from The Pandemic

From the outset, COVID-19 has disrupted many industries, retail being just one. With 56% of global retailers reporting moderate disruption to their supply chains and 12% reporting heavy disruption1 the pandemic has led to a need for clear visibility over the structure of supply chains. Warehousing and logistics platform Trident Worldwide discuss everything businesses should know to plan for demand.

Only a small minority of companies were in the position to secure constrained inventory, or source capacity at alternate sites at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was clarity over supply chain structure that was key for business continuity. 

Now a year in, businesses are still finding themselves adjusting to the new normal. Being proactive during these challenging times is critical and merchants need to make adequate investments, rewriting contracts expeditiously to create solutions and allow operations to proceed.

Ecommerce

One of the most fundamental changes retailers have experienced, is where and how consumers are shopping. Since the onset, ecommerce has registered the equivalent of 6 years’ worth of growth, with online retail sales showing a 53% year-on-year increase.

As a result, 64% of retailers worldwide have adapted their supply chain for e-commerce2 and its vital that merchants optimise e-commerce channels and implement online trading within long-term strategies to ensure they are not left behind.

  • Put forecasting in place to analyse demand and allow for adjustments in product volume aligned with retailer demand
  • Review ecommerce advertising and promotion spending to ensure budget is allocated to products which are in stable demand
  • Assign resource to manage SKU-level details to expand product management capabilities

Better visibility

There has been a shift in customer service from speed to transparency and understanding the full network of suppliers allows merchants to be more resilient and focus on strengthening vulnerabilities.

Investing in supply network mapping will allow merchants to stay up to date with the fast pace of retail, giving key insights to help businesses thrive.

Warehousing and stock management

Merchants are now evaluating the geography of their supply chains, especially since the start of the pandemic. Focusing on consumer behaviour change is crucial and allows further insight when planning for demand.

If suppliers can be located in more than one place across the globe or goods are stored in strategically located warehouses, not only will it take less time to get to end-consumer markets, but it also limits disruption, which has been notable throughout the pandemic, leading to brand and product switching from consumers.

28% of retailers reported having to deal with shortages and out-of-stocks and recent research has found that between 30% to 40% of consumers have been trying new brands and products as a result of their desired product being unavailable emphasising, how essential planning for demand is.

Marketing strategy

In addition to planning for demand, marketing strategies also need to be adapted, to fit consumer attitudes of the time with spend altered based on the results of your ROI, frequency and reach.

Merchants should also take advantage of digital platforms to see where their consumers are browsing. Throughout the pandemic there was a notable increase in screen time and it’s important to ensure that data is retrieved from marketing efforts, so campaigns can be adjusted appropriately, and the insights can be used to your business’ advantage.

Arjun Thaker, CEO at Trident Worldwide, said: “The pandemic has put a lot of strain on merchants and understandably it’s been a challenging time for all in the supply chain sector. Being proactive is key, and now is not the time to get behind. The pace within the industry is advancing at a rate I’ve never seen before and that just contributes towards the importance of investing into your supply chain.”

COVID-19 has undeniably caused a huge impact within the supply chain industry and merchants need to adapt in order to keep up.

Amazon Business Customers Across the UK Accelerate Digital Transformation

Amazon Business is a global procurement solution now used by more than five million business customers, ranging from sole proprietors to multinational enterprises with tens of thousands of employees on a single account. 

Since launching in the U.S. in 2015, we have expanded to eight additional countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Canada and India – and reached $25 billion in worldwide annualised sales, more than half of which are from selling partners. 

In the UK, two of our fastest-growing customer segments are enterprise customers and public entities and we serve more than 50% of FTSE 100 companies. In addition, we serve all of the 15 largest universities, 13 of the 15 biggest cities and six of the largest 15 hospitals across the UK, as well as many other public entities. Multinational enterprises from all industries – including retail, healthcare and automotive – purchase from our selection of hundreds of millions of products in categories such as office, IT, cleaning products, PPE and professional medical supplies. 

In the UK, there are millions of items with an available business discount giving customers more value for their money. Shahzad Saleem, Chief Procurement Officer at Capita, was looking to embrace a digital platform that better served their customers, while maintaining cost competitiveness. Introducing Amazon Business for Capita’s tail spend IT peripherals reduced their procurement costs by over £225,000 within the first six months. Shahzad also managed to save 32% on 12,800 headsets compared to their distributor network – and was able to cut purchasing time by 82%.

Helping multinational enterprises fast-track digital change

Amazon Business offers a set of features that suit the needs of multinational enterprises, such as business-only pricing and selection, single or multi-user business accounts, Business Prime, approval workflow, purchasing system integrations, payment solutions, dedicated customer support, to name a few.

One of those customers, Stewart Dalton, EMEA Senior Procurement Manager, AECOM, said: “By lodging a single payment card and using a punchout catalogue to Amazon Business, the time spent placing orders and reconciling invoices has been reduced by over 70%. One of the biggest benefits was the familiarity of Amazon, and we’re excited to be building a better procurement process.”

Since enterprise customers often utilise third-party solutions, including Enterprise Resource Planning systems such as SAP, and Spend Management systems like Coupa and Ariba, Amazon Business integrates directly into over one hundred of these solutions. This helps to enable real time access to millions of products, streamline expense management processes, and digitise purchase orders and invoices – lowering the overall cost of operations.

Supporting selling partners to thrive on Amazon Business 

Amazon Business selling partners are independent businesses selling through our stores. They are just as much a part of our customer base as the end buyers and we are focused on helping them accelerate their business growth.  Historically, small and medium sized businesses have struggled to sell their products to multinational enterprises, often because they lack the resources to reach them. What makes Amazon Business unique is that we enable our selling partners to reach new business buyers such as multinational enterprises, universities, government agencies and healthcare organisations. In fact, enterprise customers in the UK have increased their spending by more than 50% year-over-year with selling partners. 

We help with infrastructure, personnel, tools and services. As a company, Amazon spends billions of dollars every year to help small- and medium-sized businesses around the globe succeed. These selling partners range from manufacturers of quality consumer electronics and IT equipment, independent office supply resellers and international online bookstores, to family-owned businesses selling appliances for the home and office. 

Darren Wilson is just one of the business owners to benefit, as Director of DKW IT Consultancy Services: “Our experience with Amazon Business has been a great journey – the volume of sales we are receiving through Amazon is much greater compared with our previous channels. We have been able to leverage an established B2B customer base on Amazon Business and we realised that adding business-relevant products bring a significant increase in our revenue.”

“We were especially pleased to get orders not just from large entities but also from business customers of all types and sizes which grew our B2B segment to almost 50% of our total sales,” Darren adds.

Supporting public sector procurement

Similarly, we’ve compiled our best resources to also help public sector customers across the UK with their digital procurement efforts from hospitals, to healthcare, childcare and schools to government organisations. In addition, Amazon Business helps public entities achieve their spending requirements with small to medium-size businesses.

In the UK alone, an increasing number of public sector customers are purchasing items from selling partners including education supplies, business books, site and safety equipment, office supplies, IT equipment, and many more. One of our customers in the public sector, Kyush Modasia, Director Finance for Academies Enterprise Trust, said: “We had an operational model that was equivalent to 58 different entities all working in silo. There was a drastic need to improve system processes that were central to our new operational model. Centralisation helped us bring all our academies together in one place – so that finance operated as one function. This was key to improving our financial reporting.”

Also, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Amazon Business helped to get critical medical supplies and PPE – such as digital thermometers, ventilators, facemasks and sanitisers – to nearly 3,000 healthcare and government organisations in Europe.

 

Driving sustainability forward 

Amazon is committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet. We co-founded the Climate Pledge in 2019, committing Amazon to be net-zero carbon across all our businesses by 2040 — a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2050. 

We help Amazon Business Customers procure more sustainably. As part of the Climate Pledge Friendly programme, they can discover and purchase a growing selection of business-relevant items such as paper towels, printer paper, HDMI cables, face masks, monitors, and laptops that are already certified with recognised labels such as the Energy Star, EPEAT and Compact by Design.

Compact by Design is a new externally validated certification created by Amazon – to identify products which are designed with less air and water, so they are more efficient to ship.

The Climate Pledge Friendly programme features tens of thousands of items and we add more selection every day, allowing procurement leaders to focus on digital transformation while acting sustainably. 

Looking ahead, we continue listening to feedback from customers and selling partners. We are obsessed with innovating on their behalf to deliver what they need to be successful in meeting the demands of the future workplace. We are excited about what we have accomplished over the last six years and look forward to what lies ahead. 

3 Ethical Brands Making a Positive Change in Their Industry

The current world we live in is encouraging us to lessen our impact on the environment. One of the most important topics right now is making sure we buy from companies which are not only sustainable but also ethical. Sadly, even in the 21st century, we hear about companies that exploit workers and use unsustainable ingredients and processes. Boohoo was criticised for exploiting workers by paying them less than the minimum wage, as well as providing no COVID-19 protection in its Leicester factory.

Fortunately, we as customers have the power to influence change. With so many more of us taking an active interest in ethics and the environment, brands are adapting. Many are changing the way they operate and helping to make a positive change in their industry. As organisations take progressive actions, other brands will follow suit. With our favourite YouTubers informing us about brands to avoid and how we can make changes, it’s becoming easier to go green while keeping our usual routines.

Here, we look at some leading brands from different industries to see what they’ve done to solve an environmental issue in their sector and instigate positive change.

Guilt-free tanning

The beauty industry is known for its heavy use of plastics, particularly in packaging. Plastic waste is one of the most damaging pollutants, with microplastics getting everywhere from our soil to our water. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and usually ends up getting dumped in landfills or ingested by animals. The majority of us have more than enough beauty products serving different purposes, so there’s a lot of waste being generated.

If you’re an avid fake tanner, you probably go through a considerable number of bottles a year. You’ve stopped buying bottled water, you recycle your waste, but there are still those pesky empty bottles of tan that will end up in our landfill. Tanning brand Isle of Paradise, which offers a range of tanning products from self-tan drops to tan remover, sells refillable pouches of tanning water that use 81 per cent less plastic. The brand sources the cleanest, most ethical ingredients and regulates its manufacturing processes to reduce its environmental impact, making it an innovative and ethical company. After all, we’re avoiding the sunbeds, so fake tanning should be guilt-free!

Adventure-wear saving the day

The fashion industry makes up 10 per cent of global carbon emissions. This includes the production and transportation of clothing. The stat isn’t surprising, considering we buy 80 billion pieces of clothing each year. What is crazy is that the aviation industry only makes up two per cent!

We’re a fashion-crazy society, so it’s important that we know where to direct our money. It’s worth noting that some ethical brands attempt to profit from ethical consumers, driving up prices to make more money. Sustainable ways of business will become cheaper in the future, but for now they’re not always so affordable. So, if you can’t afford to splash out £80 on a pair of sustainable jeans, don’t feel bad. Just try to be aware of the brands that are careless and inconsiderate and avoid giving them any business.

Patagonia is a popular outdoor adventure-wear brand. Its brand mission commits to respecting the outdoors and nature like the people wearing its clothing do. Patagonia is a Certified B Corporation, which are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, among other criteria. Brands need a minimum of 80 points to be certified, and Patagonia has 151

The fabrics sourced for Patagonia’s clothing are certified organic, eco-friendly, and recycled. Unlike fast fashion brands that aim to turn stock around at two weeks, these clothes are high-quality and long-lasting. This results in clothing that will pass the test of time and won’t fall to pieces after several wears.

As well as being environmentally ethical, Patagonia is known for its progressive initiatives that make it a great place to work. These include onsite childcare, three-day weekends every other week, and a commitment to bailing any employee out of jail who is arrested for peacefully protesting for the environment. 

Clean water—not in the way you think

Bottled beverages are a huge contributor to the plastic pollution discussed above. So much so that in the UK alone, 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are consumed every year. Globally, Coca-Cola won the notorious title of the world’s biggest plastic polluter.

There’s a real issue here, particularly with the bottling of water, one of the most abundant and natural resources on the planet. Water quality is declining due to pollution, so many consumers are choosing bottled water over tap water.

CanO Water is a brand of packaged water in recyclable and sealable aluminium cans. They can be recycled an infinite number of times, creating a plastic-free cycle. Refill and reuse as you please! Wave Goodbye to Plastic Pollution is an ocean clean-up campaign created by CanO Water. Its aim is to both make our seas cleaner and raise awareness of the looming crisis our oceans are facing. The campaign encouraged the public to post a ‘wave’ emoji 🌊 on CanO Water’s Instagram post. Each wave is equivalent to removing 3.5 plastic bottles of plastic from beaches. 

When doing your research, there are ethical alternatives you can take to make sure you’re having the least negative impact on our planet!

Seven Tips to Manage your Global Team

Forget remote working, it’s all about asynchronous working thanks to an increase in global teams becoming the norm and changing the traditional workplace. Departing from the classic in-office, same-country model, global teams are creating a robust new workforce, global teams create asynchronous working styles that go against conventional practices.

Despite all of the business benefits, you might think there are many challenges that global teams face. One staff member might be gearing up for work over coffee while another might be cracking an end of day beer. Despite this, a global team structure can be one of the most efficient and exciting staff models.

New research from the UK Government and jobs website Indeed reveals offering flexible working arrangements increases job applications by 30%.

What are the benefits of Asynchronous working?

Asynchronous working styles go against conventional practices. When you think back to the classic 9-5 office job, we have a popular idea of work as a physical place that’s inhabited in real-time. This older model simply doesn’t make sense when you’re engaging with global teams. 

This style can streamline workflow processes and free teams from unproductive meetings. Of course, meetings will always have their place in the work environment, but a workday weighed down by meetings could be costing your business money. Did you know that approximately £37 million is spent on meetings of which half are considered not to be worthwhile? Asynchronous working can keep your meetings relevant and dynamic.

Asynchronous working has been shown to have some other amazing benefits among team members. Asynchronous communication can lend itself to big chunks of focus time and help your team work between multiple time zones. Closer to home, it can also contribute to a sense of work/life balance for remote workers and fit in with team members’ personal productivity preferences and personalities. 

With a few changes in operations and communication styles, you can optimise your workforce for asynchronous working and achieve amazing results together.

How can global teams help small businesses?

Having a global team model can transform your business, giving it an edge by broadening your global network and knowledge pool. When you have geographically dispersed team members, you have access to highly skilled specialists and unique insights.

Generally small businesses seek local employees and can often struggle to source top talent within a small radius of their workplace. Utilising global teams can take away that frustration, make your small business more competitive and open you up to a world of amazing opportunities – literally! 

But how can small and medium-sized businesses access global talent without the HR resources of large companies? A Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) is the answer. A PEO is an HR solution that manages payroll, benefits, remuneration, administration, employment taxes, HR guidance and more, in accordance with local government laws. Employment Hero’s PEO can give you access to talent in 50 countries! 

How do you create an effective global team?

1. Organise regular meetings for your whole team

Before we dive into asynchronous working hacks, let’s acknowledge a classic work practise, the tried and tested team meeting. This may be an obvious one, but organising a regular meeting for your team is an absolute must! 

The point of difference for organising meetings for socially distant teams? Meetings should be thought of as essential collaborative opportunities. As your common time available will be limited, use this time wisely to work through a group project or to unpack ideas. To completely utilise these time slots, organise a structure and circulate an agenda so staff can come prepared.

Put a regular meeting in your staff members’ calendars and make sure you stick to it. Make it easy to access, by using Zoom or an equivalent online meeting tool. 

Encourage everyone to turn on their videos so you can see each other, as you would if you were attending an in-person meeting. Research finds that up to 73% of meetings conducted by video finish on time and yield better results. Video meetings also open up virtual cues, which help team members build trust and empathy.

2. Keep in touch with online notifications

As meetings should be reserved for team discussions and collaborating, company news and information (unless sensitive) should be delivered virtually. Whether it is a regular email blast, a shared Slack channel or an online HR platform, be sure to keep your staff regularly updated. 

It’s also a great idea to include personal announcements about your team in these communications. Whether a member of your team is about to get married, someone has completed a marathon or a team member has welcomed a new baby, sharing life milestones can give your team talking points and make them feel more connected.

Find a way to make these announcements stand out, as it can be easy to lose messages with busy work schedules and crowded email inboxes. You’ll get extra brownie points from your staff if you share it on a channel where your staff can easily send reactions and comments without a clunky reply-all email.

Employment Hero makes it easy to keep all staff members across company announcements with the ‘Company Feed’ feature. Employees will be notified whenever you make an announcement on this feature, so you can be sure that all staff will be across the news. Check out more of our Employee Engagement tools.

3. Use task management tools

Task management technology is one of the handiest tools in your arsenal for asynchronous working. Task management systems are cloud-based programs that allow staff members to keep track of their colleagues and their own tasks. 

Using task management can help you organise your team’s work. When you enter a task in these systems, you can assign them to one (or several) employees, set deadlines and elaborate with sub tasks. Most systems have comment sections where your employees can update each other with feedback or notes. 

When you use task management programs, colleagues working on shared projects can pick up where others have left off. This reduces the chance of double-handling tasks and makes working towards deadlines easier.

Examples of task management software include AsanaWrike and monday.com

4. Get your team to personalise their profiles

Conversing with an icon everyday can become a little strange after a while. Your team is made up of unique individuals with different interests and personalities – encourage them to share it! 

On the platforms you use regularly, like email and instant messaging, make sure each staff member has uploaded a photo of themselves. If there’s a spot to write a bio, ask them to write a few lines about themselves. Encouraging team members to customise their profiles not only shows them that you’re interested in them on a personal level, but also makes them more approachable to other staff for informal interactions.

5. Be conscious of time zones

Time zones can make global working tricky, but confusion can be avoided with a little forward planning. 

Don’t try to organise meetings ad-hoc, ensure you find a time that works for all zones for regular catch ups. If timings are really difficult to match, like Sydney to London, alternate your meeting times week-on-week, so that the same team isn’t continually inconvenienced. 

Technology is your best friend here. Live by your calendar and don’t expect meetings to happen in a spontaneous fashion. Share web-based time converting tools with your team like World Time Buddy – which allow you to load your favourite time zones and easily match times in the future. 

6. Talk like a Global Team

If your business was established before your global team was introduced, or still has an HQ in a particular city, it might be tempting to talk about your company as if it’s ‘based’ only in one location. 

This can be alienating to your distanced team. When meeting with your team, don’t push small talk about local weather or any social events near your HQ location. Be conscious of your language in meetings and over email – try to avoid using a lot of cultural slang. Although it can have it’s novelty, don’t make a habit of adopting local language often.

When you’re organising team celebrations, ensure you include your team members around the world. Whether that’s by organising gifting to be delivered to your employee in their home country, or by organising a virtual event for a suitable time – your staff will appreciate the effort!

7. Be mindful of the news in your employees countries and remember cultural events

It can be difficult to focus on work when something significant is happening in your country. Your people may be at a distance from you, but each will need support if major weather, social or political events are affecting their day-to-day.

Keep your eyes on the news in your employees’ countries, and consider creating a news dashboard or following world news websites to stay aware of events. If you have the knowledge and understanding of the situations your employees are encountering, it will make them a lot more likely to seek support. Be an empathetic leader, take the time to listen when an employee reaches out, and follow up with personal interest. 

Being an international employer is also a great opportunity to build your knowledge about cultural events around the world. Join your staff in celebrating their national holidays and be conscious that some staff may need time off to participate in religious events. A great way to keep on top of this is to create a shared multicultural events calendar, where employees can make a note of incoming holidays and leaders can be across them well in advance.

Embrace becoming a global small business!

In short – managing a global team may sound intimidating if you’re a small or medium-sized business owner, but the benefits infinitely outweigh the challenges. By using these tips, you can harness the power of global teams that work, and join the multitude of businesses that are thriving with staff worldwide. 

Engaged Employees are Vital in Helping to Build and Maintain Successful Customer Relationships in Competitive Industries

By Lindsay Lucas, Managing Director at Software Solved 

The relationship between employee engagement and customer satisfaction has been well established across a variety of sectors, with the link between the two twice as strong when employee satisfaction is particularly high. This connection is especially important where customers rely heavily on customer service personnel to help them through emotionally charged experiences. 

Making sure that employees stay engaged is a critical ingredient for building and maintaining successful customer relationships in competitive industries. In turn, customers who are more satisfied, tend to stay with providers for longer, are more likely to purchase additional services and provide more referral business. 

 

Although many companies have rightly focused their efforts on customer experience over the past two or three years this cannot be at the expense of employee engagement. You simply cannot have one without the other. 

 

Pre-pandemic, many companies had been slow to adapt to new ways of working, due to the fact that there either wasn’t the urgency to do it or it wasn’t at the top of their to do list. However, the ‘new reality’ is that keeping hold of the best talent is critical. Not only does it save money on recruitment but in a world where working from home is commonplace, employees are no longer restricted by geography in their choice of employer 

 

Innovative tech can help retain talent 

 

Using innovative tech will help retain the best talent as it allows employees to reach their full potential without being hampered by outdated processes or legacy systems. Many of the challenges facing companies today require a unique set of skills and expertise that are in high demand. For companies to be able to offer an exceptional employee experience which in turn feeds into an exceptional customer experience, they need to first ensure that they have a data governance ERP solution in place.  

 

In a competitive market where consumers don’t differentiate between companies when it comes to good service if, they have a good experience in one sector, they will expect this to be carried over into multiple sectors. Therefore, understanding how your employees’ access and interact with data as well as where it is held is critical to unblocking their ability to provide good CX. Failure to link systems and truly understand your network of data will leave your employees on the back foot.  

 

According to a report by Gartner “ERP implementation and ongoing operation are complex, risky and expensive — and are often disrupted by data management challenges. To deliver on time and ensure sustainable quality, CIOs in midsize enterprises must proactively address data quality and governance.” 

 

Coupled with this, the pandemic has meant that companies have had to move more quickly than ever before in order to support customers and continue trading. Quick fixes that worked in the short-term may not be viable long-term, making it crucial that companies take steps now to ensure their survival.  

 

Furthermore, Gartner has also stated that “legacy ERP deployments do not support the agility required in today’s digital business climate, nor do they support the expected business outcomes. About 20% to 25% of ERP initiatives are considered failures, and an estimated 55% to 60% are compromised in some way by the organisations undertaking them.” 

 

Want to drive and sustain growth? Understanding data is key

 

Understanding data is key to drive and sustain growth, introduce competitive threats, monetisation and helping to avoid allocating resources to projects ineffectively. The ability of companies to deliver data-driven brand experiences at all stages of the customer lifecycle is something that companies need to strive for.  

Also, many IT vendors seemingly offer the same thing and customers can sometimes get caught-up in tech buzzwords rather than the service they require and actually receive. Therefore, a key differentiator here is for IT vendors to use honest, plain talking language to their end-users rather than hyped promises. 

Customers can have a tricky time identifying the best vendor to use. IT providers can help with this by making sure they continually look at and refresh their messaging in line with current events to help customers navigate this minefield and translate what they want into what they need. 

IT providers can remove the hesitancy around choosing a supplier, by understanding the impact of projects that run over in time and budget. Being realistic from the start ensures that budgets and timeframes are achievable, reliable and can be used to accurately plan testing and roll out schedules. 

 

Releasing additional value from data can help companies to differentiate 


Third-party software providers can look at the level of support that is required to help companies access better value from the data they hold to allow employees to do their jobs effectively and provide exceptional CX. Data plays a critical role in driving CX excellence and successfully connecting data and intelligence is often the difference between success and failure.

Companies that are successful in differentiating on the customer experience they offer have mastered automation, connected processes across marketing, sales and service and successfully unified customer intelligence across all touch points. With their customer in the middle, these brands measure success in terms of customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction and revenue growth. 

5 Tips For Starting An E-commerce Business In Lockdown

Interest in setting up an online business in the UK is up by 555% compared to last year, as the country continues to navigate through this financial crisis.

Data analysing increased searches for starting your own business shows a boost in demand for the likes of “how to start business”, “create a website” and “start business online” during lockdown:

Term

Rise from Jan 2020 to Jan 2021

Set up online business

555%

How to start a business

138%

Start business online

96%

Create a website

63%

Start online business

19%


To help entrepreneurs navigate starting their own ecommerce business in 2021 amongst the high competition they will be facing, Andy Bojko, Director at Hidepark Leather, has set out 5 key steps to follow:

1. Register your domain name and business as quickly as possible

After deciding to set up a business, one of the first steps business owners should take is to register their business and domain name. When picking a domain name, it can be wise to select a name that gives customers at least a vague idea of what the firm sells or what market it operates in. Business owners can conduct a quick corporate name search to ensure the name they select is not already in use.

The next step is to pick an eCommerce platform, the operating system which will allow for the business to operate as a functional eCommerce store. The most popular general purpose eCommerce platforms are Shopify or WooCommerce, where businesses can sell their digital products or shippable goods. Using an eCommerce platform means business owners can set up their online store in lockdown with just a few easy steps, with the opportunity to customise the look of the website to a theme that best suits their brand.

2. Analyse the competition to gain an advantage

Competition does not have to always be a bad thing when looking to create a new ecommerce business. Whilst competition can make it challenging to break into the industry, it also validates the market and demonstrates a demand by consumers for the product/service. This gives business owners a chance to assess whether their business idea is viable both during lockdown and in the years to come.

New businesses should take the time to analyse their competition and the market to identify any practices worth investing in and assess who exactly their customer base is. By using tools such as SEMrush, businesses can assess which pages perform best from their competitors, who their audience demographic is and which of their products is top-selling. This, in turn, is an advantage since it can feed into the strategy and help to set the business apart.

3. Invest heavily in marketing during lockdown

Without having a physical store for customers to see or walk by, ecommerce businesses must invest budget into marketing their site to stand out from competitors during lockdown. When starting a new business, social media marketing is one of the most common methods selected to build brand awareness, develop customer loyalty and promote products for sale. Using Facebook, ecommerce businesses can advertise their products with ads based on consumer demographics and other factors, meaning their target audience can be reached despite the lockdown.

Email marketing is still an incredibly popular method of promotion for ecommerce businesses, with this channel giving the business owner direct access to the consumer. To gain access to the email details of consumers, business owners should consider conducting a giveaway within their first few months of operating. By stipulating that in order to participate, individuals must give their email address, this will not only increase the brands presence but also allow access to an email list which can be used for future marketing efforts.

4. Set up an integrated payment gateway and check out the progress

Before businesses begin fully operating they need to set up their store for accepting payments from customers. The most efficient way to accept payments is through an integrated payment setup, where customers can enter their payment information without needing to leave the website. This can help to reduce card abandonment, a common issue for ecommerce platforms in general. 

Businesses need to create a return and privacy policy before they begin operating too, with a detailed explanation of both for the website so customers can view this. A detailed returns policy will avoid customer complaints which can otherwise filter onto social media and impact the overall reputation of the business. The returns policy should be easily accessible to customers, with links to the policy placed throughout the website to avoid customers missing this and becoming increasingly frustrated.

5. Focus on customer relationship management

Where in a physical store customers have the ability to ask employees for help in person, online shops do not facilitate this option. Instead, customers can use email or phone calls to reach a contact person, but this can become time-consuming for staff as the number of enquiries increases as the business grows. Instead, businesses should consider integrating a chatbot service to their website.

During lockdown, a simple customer journey has never been so crucial since consumers are quick to abandon their carts if they experience issues. A live chat service allows customers to connect with support in real-time, but also means agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously and route them to the right team for faster support. Live chat options can aid in minimising cart abandonment since customers can have their enquiry answered far quicker than with an email or phone call.

Sunak’s Give-and-Take Budget Won’t Rescue Retail or Bail Out Business, Fears ParcelHero

Chancellor Sunak’s promised £65bn spend, at the expense of a new 25% corporation tax, is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s not enough to save many SME retailers and manufacturers, cautions the home delivery expert ParcelHero

The unprecedented national debt created by the impact of the Covid pandemic means Chancellor Rishi Sunak could not produce the Budget to save many struggling SME businesses, fears the e-commerce expert ParcelHero.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says that record £270bn borrowing needed to pay for the impact of Covid-19 has shackled the Chancellor’s hands. The £65bn additional spend revealed in the Budget is balanced by a new 25% corporate tax rate and won’t be enough to save many smaller businesses.

It was all-too obvious that, despite the £65bn the Chancellor claims to be spending, there was not enough cash to splash to save many businesses. Today’s Budget was a start, but much more needs to be done now to save independent local retailers and small manufacturers struggling with the double jeopardy of Brexit and Covid. High Street restaurants and pubs are now drinking in the last-chance saloon bar.

Looking at the measures Sunak has introduced, there are undoubtedly some strong initiatives, such as the extension of the furlough scheme to September that could save thousands of jobs. On the other hand, there will be new employer contributions to the scheme. In addition, the rapid phasing-out of full business rates relief will be grim news for many retailers.

 

Tax attack

The rise in corporation tax, from its current level of 19% to a higher-than-expected 25% from April 2023 will help plug the hole in the nation’s finances. However, is now really the time to start rebuilding the UK’s coffers at the expense of business? No matter how delayed, manufacturers and retailers are already struggling under the burden of Covid.

The new rate won’t apply to businesses with profits of less than £50k and only businesses with profits of over £250,000 will pay the full tax. Nonetheless, the Government has, on the one hand, introduced measures to help businesses but, on the other hand, raised their tax burden. It’s simply robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The increased corporation tax will also do nothing to encourage European companies looking to create UK arms to maintain a relationship with Britain post-Brexit.

 

X-rated business rates

The extension of the “holiday” on business rates for retailers and other SME businesses until the end of June has been widely welcomed, though less generous discounted rates for the rest of the year are disappointing. The holiday also simply kicks into touch the real issue: Britain’s business rates are horrific. They are higher than in any nation in the EU. There needs to be a new solution, potentially one in which the property landlord, rather than the business occupying the premises, pays towards rates.

Offsetting business rates with a threatened new 2% tax on e-commerce sales will simply leave many retailers paying double taxes and will further endanger many of our favourite stores.

 

Higher High Street grants

The £5bn restart scheme for High Street shops and hospitality firms in England is welcome news. It could be worth as much as £18,000 per firm, which will help many to reopen after lockdown. However, the impact of Covid means unpaid business debt will double to more than £8.6bn this year, according to figures released today by The Insolvency Service. The new scheme won’t come anywhere near covering the true price of the pandemic on indie retailers.

The news that non-essential retailers will only qualify for grants of up to £6,000 will also disappoint many business owners.

 

Help to grow may wither on the vine

The new Help to Grow scheme for small businesses is a good idea but may wither on the vine because of insufficient funding. Digital training for small businesses is an excellent concept. However, a reported budget of £520 million is a drop in the ocean compared to the sea of debt many fledgling businesses have accumulated during lockdown.

 

Furlough postpones the inevitable

Many jobs will be saved by the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of September, but the fear is that it is just postponing the inevitable for many more. Once the scheme ends, SME retailers and manufacturers will have to make the difficult choice about how many people they can retain while they fight to get back on track. It may simply push a new wave of redundancies back to later in the year.

‘The news that businesses will have to contribute 10% of employees’ salaries in July and 20% in August and September is an unexpected extra cost.

 

Taxing problems

The Chancellor has nibbled around the edges of the huge tax burden facing businesses, large and small. The news that the reduced 5% rate of VAT for the hospitality sector will now continue until September is, of course, welcome. The following interim rate of 12.5% less so. Many manufacturers and retailers had hoped that Brexit would free the UK to set its own VAT rates and the Chancellor would grab the chance to reduce VAT on many goods to encourage consumer spending.

 

Any freeport in a storm

ParcelHero supports the concept of freeports as a way of reducing the red tape and delays at UK borders and encouraging local logistics businesses and services. In the eight new freeport areas announced, no duties will be charged on goods or materials until they leave the zone and none if they are then re-exported. That could mean virtual tariff-free manufacturing and exporting for companies established within the secure customs zones. 

The new ports will be sited in East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

‘That’s great news, but only really serves to undo the self-imposed damage created by Brexit. Before we left the EU, there were no tariffs to pay on materials arriving from Europe and no need to create an exempt area.’

While there was also the promise of new spending on ports infrastructure, “underwater hubs” and rail centres, ultimately, this was a Budget that was big on ideas but strapped for cash. The pressures on spending meant there was simply not enough cash behind it to save many of the UK’s SME manufacturers and much-loved smaller retailers, restaurants and pubs.

EU Business News Announce the Winners of the 2020 EU Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – EU Business News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 European Enterprise Awards.

Now in its third year, this programme has continued to highlight and recognise those that are thriving across the region. However, it would be an understatement to say that this last year has been a challenging one. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for immense change, with little in the way of certainty and familiarity to aid in the business world’s colossal transformation. In many ways, the smallest of achievements became immensely magnified in light of the environment they occurred in. Ultimately, all successes – no matter how small they might otherwise be – were extraordinary accomplishments. It is with this firmly in mind that we launched the 2020 programme.

Speaking about winners of the programme, Awards Coordinator Steve Simpson commented: “Congratulations to all the winners of the EU Enterprise Awards. It is with great pride that I showcase the best of the best from across the entirety of the EU. I hope you all have a wonderful 2021 ahead.”

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

The Post-Brexit Logistical Issues Causing a Chain Reaction in the Construction Industry and What the Future Looks Like

The UK construction industry has found itself in somewhat of a mess since the completion of the last-minute Brexit deal last year.

Many of you will remember the stories of shipping issues that were faced prior to Christmas, with ports clogged up and stock sat in the back of transit vans and warehouses for weeks on end. That has led to businesses and suppliers being short on products and supplies and, ultimately, bearing a great deal of consumer frustration. 

January felt like a perfect storm, a combination of sky-high demand in an industry that was unable to prepare properly due to a lack of clear guidance. Both of which resulted in logistical chaos.

This is just the start for the construction sector and while there’s no doubt this situation will straighten itself out, the next step is how businesses can get ahead of the game in the meantime?

To answer this and outline all of the issues the industry is facing in this logistical issues, we will need two voices – that of Tony Lambert, Senior Buyer at Protrade, the East Midlands’ number one supplier of trade tools and construction consumables, whose voice takes over this content, and a consumer, James Lescott, the founder of JL Interior Fits, who gives his opinion further down the article.

‘Intensive’ and confusing paperwork is having a huge impact on the wider supply chain

Let’s start by painting a clear picture of what is happening across the sector right now.

It’s December. A business or supplier operating within the construction sector is getting its house in order in time for Christmas and ensuring it has got enough stock in place to comfortably see it into the New Year and beyond. 

It reaches out to a European supplier and places an order for a particular product. The transaction gets completed, that’s that. Done. Nothing to worry about. Except there is.

From leaving the European supplier, the product heads to the port. It’s turned away and goes back to the supplier. It returns to the port again and remains sat there until further paperwork is completed.

That’s become the norm over the last three months.

Since Brexit, no-one has been entirely sure of what paperwork is required and needs to be completed. Even products and stock which has been arriving in the UK have been left sitting in warehouses awaiting customs clearance and this has had a huge impact on the wider chain.

Likewise, UK-to-UK logistics has become an issue as one supplier, or another, faces the same product shortages. That intensive paperwork, though, is creating an entirely different issue altogether.

Suppliers are refusing to ship to the UK

Filling out that necessary paperwork has become a job in itself and has led to some European suppliers taking the view that it is actually no longer worth the hassle, nor the cost, to ship its products over to the UK.

It’s just as complicated with freight and carriage transport. 

For context, prior to Brexit, the supplier took care of all those costs and that has now flipped on its head and businesses are being required to pay the charge and claim a percentage of it back from the government. 

And when you combine the above with the intense amount of paperwork that is required to be completed, it leaves a huge log-jam at the ports and lengthy hold-ups.

Like a ripple effect, that is raising a fresh problem over here in the UK.

There is a heightened demand and prices are starting to creep up

While businesses and suppliers are suffering logistically, we’re also starting to see that consumers are starting to be penalised by this. 

Last year, as holidays and vacations were cancelled, people across the UK, instead, turned their attention to home DIY and renovation projects. The demand went through the roof – excuse the pun – and that boom has followed us into 2021. 

Without naming businesses, one UK supplier had six months’ worth of stock at the end of October in anticipation of the Brexit decision and ensuring they were covered no matter the outcome. 

By the end of January, that supplier had no stock left. Like that business, no-one has been able to get ahead of the game. 

As quickly as it is coming in, it is gone again. Businesses can’t get products through the door quickly enough to satisfy the demand. And if you are one of those fortunate businesses that have got the stock that others can’t get their hands on, it is the customer that is potentially paying more due to supply shortages.  

Just as with Europe, prices for products and supply are creeping up in the Far East.

The view from a customer: job delays and a need for long-term investing

James Lescott is a joiner and his business, JL Interior Fits, is a specialist in high-end bathroom and kitchen installations based in Shropshire. He set up his business just a couple of years ago and has been heavily impacted not only by COVID-19, but Brexit. This is what he had to say about the current logistic issues…

“It’s very frustrating. As a customer, it has meant that jobs have had to be delayed. I try and get my stock in up to eight weeks in advance of starting a job, but due to the issues that have been faced so far this year, that stock isn’t arriving on time. 

“That’s slowed work right down since Christmas. However, what that has allowed me to do is plan for the future and I have invested approximately £70,000 in machinery over the last five months that will allow me to get back on track. 

“I’ve completely transformed the way I work, otherwise I don’t think I would have survived. The only way businesses, like mine, can really get through this period is by adapting.

“I think a lot of that is happening across the industry and more businesses are investing in the manufacturing process which will allow them to avoid situations like this in the future and stay ahead of the game. 

“As strange as it is to say, what is happening with the supplying and shipping issues right now could prove to be a silver lining for the future of the industry.”

How can construction get ahead of the game?

As obvious as it sounds, the only thing businesses can do right now is to get ahead of the game and continue trying to get stock through the door, and on the shelves. 

With that, businesses will need to be considerate about storage space. I’m sure there are many companies out there, like Protrade, that at the end of January were in a position where that backlog of stock has finally started to arrive. 

We had 38 pallets from one supplier and another 28 later in the week. No business, in this industry, has infinite space, and, eventually, we could well see that businesses face a logistical problem because the arrival of stock has been impossible to calculate. 

Ordinarily, we would hold six weeks’ worth, but due to the issues, many organisations will be carrying anything between eight and 12 weeks’ worth of stock to try and get over this supply issue. 

Every business is in the same boat and it feels, very much, that it is the one that shouts the loudest is getting the stock. 

All businesses can really do right now is try and increase their stock holdings until this situation finds a new equilibrium.

The Student Model – The Business Model Solution of The Future

COVID-19 has played a huge role in changing the way businesses, and individuals, operate across the globe, with many company owners opting to permanently walk away from their city center offices in favour of home working, and employees taking time off work due to furlough schemes.

Additionally, in order to save money, several businesses have also had to put a ‘pause’ on recruitment and growth plans due to an uncertain economic climate brought about by the pandemic.

However, there’s a new trend on the rise that’s allowing companies to increase their productivity without taking on the additional costs of new team members: student freelancers.

Business Electricity Prices have taken a deeper look into the accelerated growth of the freelancers market, and how students could be the solution, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How businesses can benefit from freelance resource

Some industries, particularly those impacted more significantly by the pandemic, have sadly needed to reduce their overall spend in order to give them the best chance of staying afloat. This has led to many businesses having to make staff members redundant, and putting a pause on recruitment. Whilst this may seem counter-productive to do so, it has led to a rise in demand for freelancers.

Although the use of freelancers has been steadily increasing for many years, it has seen short, accelerated periods of growth throughout 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Freelancers offer lots of benefits to businesses with ambitious growth aspirations and can be the best solution for dealing with short bursts of seasonality to a business’ operation.

In fact, recent Forbes research found that 90% of companies actually depend on freelancers to augment their professional workforce.

A new surge of student freelancers

Freelancers are fantastic for bridging the gap between large workloads and a lack of staff, but it’s important to remember that if you’re planning to rely on them for a significant number of projects, they can become quite expensive. Not to worry though, as there’s a new ‘pool’ of freelancers taking businesses by storm: students.

Due to the ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) pandemic, thousands of students have been left without their usual part time jobs, and many are also attending significantly fewer lectures. This means they have significantly more time on their hands to take on freelance roles, whilst working towards their degrees, and a need to pay their bills.

Hiring a freelancer student is a win for all parties. Businesses are able to become more productive on short-term projects without paying salaries, recruitment fees, or high freelancer rates, and students are gaining valuable experience before they enter the world of full-time employment. This, in turn, is putting an end to the vicious cycle many students face after university of ‘no-experience-equals-no-job-but-no-job-equals-no-experience’.

Even though there are currently no dedicated student freelancer sites, Save The Student strongly recommends using Upwork to source student freelancers as you’ll likely find some talented students offering their services at great business-friendly prices.

Will hiring a student freelancer work for my business?

Businesses may be skeptical at the quality of work coming from an inexperienced student. But it’s important to remember that students regularly produce highly academic essays and assignments to an incredible standard, while many creatives begin university with a strong portfolio. Not only that, but they’re also hungry for experience within their chosen field, don’t charge high-end freelancer fees, and will often work at a moment’s notice on any fast-turnaround projects.

From a business’ point of view, working with a student freelancer is a very low risk, high reward situation. Taking on freelancers is a great way to offer additional support to internal teams, and many companies think of them as a productivity tap that they can turn on when large projects or busier periods come along, and turn off when they aren’t required.

What does the freelancer market look like?

Large parts of business support functions can utilise freelancers. The rapid advancement and growing acceptance of remote working that’s been accelerated by COVID-19, means that companies are much more accepting of and prepared for employees and freelance contributors to work from any location.

Businesses looking for particular skills are the most likely to seek freelancer help to support their internal teams. For example, Money Super Market found that the most popular sectors for freelancing are Business support (22%), Design (20%) and Writing and Translation (17%).

Furthermore, it is students and graduates that are predominantly driving the growth of the freelancer market, with 87% of the UK’s top-performing graduates seeing freelancing as a highly attractive career option according to Econsultancy.

Pit-falls to Avoid

Taking a chance on a student freelancer, may mean a smaller body of work to examine. If you’ve chosen to use a student for their availability, be sure to vet their skills properly first. A good way of doing this, is to provide a paid piece of work as a test of their talent, which will help you decide on whether to use them for future projects.

As you may remember from your uni days, assignments are not like normal work. It can be a challenge to know how long it will take until you’re in the throws of writing. As a business, it is therefore important to thoroughly discuss availability with your student freelancer if you’re looking to hire them for a prolonged period and leave ample time each side of any assignments they may have to ensure your time-line remains on-track.

Students are expected to have a lot of experience before applying for any job these days, so nurturing talent is a big win for their future job prospects, for the economy and potentially for your own business as their skills develop.

Just try to be understanding that they may not have performed a task before. Taking the time to be patient and teach a talented individual how to perform a task will not only aid in their development, but hand you an employee eager to work for you so that they can continue their personal growth. This could result in the individual picking your project over another in the future and a loyal talented freelancer is nothing to be sniffed at.

The future of business and its relationship with freelancers

Although freelancers are independent in nature, making the most of the added resource means answering their questions, handling any issues that arise, providing them with all the information they need to fulfil their role, and monitoring their work. These are all things that need to be taken into consideration when opting to onboard freelancers, both students and long-standing professionals.

Quite often, leaders and managers will empower their teams to manage freelancer work and use them as and when needed to increase department output.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2018 saw a 31% annual surge of freelancers in the UK according to Simply Business. The trend has only been accelerated further with increased redundancy during the pandemic and a much more positive attitude towards remote working by business leaders.

There’s a solid and growing place for student freelancers in modern business, especially during times of higher economic uncertainty, and this seems to be going hand in hand with today’s desirable flexible working.

More Efficiency for UK Transport as Mandata Grows Into Freight Exchange

In June last year, Mandata Group acquired Returnloads.net the UK’s leading freight exchange provider helping manufacturers, shippers, and distributors find new transport suppliers, as well as enabling transport operators to expand their networks and find new work.
 
Mandata Group provides Transport Management Software (TMS) solutions to road transport operators helping them control their transport operations more effectively and increase productivity.
 
The acquisition brings something totally new to the road transport sector giving operators the ability to expand their networks to find new customers and suppliers using Returnloads.net and then to execute that work more efficiently using Mandata TMS.   
 
Steve Spark, CRO of Mandata Group explains that collaboration is a key theme for the road transport sector today and the combination offers exciting opportunities moving forward.   “Our customers have told us that they need to be able to work more effectively with their customers and subcontractors.  They need help to win new work and to expand their own supply chains to get work done when they do not have capacity in their own fleet” adds Steve.
 
“Returnloads.net gives us a fantastic platform from where we can build out our collaboration proposition.   We have exciting plans to invest further in the platform both as a stand-alone proposition and how we integrate the platform with Mandata Group transport management solutions.”
 
Customers who use Returnloads.net to find new work, can expect to see enhancements to the existing platform that will help them promote their services more effectively by highlighting aspects of their service.  Customers who use the website to find new suppliers will benefit from a much improved search engine allowing them to focus on things that are important to them, such as customer ratings, industry accreditations and memberships, helping them to validate who they work with.
 
Mandata TMS customers who want to find new suppliers will be able to publish loads quickly and easily on Returnloads.net. If they already subscribe to the platform to find new work, then they can easily bring the new work back into TMS to get the job done, while providing real time updates back to their customers through in Returnloads.net.”
 
Chris Wall, Client Services Director at Mandata explains: “The acquisition of Returnloads.net really compliments the work Mandata has done on launching the Subbie Portal earlier this year.”
 
“The Subbie Portal gives Mandata TMS customers the ability to allocate loads to members of their existing supply chain who are not users of Mandata TMS themselves.   Sub-contractors can provide real time job updates, ETA’s and PODs straight back into Mandata TMS, removing the long-standing problem of a lack of visibility on loads once they get handed over to a sub-contractor.”
 
“In developing the Subbie Portal and acquiring Returnloads.net we are giving Mandata customers the ability to find new customers and win more new work if they want to. This means they can work in a more integrated way with their existing supply chain network and expand their network by finding new sub-contractor partners.   We are basically giving our TMS customers the ability to create their own networks,” added Chris.
 
Steve Spark goes on to say “being successful is harder than it has ever been for transport operators right now.   This is the first phase of our plans to help our customers work in a more collaborative and integrated way with their customers and suppliers.  We have some really exciting plans for how we will expand that offer which we will be communicating during 2021.”

New Government Figures Show 35% of UK Importers are Struggling at Borders & Northern Ireland Trade is Collapsing, Says ParcelHero

The latest ONS economy report highlights soaring problems at Customs and a crisis developing in Northern Ireland trade, warns the international delivery expert ParcelHero.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) economy figures show businesses are reporting spiralling Brexit challenges. Doubt has also been cast on the viability of the Northern Ireland protocol, says the international delivery expert ParcelHero. Transport costs, border disruption and customs duties problems soared in the two-week period between 24 January and 7 February.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says the new figures highlight the full impact of Brexit on businesses.

Says David: ‘The ONS report, UK exporters and importers increasingly likely to face challenges, shows a sharp escalation in Brexit problems. They increased markedly in the two weeks from 25 January to 7 February compared to the preceding fortnight, 11-24 January:

Border disruption
  • 35% of businesses experienced importing challenges because of disruption at the UK borders. That’s up dramatically from the 25% of importers reporting challenges in the previous two weeks.
  • Similarly, 25% of exporters recorded disruption at borders, compared to just 19% reporting disruption in the preceding fortnight.
 
Transport costs
  • 34% of businesses experienced exporting challenges because of a rise in transportation costs. That’s up significantly from the 25% experiencing transport cost issues in the previous two-week period.
  • 30% experienced importing challenges because of a change in transport costs. Again, this is up significantly from the previous two weeks’ figure of 28%.
Customs duties
  • 26% of businesses experienced exporting challenges because of customs duties or levies, a big jump from the 16% of exporters reporting issues in the previous two-week period.
  • Likewise, 26% experienced importing challenges because of customs fees in the fortnight between 25 January – 7 February, compared to 16% in the preceding two weeks.

‘Perhaps even more concerning, in terms of both trade and politics, are the escalating problems experienced by those shipping goods to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol is in danger of unraveling entirely if these trends continue.

‘A massive 44% of retailers and wholesalers reported the volume of goods they shipped to Northern Ireland decreased in the latest two-week period, compared to the previous fortnight. 31.5% of manufacturers reported their export volumes to Northern Ireland fell during the latest period. Of all businesses who had sent, or intended to send, goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in the last two weeks, 38% reported sending fewer goods.

‘These problems will only escalate as a waiver on customs declarations on parcels sent from the rest of the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland runs out on 31 March, and certification requirements ramp-up on supermarket goods in April. The Government urgently needs to renegotiate these deadlines with the EU.

‘It’s not as if these issues were unpredictable. As long ago as 2016, our pre-referendum report, “Delivering Brexit: The true cost of leaving the EU”, predicted SMEs would face Brexit costs of around £163k in the first year and a typical rise of 30% on the price of items purchased in the EU that had components originating outside Europe.

The UK’s Housing Association: What It Brings to the Economy

The UK’s housing association is a group of non-profit organisations which build and manage houses for rent. For example, if you reported a radiator not working, they would manage this and send someone out to repair it. Profit generated through renting property is put back into the business to continue developing affordable property.

Housing associations can be focused upon specific demographics, for example, those with disabilities. While housing associations have been previously thought of as an option for those on a lower income, now, there is a growing need for them due to increasing housing prices.  Renting from these organisations is becoming a reasonable option for young people looking to get on the property ladder. Not only are they affordable, but they can also offer many financial schemes to aid purchasing a property for those who might not be accepted on a mortgage application.

COVID-19 and the growing need for affordable housing

While many industries were hit badly by COVID-19, there was a boom in social housing in an attempt to curb long council housing waiting lists. 100,000 new rental homes would not only house those on the growing list but would contribute £14.5 billion to the UK economy. The government’s Affordable Homes Programme is a scheme designed to allocate taxpayer money for affordable housing. Homes England are investing £7.39 billion from April 2021 to develop 130,000 homes outside of London by March 2026.

Sadly, many underprivileged households have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forecasts show that those applying to be on housing waiting lists could increase two-fold to two million households this year due to the negative fallout of a devastating pandemic. Affordable, high-quality housing developments can be targeted to communities in need across the country, helping build both the local and national economy.

Councillor David Renard, Local Government Association spokesperson, said: “With the number of people on council housing waiting lists set to double, it is absolutely vital that we build more housing for social rent. Building 100,000 social homes for rent a year would bring significant social and economic benefits, from tackling our housing crisis and reducing rising levels of homelessness to wiping millions off welfare bills and improving people’s health and wellbeing while alleviating the pressure on health and social care. 

“We are urging the government in the Spending Review to give councils the powers to get building at scale again and deliver a housing programme that can play a central role in the national recovery from coronavirus.”  

Helping stimulate the economy

While families are struggling to enter the private housing market, businesses have had their own challenges, too. The UK Government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year, which would mean huge projects and contracts for construction firms.

Developing social housing will generate value from public money by stimulating the economy through a variety of ways. Housing associations need to externally hire other consultants, for example, architects, engineers, and contractors. This generates additional work for local businesses in the area – each pound spent in housing development will grow the economy by more than a pound. For example, the construction industry has been hit hard by lockdown and social distancing regulations, with reports from the Office for National Statistics reporting that the construction industry had the lowest level of employment since 2013. Housing associations hiring construction are embedded in communities across the UK, which would give local businesses the boost they need.

Additionally, housing associations may also have a branch to sell private housing at normal market prices. The profits then go directly back to affordable housing rather than to shareholders. This helps continue the much-needed cycle of building more affordable housing in the local area.

Making affordable rent available for those who would be housed inadequately if they had to rely on the private sector keeps rent under a certain amount. This prevents tenants from being exploited. It also gives them more financial freedom to spend and stimulate the economy further.

Benefits to the wider economy

Investing in social housing can directly benefit the Treasury. The more money invested to support the development of social housing, the lower the expenditure on housing benefits. This exists at around £25bn. If more people can rent social housing at a lower cost of rent, fewer people are forced to rent in the private sector at a higher cost.

Increased investment in social housing also reduces the housing market’s current volatility by stabilising the UK’s housing market.

Like any industry, social housing will face challenges. However, the industry has the power to help stimulate the economy from a disappointing year.

Building the Case for Construction Offices in 2021

The past year has been difficult for construction workers. Between the first national lockdown and increasing social distancing regulations, construction output has been hit dramatically. In fact, the fall in output was the largest since records began in January 2010. Construction work has been allowed to continue in the following national lockdowns in Scotland and England. However, while some workers are required to be on-site to complete work, such as labourers and site managers, other key roles in construction could work remotely. These roles may include engineers, surveyors, and architects.

But while the end of the pandemic is in sight, remote working capabilities may remain, even after social distancing restrictions are eased. Leaders within the construction industry worry that this will affect the sector’s recovery post-pandemic. After all, construction workers excel through collaboration.

One construction company, Taylor Wimpey, emphasises the importance of staying safe when returning to work, but why onsite work should be a priority when restrictions are further eased. One analyst, William Ryder said: “The risk of a prolonged recession, falling house prices and sales volumes is still heightened, and we know how quickly that combination can demolish profits for housebuilders.”

While Taylor Wimpey reminds us that their “first priority is always the health and safety of our customers, employees, sub-contractors and suppliers.” They, like others in the construction industry, recognise the damage that lockdowns have had on the sector and the economy. Therefore, returning to work when it is safe to do so is essential.

The suitability of remote working in construction

According to one employee experience index, 49 per cent of people working in UK construction and engineering had no experience of working from home before the pandemic. Furthermore, 91 per cent of those who have remote working experience would usually work from home for only one day or less per week.

Add this to the fact that only 32 per cent of home-workers have a dedicated working space at home, the evidence creates a clear determination: the construction industry is not suitable for remote working conditions.

While the construction industry evaded the compulsory closing of non-essential businesses during the second and third national lockdown in England, social distancing regulations and expectations of who can work on-site remain. The guidance prioritises those who cannot work from home. In construction and engineering, this may be limited to labourers and infrequent visits from engineers when on-site reviews must be completed.

However, while working from home has been possible during the pandemic, there is little motivation to maintain this culture. Construction must remain focussed on safety and quality, which can only be achieved through in-person assessment.

Making space a priority

Despite the vaccine rollout, experts agree that social distancing will continue for the majority of 2021. However, as construction workers continue to return to sites, these regulations must be adhered to. As a consequence, additional working space is essential.

While this space can be employed as a temporary measure, container hire is often the first port of call for site managers looking for portable and easy shelter for workers. As an office, the space is versatile, allowing engineers to review plans and make appropriate amendments in the vicinity of the construction work. Office spaces are valuable for collaboration, and with a variety of roles on construction, office space is central in curating innovative decisions which can help improve the quality of work, regulate safety on site, and help reduce costs.

Working from home prevents this collaborative effort. While objectives such as CAD and steel detailing may be compatible with remote working, doing this in isolation prevents co-workers and other departments from contributing to the planning stage.

Recovering the work

There is a consensus among construction workers that normal working circumstances should return as soon as possible to help the sector recover. The Office for National Statistics states that while construction output has achieved a seventh consecutive month of growth and has finally recovered to meet pre-pandemic levels, aspects of the sector such as new work still 3.1 per cent below output in February 2020. This represents £282 million of output in the sector. New public housing construction, which requires efficient processes, is still 22.1 per cent below its pre-pandemic level. There is a clear need for normal work processes to resume.

Continuing into 2021, a clear majority of construction businesses do not intend to maintain remote working capabilities. According to the ONS, only 5.5 per cent of construction businesses want a permanent increase of home working, as opposed to 83.5 who do not want remote working to increase after the pandemic. 11 per cent of businesses were not sure.

While the construction sector makes it clear that remote working should be avoided in the future, only one in five businesses show any real desire to increase these capabilities. Business leaders have proved that attending the workplace is best for productivity and output.

While all industries have taken a hit during the past year, confidence in construction is at risk of not returning to its full potential unless appropriate action is taken. Resuming normal working conditions is essential and doing this while adhering to social distancing and health guidelines is important. Accommodating as many workers back into construction sites and offices may be the saving factor for the sector.

EU Business News Q1 2021

Welcome to the Q1 edition of EU Business News Magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to providing you with all of the latest news, features and insightful pieces from across the European Union.

Over the last few years, the conversation surrounding climate change has increased with both younger and older generations coming together to find ways to be more sustainable in their day to day lives. Within the pages of EU Business News’ first issue for 2021, we have found a number of businesses who are also playing their part in the fight to create a greener future.

From a German company developing sustainable solutions for water to meet diverse customer needs, to a manufacturer of sustainable LED lighting promoting a switch to environmentally friendly and economical lighting technologies– this issue celebrates the accomplishments of those who are contributing to the fight against climate change.

For now, we hope that you enjoy reading this insightful issue of EU Business News and look forward to hearing from you soon.

International Employers Urged to Act to Ensure Employees are Fully Covered for Healthcare Post-Brexit

Towergate Health & Protection is urging employers to act now to ensure employees are fully covered for healthcare now Britain has left the EU. 

Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection, explains: “In-country expertise is now essential for any international employer with staff in Europe. If employers do not have this capability within their company, then it is vital to gain access to specialist advice and information, particularly regarding something as important as health and wellbeing.”

Brexit challenges

Among the challenges of Brexit is the importance of international employers complying with the differing mandatory requirements for benefits and healthcare across up to 30 different countries.

While Britain was part of the EU, certain globally mobile employees were covered under local policies but, since Brexit, employers now need to look at each country individually to understand their specific requirements.

For example, in Germany critical illness cover, income protection, and life assurance are all covered within private medical insurance (PMI). But for employees in other countries, employers would have to purchase these elements of cover separately, to ensure employees are fully protected.

Passports between the EU and the UK have now ended, as has the transition period. This means that for those based outside of the EU, which now includes those in the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) countries must now each be treated as individual countries. To make matters more challenging, there are 30 different countries in the EEA, and 27 in the European Union (EU).

Expert requirements

Employers of international staff cannot be experts in the benefits and healthcare policies available in every single country, but some of the requirements are mandatory and companies must comply. It is also important for companies to be able to benchmark, not only against other companies, but against other countries now too, and expert assistance is often required.  

In-country expertise and local knowledge of each different country can be a great support for companies with employees throughout Europe. Not every employer will have an expert on-the-ground in every country of the EU, and beyond, so it’s important they work with specialist advisers who can provide this access. 

Access to local insurers, independent advisers and specialists in specific areas of health and wellbeing can help ensure employers comply with local stipulations, and that employees have the support they need. It also means that health and wellbeing programmes can be fully customised, not only by company and employee, but also by the country or countries in which they may be working. 

Being able to access local healthcare for globally mobilised employees means that everyone can be fully covered to meet the exact requirements of the host nation. 

Sarah Dennis concludes: “Even the ability to provide local healthcare cover using the native language is a huge advantage to employers. If a member of staff becomes ill while working abroad, as an employer, you want to know that they will be fully covered and will get all the assistance and care that they need. Sadly, people all too often do not consider the full repercussions until they are in the situation of needing support for their health and wellbeing such as medical assistance. Therefore, we are urging employers to act now to ensure all international employees are fully covered.”

Handshake Calls on Industry to Shake Up Graduate Recruitment Market and Close Digital Divide

Urgent changes are needed in the graduate recruitment sector in order to boost social mobility and close the pervasive digital divide.

That’s according to a new report launched today from Handshake, the early career network and career management platform. The Bringing Humanity Back to Graduate Recruitment report shows how outdated legacy careers technologies at universities are, creating obstacles to diversify graduate recruitment pipelines and exacerbating existing digital divides.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means those entering the jobs market are being let down by virtual technologies that often miss the point of the experiences they seek to recreate – creating authentic connection. The report finds that as a result, students are struggling to create the connections they need to navigate these economically turbulent times. 

With reduced connections brokered by their university, “Digitally disadvantaged” students from working class backgrounds, and without the digital professional networks of the family and friends, are more likely to be left behind. This further decreases their chances of quality employment in 2021 and places a handbrake on social mobility. While digital networks and virtual recruitment practices are currently necessary, mobile-first solutions were found to be key for this group, as while laptop access may be limited, 98% in the 16-24 age group own a smartphone. Yet, many university careers service offerings aren’t mobile-optimised. 

Instead of targeted provision, the abrupt shift to digital recruitment has meant increased reliance on traditional professional networking sites that don’t cater to the needs of new entrants to the jobs market. As a result, recent graduates have ended up disconnected from established career networks. As of October 2020, six in ten (59.9%) of LinkedIn users worldwide fell within the 25-34 bracket, in comparison to only 20.3% of users within the 18-24 bracket. 

Digital exclusion has also hit employers, with smaller businesses lacking access to tools such as applicant tracking systems, email marketing tools and video conferencing licenses. This is despite SMEs playing a key role in economic recovery, making up 34% of all open roles and 48% of all job postings in 2020.

University careers services in 2021 face immense challenges, and the report recommends an urgent review of existing university systems, which in failing to evolve, have created barriers to students and employers connection.

The facilitation of peer to peer connections and improved access for digitally disadvantaged students all need to be taken into consideration when helping graduates build their career prospects. 

The changing role of careers fairs could prove to be a key component here. In-person careers fairs have almost entirely been replaced in the past year, and were heavily bound by geographical and budget constraints prior to that. What now constitutes the lasting role of a virtual fair needs to be established, moving well beyond the inadequate PDF and webinar that has been a mainstay since the pandemic, to a model that uses insight on the students and employers attending to create meaningful connections.

David Shull, UK Country Founder & Head of Operations from Handshake, comments: “The current uncertain economic climate means that professional connections and career support are more important than ever for students and graduates. The key to tackling social injustice and levelling the playing field is improving social capital, or in other words, helping young people from all backgrounds forge meaningful connections, almost certainly driven by tech they can easily access and use.

“While the list of issues presented by the pandemic is a long one, it really should be a priority for the early careers sector to engage head on with the obstacles being faced by recent graduates and students about to enter the jobs market. The scale of these challenges mean technology must be a cornerstone of the university response. The outcome otherwise will be a further increase in the divide between social groups and more young people left behind.” 

To access the full Bringing Humanity Back to Graduate Recruitment report and sign up for a webinar with the latest insights, updates, and best practices, visit the Handshake website.

Post Brexit Britain – International Marketing Laws That Could Be Introduced

For many of us, we thought it would never happen. For those that weren’t in this camp, chances are they were amongst those who simply put it to the back of their mind and forgot about it – yes, we’re talking about Brexit.

From sandwich confiscations to deliveries being halted at the border, the impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU is really beginning to be felt. In the marketing world, however, the continued rhetoric over the past number of years has been “business as usual”. Is this true, however?

The UK isn’t like any other country, in more ways than one. But how do their marketing laws differ? In order to find out, print specialists Where The Trade Buys travel north, east, and west, delving into various marketing legislation, in a bid to give some indication of what the UK might have in store in the coming months and years.

United States

The United States’ healthcare system is regularly at the forefront of the national media thanks to a lack of affordability. However, in the early ‘90s, a spate of infections and deaths at the fault of misleading hemophilic medication advertising brought about the introduction of strict laws. For companies in the US who are marketing healthcare products, a host of rules exist, to which, if they do not comply, they face significant penalisation.

Sweden

Head north to Sweden and it should come as no surprise that advertising techniques are carefully developed to link with programming schedules. They tug on the attention of the viewer, encouraging them to reach for their debit card and part with their hard-earned cash. Consider a holiday advert magically appearing during the interlude of Love Island, or Dominos and lager pop ups during half-time of the football — no, this wasn’t by chance.

Did you know that Sweden, as recently as the 90s, only had terrestrial state-owned television channels, which did not feature advertising? But as of 1991, the country began to see the harsh effects of this type of commercial programming.

 A Yale University study showed that children ate more unhealthy foods while watching cartoons with junk food adverts. Desperate to protect their younger generation, the Swedish government passed legislation which banned advertising directed at children under the age of 12. A decade after introducing the legislation, Sweden presented their findings to the European Union. The results linked a decrease in obesity within children directly to the ban on advertising. Sweden proposed that it be rolled out across the board — however, it was not picked up.

France

Marketing and alcohol have always had a rather ‘difficult’ relationship, shall we say. During the 1994–1995 Premier League football season, six of the 20 clubs all had alcohol brands as their major shirt sponsorship. Not one club has maintained the tradition, understanding the conflicting impacts presented. Everton being the last club to say bon voyage to their sponsor, Thai golden brew, Chang. France banned all alcohol advertisements on television and in cinemas. During any occasion in which alcohol advertisements are deemed appropriate, it must be accompanied by a warning regarding the dangers of consumption.

United Kingdom

And of course, here in Blighty. Back in 2007, England banned smoking indoors as the government tempted to quash mass respiratory problems and lung cancer. Back in 1965, the decision was made to limit the advertising of cigarettes on television. However, it wasn’t until forty years later, in 2005, that legislation was passed which completely eliminated tobacco advertising.

Philip Morris Inc., despite still backing F1 Ferrari, who own popular cigarette brand Marlboro, have not featured on a car since the 2007 season due to international advertising laws regarding tobacco.

After extensive debate between industry leaders, health campaigners, and politicians, legislation was finally laid down in January 2016 which banned branded cigarette boxes that were manufactured after May 2016 or sold after January 2017.

Marketing around the globe is difficult and varies considerably. However, what can we expect to see in marketed in a post-Brexit Britain?

The Online Delivery Experience: Consumers Have Their Say

According to statistics, the UK has the most advanced e-commerce market in Europe. Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that revenue from e-commerce amounted to £688.4 billion GBP in 2018, with the value of online retail sitting at £76.04 billion in 2019.

With such a recent surge in an already rapidly growing market, the delivery experience when buying products online has become more important than ever. Brands and businesses are focusing their attention on improving their overall service.

To find out exactly how important the delivery experience is for consumers, print and packaging experts, Where the Trade Buys, conducted a survey. Everything from the price of delivery – and the courier service being used – to memorable packaging and sharing on social media was analysed in the survey.

Here are the results from the responses. They make for interesting reading and give an insight into what people think before, during and after they buy a product online.

Is the delivery price, right?

The price being charged for an item to be delivered can either cause a consumer to empty their online basket or make them hit the ‘buy’ button.

Does paying for delivery put you off buying online?

Almost 70% of respondents said that simply paying for delivery puts them off buying online. A quick trip down the shops is the preferred choice if they must pay extra to get an item delivered from an online store.

Are you more likely to make a purchase if delivery is FREE?

A staggering 91% of people answered YES to this question. The incentive of free delivery incites people to shop online rather than on the high street.

Would you pay more for delivery to receive an item the next day?

It was interesting to see that despite being adverse to paying standard delivery fees, 65% of people would pay more for next-day delivery. Amazon is perceived as the masters of the next-day service with their Prime option, but others are starting to follow suit, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

Wanting products quickly can be put down to everything from impulse buys to needing an item for a present – and wanting to make sure you have it in good time.

At your service

It’s no secret companies rely on courier service experts to get items to customers. But how much notice do people take of who is delivering to their doorstep?

Do you pay attention to which courier service is delivering your item?

Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) said they take notice of which courier service is showing up at their door. It wouldn’t take you long to find examples of deliveries going wrong online. The latest example is a man who had £700 worth of trainers lost in transit.

Are you less likely to buy from the same seller if the courier service is poor?

To add further context to the above, 80% of people said they were less likely to buy from the same seller if the courier service they receive is poor. While product sellers and courier companies are separate, it’s understandable that people connect the two together when parting ways with hard-earned money.

Is it all in the packaging?

When comes to the packaging of a product, many businesses use it as an opportunity to showcase their brand or create excitement for what’s inside. The rise of social media has seen the emergence of ‘unboxing’ – a craze that’s been around since at least 2014, where people open items and video the experience for others to enjoy.

But for the everyday person who isn’t perhaps a social influencer, how important is the packaging?

Do you pay attention to the packaging of the item you’ve bought?

An impressive 71% of people admitted that they do pay attention to the packing for the item they’ve just purchased. This is where brands can be creative and include personalised touches.

Do you think packaging should be personalised?

Despite 71% of people saying they paid attention to packaging, only 25% thought that packaging should be personalised. While it’s a low figure in comparison, businesses can still reap some rewards from adding an extra touch of care to their packaging.

Would memorable packing encourage you to share on social media?

The votes were practically split when it came to memorable packaging, with 48% saying they would share it on social media if it stood out. It may well be music to the ears of companies with an eye for cornering the social side of brand awareness.

Would memorable packaging encourage you to buy again from the same seller?

52% of people said if it were memorable, it would encourage them to buy again from the same seller. This is an interesting topic of conversation for brands and marketing teams to discuss, especially where sales figures are concerned.

Speaking about the role for print materials in the world of packaging, Gary Peeling, CEO of Where The Trade Buys, said:

“Using print materials to help packaging and in-box media stand out and make it more personalised is a great way to connect with consumers, but also cut through crowded digital channels via traditional methods of marketing.

“In a digital age, it’s important to remember that something as simple as a compliment slip can create a memorable experience and one that could encourage a consumer to buy from the same business again.”

The overall experience

To cap things off, when asked to give a rating out of five stars, for how positive the overall delivery experience needs to be, 78% of people said it would need to be a four out five service (very good) with 5% wanting the full five stars (excellent).

With the average score across all responses showing that the delivery experience needs to be four out of five stars to become a repeat customer, it’s a clear indication that everything from cost, courier service, packaging – and creating a truly memorable experience – is important for businesses to remember when selling their latest products.

How to Know What Jobs Can Be Best Done by Remote Workers

The remote work revolution is just beginning. While the current pandemic may have prompted it, there’s little doubt it’s here to stay.

We’ve seen just how many jobs can be successfully shifted to remote work, with no loss in productivity. The results have spanned multiple industries and disciplines, including law, governance, and education. Some sectors have surged in popularity, such as e-commerce, home fitness, business and finance websites, and online trading of via gamified applications.

The only question remaining is: How do you as a business owner or manager successfully adjust to this revolution in progress?

Below, we’ll look at how to restructure your workforce to this new remote-work environment without negatively impacting your company. The key is identifying which jobs and job functions workers can perform effectively in a remote setting.

How to Know If a Job Can Be Remote

Many job functions, and whole jobs, do not require the worker being located on-site. For instance, any work performed on a computer, such as research, analysis, and communication, can just as easily be performed in remote settings as in in-person ones. In some cases, it can be performed better.

Creative and critical collaborative work can function fluidly with the help of videoconferencing. Many many legal and accounting functions can translate to the remote environment with relative ease. Much managerial work, like project managers and sales managers, don’t require an on-site presence or in-person interactions to function effectively.

Other jobs and functions that workers can perform remotely include any work that involves:

  • Writing, editing, and preparing presentations
  • Computer coding and programming
  • Designing user interfaces for SaaS products for B2B, B2C, and individual use.
  • Conducting telephone surveys, telemarketing, and providing customer support.

Beyond these remote-workable positions and functions are many others you can find by examining your workplace and industry from a few certain angles.

Determine Which Jobs Cannot Be Remote

One way to determine which jobs can be remote is to identify those jobs that cannot be remote. Any job, for instance, that requires in-person interactions, such as positions involving physically attending to patients, operating specialized machinery, or working with sensitive materials would not work in a remote environment.

Other jobs and functions that workers cannot perform remotely include any work:

  • Involving physical contact with goods, such as shipping and receiving or food service
  • Requiring a public presence, such as transportation jobs, like cabbies, bus drivers, crossing guards, flight attendants, and toll-booth collectors
  • Demanding high security, such as a bank officer or prison guard.

 

Are You Already Partly Remote-Working?

Perhaps the first question to ask when assessing how your company can transition to remote work is whether you’re already part way there.

Are your workers performing certain tasks remotely already? Perhaps a worker needed to stay home to attend to an elderly parent and found that he or she could still take care of certain work duties without interruption. If so, what are they?

Perhaps a worker is recovering from surgery or homeschooling a child whose school has tentatively shut down, yet still remains on the clock? What’s working about this arrangement and what could be working better?

Use your current instances of remote-work, even if minimal, to help you start ascertaining what types of work can best be performed remotely and what types may be more challenging in that setting?

How Are Your Competitors Adapting to Remote Work?

If you’ve noticed your competitors starting to make the shift to remote work, then you may already be behind the curve. It’s no matter, however. You can make up lost time by learning from their successes and mistakes.

Managing Remote Workers Effectively

Just because workers aren’t present on-site, doesn’t mean they don’t need to be managed. Remote workers need to be managed. They don’t necessarily need as much management. But they will definitely need a different kind of management.

To best manage a remote workforce:

  • Be clear about expectations, guidelines, boundaries, and deadlines.
  • Remain flexible with your workers while being organized to keep track of everyone’s responsibilities.
  • Adapt meetings to be briefer and more focused so as to account for the unique challenges of meeting remotely like distractions and technology issues.
  • Allow your workers to create their own schedules so long as they align with your larger deadlines and needs.
  • Check-in regularly to see how everything is going with each remote worker and ask if there’s any help you could provide.
  • Welcome feedback.
  • Promote collaboration, taking advantage of collaboration software, apps, and online services to help workers bridge physical gaps.
  • Honor accomplishments so workers can still feel a sense of community and pride in their successes.

 

Tax, Regulatory, and Legal Considerations

Remote work does present some logistical considerations to be aware of. If, for example, one of your remote workers is situated in a different municipality, state, or country, this could trigger a new corporate tax presence in that area.

You could also run into tax issues prompted by new worker classifications. Be sure you’re aware of the legal and tax distinctions between independent contractors and employees federally and in your area. You don’t find yourself responsible for noncompliance penalties, back taxes, or backdated employee benefits, among other potential liabilities. Remember: just because someone works remotely does not mean they aren’t employees.

Other possible regulatory concerns to be aware of include applicable immigration procedures and data security protocols.

Summary

Most important to remember when considering how to adapt your workplace to a remote-work environment (even partially) is that you can do it however you want. There is no singular fixed way to do it right, only what’s right for you, your company, and your workers. Take all three into account in every decision you make as you progress forward with your restructuring plans. And always be flexible enough to make course corrections along the way as they become necessary.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for the business community. But it has also provided us all new options. Now is the time to adapt your workforce to accommodate your company and workers so everyone thrives in whatever climate comes next.

Figure out which jobs and job functions workers can perform effectively in remote settings by seeing where your company and others are already doing it and by breaking down job titles into their individual functions.

How Technology Innovations Have Helped Fast-Track the Low-Touch Economy

Many industries have had to quickly adapt to new operational guidelines due to the coronavirus outbreak completely changing the economy and the way we live our lives. Many professions that the public took for granted were prevented from operating under their normal circumstances.

However, innovation is at the forefront of our economy and technological and operational advancements have allowed for these goals to continue and strengthen the base of their sector. The low-touch economy has become the prominent form of professional service.

When will life return to normal? Professor Julian Hiscox, from the University of Liverpool, suggests that while normality may begin in the summer of 2021, he predicts: “we won’t be ‘back to 2019’ for five years.”

The need for continued distancing and regulation mean that businesses must adapt to the limited contact world of work. Here, we look at how businesses and workers are innovating their jobs to fit in with the new low-touch economy.

What is the low-touch economy?

While the low-touch economy represents a transactional service between businesses and customers without any contact, the pandemic has emphasised its importance as a reflection of social distancing requirements. In this sense, many jobs that you would expect to focus on customer interaction have now been forced to fulfil roles and tasks remotely or with significantly reduced contact.

In this sense, new relationship principles between workers and customers are being curated. And both parties are only starting to understand what they mean. However, with government guidance and restrictions, there are expectations of the new low-touch economy that must be met.

Helpful technology

Adapting to the low-touch economy has been difficult for the hospitality industry. Government restrictions on social distancing include the requirement to provide table service. For bars, pubs, and restaurants that have relied on over-the-counter ordering, innovation has been key.

Mobile app ordering has been common in some establishments in the past five years. But now smaller businesses are adapting to the digital transformation.

Previously, businesses would need to develop in-house applications. However, in 2020 digital platforms now allow any business to provide service using customer’s phones.  Businesses need only to upload menus, set prices, and designate table numbers, before receiving orders.

Doing this stops customers from clustering at bar areas and complies with the regulation. This prevents potentially spreading the coronavirus, should customers be contagious at the time.

Green means go

Traffic light systems are being used to manage customer flow where space is restricted. This is mainly being used in supermarkets.

Innovation has allowed stores to detect the number of customers shopping at any one time. Stores can review this number and compare it to the safe capacity of their facilities. Businesses can prevent overcrowding, and ensure social distancing is adhered to.

Facility entrances will feature a red and green light. This means that should a store be too full, customers will be informed to wait with a red light. Green lights mean that shopping can begin immediately.

Social distancing will be key to defeating the virus, and the innovations of the low-touch economy are helping this mission.

Book your slot

Unlike retail businesses, where customers continue to move through the location, hospitality venues will host customers for a considerable period of time. Table service requirements may leave some customers disappointed. If there is no space for additional people, customers may be turned away from their favourite venue.

To tackle this, the low-touch economy has promoted the use of booking services. These can be used both online and over the phone.

Additionally, customers may be limited to time slots, meaning their time at the table is finite. This allows more customers to experience a business’ service.

The benefits of this innovation are various. Staggered bookings mean that staff are not overwhelmed, customers will not be disappointed, and cleaning schedules can be efficient.

Cleaning is an important step in the low-touch economy. Tables should be cleaned after every use to prevent the virus from remaining on surfaces. Disinfectant and centrefeed roll have become essential for defeating the virus. Like PPE equipment, cleaning supplies should be disposed of immediately after use. Blue roll is easily disposable and biodegradable.

The low-touch economy will continue to grow as we combat the coronavirus and the subsequent restrictions it has caused. While the adverse circumstances have been difficult for businesses, the innovations it has produced will in no doubt help them in the future.

Survey Reveals High Levels of Employee Engagement in Europe Following Remote Work Shift

  • According to a recent survey from Hogan Assessments, including mid-level managers from mid to large sized companies across Europe, 86% claim they are engaged with their organization despite the shift to remote work.
  • Employee engagement refers to the commitment and connection employees have to their organization and is critical for business unit performance.

 

The global shift to remote work following COVID-19 has presented several key challenges for business leaders, many of which stem from communication obstacles and the of disruption of daily social activities. A recent survey carried out by Hogan Assessments, which consisted predominantly of mid-level managers from mid to large sized companies across Europe, revealed that 60% of respondents find remote work mentally challenging.

With teams suffering interpersonally right now due to remote work and lack of in-person interaction, leaders now more than ever are tasked with maintaining staff engagement and business unit performance in the post-COVID era. However, despite popular belief surrounding the impact of remote work on staff engagement, Hogan Assessments – the global leader in workplace personality assessment and leadership development – reports that 86% of respondents are in fact engaged with their organization, and 42% of these claim to be highly engaged.

Engagement

Employee engagement refers to the commitment and emotional connection employees have to their organization and work. Employees are engaged when their work and company’s culture align with their motives and values.  While 60% of survey respondents found working from home mentally challenging, this did not negatively impact engagement for the overwhelming majority.

According to Hogan, employee engagement is predominantly shaped by leadership effectiveness, with effective leaders defined as those who can successfully lead a high-performing and engaged team. The same survey found that over 60% received adequate support from their manager following the shift to remote work, while over 80% claimed that their employer was supportive in their adaptation to remote work. These latest findings indicate that while challenges arose for workers following the shift to remote work, attitudes towards leadership remained stable and positive throughout Europe.

“Employees know that the challenges of remote work are not the result of their employer’s incompetence, but rather the result of a global pandemic” adds Dr. Ryne Sherman, Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessments. “Employees also know that everyone is going through the same challenges, and as a result, their emotional commitment to their organizations remains as high as, or perhaps even higher, than it was before working from home.”

Engagement and productivity

Hogan’s leadership value chain – based on over 30 years of data on job performance and leadership effectiveness – states that personality drives leadership, leadership drives employee engagement, and engagement ultimately drives organizational performance. Personality also influences how managers interact with their employees, and how teams interact with each other, which sets the company culture – another key ingredient for employee engagement.

When asked about productivity while working from home, 44% of survey respondents claim they are more productive and 42% claim they are just as productive compared to working in the office. Furthermore, when asked about the productivity of their team at large, 67% claim they are more productive while working remotely. Digital collaboration and communication is reported as the top challenge with remote work among respondents (38.9%), with productivity accounting for only 3.2%.   

High performing remote teams

“Perhaps the biggest challenge to maintaining employee engagement and a high performing remote team is identifying which team members are becoming disengaged. Anyone can appear engaged and motivated during weekly calls, but it is hard to spot who is really struggling with the challenges of remote work. It is important for managers to gain the trust of their employees so that they can have honest conversations about engagement and what can be done to keep them motivated. Decades of research on leadership effectiveness tell us that, in order to maintain a high performing team in the post-COVID era, managers must be well-adjusted, strong communicators, and deeply compassionate when it comes to supporting vulnerable employees.”

Personality matters

Zsolt Feher, Managing Director at Hogan Assessments adds: “One advantage of remote work is that there is less room to confuse activity with productivity. Some employees are great at being ‘seen’ in the workplace without accomplishing much, so remote work will require those employees to produce tangible results as their political skill will not be as effective. For all employees, leaders should double down on regular goal setting that involves targets and deadlines, just as they would in face-to-face settings. Employees with discretionary effort who are meeting their objectives will be easy to spot.”

How Rural Living Can Help the UK’s Food Security Problem

Food security, put simply, is the state of having reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. While the UK benefits from a successful agricultural industry, many domestic and international factors affect food production and prices for consumers. This became evident during the world food price spike of 2008.

A successful agricultural industry gives the perception that food security isn’t at risk in the UK. But the country is only around 58% self-sufficient and is reliant on imports from countries all over the world. This has caused with a trade deficit of £24 billion in food.

This fact is magnified by the uncertainty of Brexit, with a no-deal agreement bad for security and bad for business. The recent pandemic has also made it harder to import foods from global locations, and food that is shipped over is taking longer in transit.

Lockdown restrictions have also left farming and food production in a situation where it needs to bounce back from the crisis of the pandemic. In this article, Flogas, a supplier of off-grid gas to rural homes, explores how living rurally can help the UK’s food security problem.

The current climate

Around 84% of fruit and 46% of vegetables consumed in the country are imported. While Brexit and COVID-19 threaten a steady supply to urban areas, problems created by climate change also risk disrupting imports of food from abroad.

Climate change can reduce global food access and affect its quality. An increase in temperature, change in precipitation patterns, extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability can result in reduced agricultural productivity.

For those living in a rural location, the opportunity to grow fruit and vegetables in allotments, gardens and other accessible land is one that not only gives people a fresh supply of food when they need it but a chance to be part of something bigger — helping increase food security.

Grow your own, off-grid  

To grow fruit and vegetables, ample space and good quality soil are required. Although it might not be possible to grow bananas or pineapples — due to average UK temperatures — apples, pears and strawberries can be on the menu.

Apple trees are probably the easiest fruit trees to grow and one of the most popular with gardeners. Thousands of varieties can be produced, but they tend to fall into two categories — either dessert or cookers, with the latter perfect for cooking with. Some are even-dual purpose.

Pears also follow a similar growth pattern to apples and don’t fall far from the tree. Strawberries are also easy to grow and can even be produced from hanging baskets.

Homegrown strawberries are delicious and prove to be great value compared to shop-bought equivalents. Just remember they need sun, shelter, and fertile soil to thrive.

In the world of vegetables, the humble potato is a popular choice for growing on home soil. Versatile as chips, roast potatoes, and mash, an ample supply of spuds whenever you need them is a great way to reduce the reliance on farmer and supermarket supplies.

In fact, everything from chilli peppers to radishes can be grown at home, giving people in rural area a wide variety of vegetables to choose from. To help people learn how to grow their own, the Royal Horticultural Society has an A-to-Z list of fruit and vegetables on their website, as well as guides on how to grow them.

Not only can fruit and vegetables provide a good food source, but it can turn into a regular hobby or side-project, especially for people who’ve been furloughed, work part-time, or are retired. Produce could be sold to local people, local suppliers, and even restaurants who want to use local produce on their menu.

Home gardening can play an important role in advancing food security during and after the pandemic. It can also strengthen the provisioning of the UK food ecosystem. Although homegrown fruit and vegetables aren’t the definitive answer for improving the 58% self-sufficient rate, it’s a good start for those living off-grid. Something that could just be a hobby helps to put more food on the table without the reliance on imports or straining supply chains.

Which Marketing Campaigns Did We Love During Lockdown?

Nothing catches the eye quite like a good marketing campaign, especially during difficult times like a lockdown. Washington Direct Mail has looked at which marketing campaigns the public loved during 2020 and ranked them in popularity. This was measured by looking at a mix of social interactions and brand mentions. In this article, we will show you some of the campaigns that the nation enjoyed and engaged with during the initial lockdown period.

Vogue for the normal woman

Vogue’s July 2020 cover made history by featuring three women who were not models or actresses but frontline workers. These three women were Narguis Horsford, a train driver on the London Overground; Rachel Millar, a community midwife; and Anisa Omar, a supermarket worker. All the photos were taken during lockdown, following social distancing guidelines, and at each woman’s place of work.

Vogue UK editor Edward Enninful said this about covers: “They represent the millions of people in the UK who, at the height of the pandemic, put on their uniforms and went to help.”

It’s no wonder that this campaign came on top of the list of the nation’s favourite because it represented the nation at this moment in time. People were doing very important jobs and had to risk their lives going to work each day. 

A political pint, please

BrewDog ranked second as the nation’s favourite marketing campaign during the first lockdown period. This could be because it was all based on a political situation. The Prime Minister’s advisor, Dominic Cummings, caused outrage during lockdown when he drove his family from London to Durham for childcare, and then caused further public outrage when driving 30 minutes to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight before driving back down to London.

The brewery took this situation and asked their followers to come up with a name for their new beer based on the event. A winner was chosen, and the beer is called the ‘Barnard Castle Eye Test’ with the tag line ‘a short-sighted beer for tall stories’. This is not just a campaign about a beer with a political name, though. All the profits made from the sale of the beer went to funding the production of BrewDog’s own hand sanitiser which they give free to the NHS and health care charities. So, you can have a delicious pint and help the NHS at the same time.

The return of the takeaways

One of the big casualties of the first stage of lockdown was McDonald’s. People were left craving some McNuggets for the longest time. So, it’s no wonder McDonald’s came fifth on the list with their ‘Return of the Mac’ advert. The apt name used the song ’Return of the Mack’ to advertise that outlets were back open.  

KFC made it to one below McDonald’s at sixth with their ‘We’ll Take It From Here’ campaign which displayed the public’s poor attempts at making their own KFC at home. The pictures and videos had been uploaded to social media, which KFC took and made a short clip displaying some of the best – or worst – with Celine Dion’s iconic ‘All By Myself’ playing in the background, proving that no one makes fried chicken as good as KFC.

 

Serious campaigns

Not all of the campaigns produced during lockdown were to sell products or services. Many were there to help the British public.

We celebrated the brilliant NHS workers all the way through 2020. We all remember standing on our doorsteps clapping for staff every week during the first lockdown. EE decided to take their love for the NHS one step further and gave them all free unlimited data for the lockdown period. You liked their generous gift so much it got to seventh on the list.

An important campaign that made the list at number nine was the one made by Women’s Aid. Domestic violence was a big concern for the country as many people knew it would get worse with people having to stay in the house all day, every day. A joint investigation between Panorama and Women’s Aid found that there was one domestic abuse call made every 30 seconds in the first seven weeks of lockdown. It shows that this campaign has made a big difference given that it is within the top ten of the list.

Overall, there were some fantastic campaigns over the lockdown period that showed how amazing this nation can be when they all rally behind something. Whether these campaigns came through a mailing service or you saw them on the TV, they really captured the spirit of the nation.

Industries Revolutionised by Smart Technologies

When we think about rapid developments in terms of wireless technology, we often automatically assume it’s in regard to telecommunications. However, with so many alternative industries taking advantage of the offerings that wireless technology and connectivity provides, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Many companies recognised the need for intelligent wireless technologies and the importance of the likes of the Cloud Space back in late March following the announcement of nationwide lockdown. A report by Ofcom showed that 94 per cent of businesses believe digital technologies are crucial to increasing their productivity too. With this in mind, businesses who’d failed to prepare with said technologies were left ruing, finding difficulty to mobilise their business and staff while those who had found the transition effortless.

The question is, how much of an impact have wireless technologies and connectivity had on each industry? Here, we take a look at the industries revolutionised by smart technologies and the impact that 5G will have on their future.

Energy

Connectivity in the energy industry “helps augment the critical role that the industry has in the economy, increasing asset efficiency and reducing costs.”.

Thanks to the power of wireless technologies and connectivity, the energy industry as a whole has been able to transition from a predictive system to a real-time reporting alternative. Now, as opposed to depending on unreliable predictions and basing conclusions on previous events, the construction industry is able to balance both supply and demand in harmony, maintain critical infrastructure, and harness technology to educate and inform consumers.

The result is one of positivity for both the business and the consumer, directly translating into greater reliability and lower costs for both.

5G communications, meanwhile, are expected to further transform the energy industry, vastly increasing download and upload speeds — times can 96 per cent faster than that offered by 4G.

While fuelling the Smart Grid to improve forecasting is certainly one way in which technologies have impacted the energy industry, it has been noted that 5G can work to rapidly develop technologies such as automatic traffic lights — preventing significant energy waste.

Construction

Back in early 2020, a Chinese construction company (CSCEC) was the first construction site to implement 5G into their processes.

The site had already introduced smart technologies such as AI, big data, and building information modelling (BIM) however 5G connectivity has promised to provide site chiefs with the part of the puzzle they’ve been looking for.

5G is being used on-site to better enable data collection, ultimately improving a variety of aspects, including health and safety and process efficiency. For example, a member of staff could log on from the portacabin and check the status of a piece of machinery to see if it is in use before traipsing halfway across the construction site.

Caterpillar’s Customer Enterprise Digital Manager, notes: “When a site can become connected, there are multiple benefits, including improved safety, reduced costs of materials, and increasing the availability of the workforce by making jobs easier to do.”

Healthcare  

The Internet of Things has already been working to transform the healthcare industry, collecting, recording, and analysing data. It has also been allowing for the improvement of access to care, the improvement of the quality of care, and a reduction in the cost of care.

Remote monitoring of patients means that treatment comes to them rather than vice versa and information regarding their welfare is shared through wireless connectivity to the relevant professional. Similarly, others can benefit from early intervention of preventative care, where a monitoring device is capable of tracking them and reporting on them — ideal for someone elderly who is more likely to suffer a fall at home.

In the wake of Covid-19 we can expect to see a number of further transformations in regard to digital technologies and the role they play in the healthcare industry.

Analysts have suggested that the use of telehealth will triple by 2025 and it will be powered by the capabilities of 5G. Meanwhile, the superfast internet will also offer healthcare professionals the ability to send the likes of MRI scans online, with ease. This has been a particular problem thanks to the fact these documents are usually around 1GB in document size, making them rather complex to share.

Transportation

Wireless technologies have, for a considerable amount of time, played a significant role in the developments which have occurred within the transport industry.

The creation of autonomous vehicles such as Google’s Waymo and the establishment of Smart Roads that we’re starting to see pop up in the Scandinavian countries have all been fuelled by the likes of AI, automation, and a plethora of smart technologies.

However, the introduction of 5G to the transport industry looks set to take things even further. 5G rail connectivity is being tested in a bid to develop a fully automated rail service, while car manufacturers across the globe are investing in similar concepts to allow their vehicle to vehicle communication to take off.

Here we’ve detailed just some examples of the industries that have been revolutionised thanks to the smart technologies but following recent events, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a plethora of alternatives facing complete overhauls introducing similar processes and concepts. The UK governments instruction to remove Huawei equipment could delay things significantly, however, with the entire 5G infrastructure impactable — we will simply have to wait and see!

These European DeFi Companies Are Changing the Finance Industry

With DeFi set to revolutionize cryptocurrency, Europe is attempting to position itself as a natural home for cryptocurrency innovation.

Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, has long been a center of fintech innovation. Neo-banks like Revolut and Transferwise have made it easier than ever for individuals to do business in multiple currencies. Electronic credit cards are even becoming the norm. This makes it natural that Europe has become the 3rd largest center of DeFi innovation after the US and Singapore.

Before diving into some of the top decentralized finance (DeFi) companies in Europe, let’s take a look at why you should care about it. In its most basic form, DeFi matters because there is a lot of money associated with it. The last year has seen a huge rise in the price of the major cryptocurrencies — partly due to increased interest from individuals and a big commitment from institutional investors. But DeFi is also fueling the boom.

DeFi projects are often touted as the next stage of financial technology. Rather than relying on centralized institutions, such as Visa or banks, they utilize smart contracts.

These contracts are lines of codes with specific triggers that enable users to trade or lend money. The vast majority of them are based on the Ethereum blockchain and use the ERC20 protocol. This means that it is possible to create trustless platforms that don’t require middlemen — reducing costs and potentially democratizing the financial sector.

Sounds interesting? Let’s look at some specific projects.

1. Argent: Providing a Gateway to the World of DeFi

A quirk of most DeFi is that it requires Ethereum or an Ethereum-based token. This could put off many people as cryptocurrency can be a little confusing to get into. The UK based start-up Argent raised $12 million to do just that. 

The company provides a simple-to-use wallet, which allows users to easily buy Ethereum. It also allows them to easily take part in other DeFi developments, such as crypto lending platforms or exchange liquidity programs. This makes Argent a useful gateway to the crypto world for the uninitiated. 

Additionally, it comes with a unique security feature. Social recovery allows users to define a guardian for their wallet. This means that you can define an individual, such as a family member, who can recover your funds in case your wallet is ever compromised.

2. Jellyswap: A Crypto-Agnostic DeFi Exchange

For some time, decentralized exchanges lacked the liquidity to compete with centralized exchanges like Kraken or Coinbase. Then UniSwap came and leveraged smart contracts to adjust the price based on how much cryptocurrency was in a specific pool. This meant that there was always liquidity for a trade, even if you wanted to sell a relatively unknown token. The problem is that you can only trade tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, that’s where Bulgaria-based JellySwap comes in.

The platform uses Hash-Time Locked Contracts to enable interoperability between the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. This means that users can directly trade Bitcoin without being forced to wrap it in an Ethereum contract first. Like UniSwap, the platform also enables users to earn money by providing liquidity to the protocol.

3. Nexus Mutual: Decentralized Insurance

There are few industries more reviled than the insurance industry. But Nexus Mutual might offer a way to fix that. Launched in 2019, the London-based project is a community owned insurance platform based on the Ethereum blockchain. It is designed to allow users to pool risk against smart contract hacks that act as a form of insurance for the blockchain world.

Users are able to purchase the Nexus Mutual token (NXM) to prove their share in the Nexus Mutual ecosystem. The tokens are also necessary to participate in, or set-up, insurance contracts. This means that users are able to protect themselves in a kind of collective insurance agreement, instead of relying upon 3rd party insurance.

The project has proven popular and is already being used to provide protection for decentralized exchanges. The project recently expanded its offering to include centralized exchanges like Binance and Kraken.

4. AAVE: Decentralized Lending & Borrowing

Another UK-based project, AAVE, is a pioneer in the crypto lending space. The project launched in January 2020 as a decentralized non-custodial lending protocol based on the Ethereum blockchain.

It allows users to lend or borrow ETH or ERC20 tokens without going through a third party organization. Those lending money are able to benefit through interest rates that are often significantly higher than the market average.

Flash loans are another interesting feature of AAVE. These are trustless, uncollateralized loans where the borrowing and repayment of any assets must occur within the same Ethereum transaction. If a borrower fails to repay with interest then the transaction never executes and the funds are returned to the lender. These have a number of interesting uses.

5. Centrifuge: Converting Real-World Assets Into Digital Assets

One of the more confusing aspects of cryptocurrency is the practice of putting real-world assets onto a blockchain. If it’s done right, it could open the door to a wave of decentralized finance innovation. This is exactly the challenge that Germany’s Centrifuge is taking on.

The platform is built on the Centrifuge chain. It comes with a number of features, including a P2P messaging protocol, an Ethereum Bridge, and a set of smart contracts called Tinlake. These contracts are designed to hook directly into the existing DeFi ecosystem and could provide a way for traditional companies to take advantage of the flexibility this ecosystem provides.

These contracts allow users to create asset pools. Each can be configured with different interest rates and collateralization ratios. This makes it easy for a company to create dedicated pools for different kinds of assets or risk factors. The company hopes that this will diversify the types of assets currently being used in DeFi and stabilize the sector as a whole.

2021 Will Be a Fascinating Year for DeFi

These projects are just a small selection of the experiments being undertaken in the DeFi sector today. As crypto matures and becomes more widely adopted, we should expect a significant number of new and varied projects to appear.

Their impact could well be significant and it is likely that Europe will become a center of DeFi innovation.

Meet the Businesses Leading the Way by Switching from Oil to Gas

Back in June 2019, the UK became the first country to pass a net zero emissions law, with a target set for bringing all greenhouse gases to net zero by 250.

This pledge from the government has had a big impact on the way businesses work, inspiring many to introduce new ways of reducing their carbon footprint. For businesses operating off-grid, one of the options available to reduce carbon emissions is to switch to from oil to gas as a preferred energy supply.

Not only can switching from oil to gas help reduce carbon emissions, but it has the added benefit of potential cost savings. To find out who’s been playing their part in creating a green future, leading Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) supplier, Flogas have put together a list of businesses who’ve made the switch already.

Tamnavulin – whisky distillers

Based in Speyside, Tamnavulin is a single malt whisky distillery that produces over four million litres of Scotland’s favourite tipple a year. Driven by the Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD), and a business requirement to cut carbon emissions and running costs, Tamnavulin turned to gas instead of oil.

Tamnavulin’s fuel requirements were assessed and a bespoke gas storage system was designed, along with all their pipework and civil work. This allowed the distillery to switch from heavy fuel oil (HFO) to LPG.

When compared to another distillery that still operates using HFO, Tamnavulin now produces 269 times less particulate matter, 767 times less sulphur dioxide, and three times less oxides of nitrogen.

Result of switching from oil to LPG: 19.7% per year reduction in CO2 emissions

Carden Park Hotel

Set within a picturesque 1,000-acre estate, Carden Park is a luxury 196-room hotel 196 that also boasts 18 meeting rooms, a spa, two championship golf courses, two restaurants and 10 wedding ceremony venues, as well as a three-acre vineyard.

Over 20,000 guests visit the off-grid hotel each calendar year, so a substantial amount of energy is needed to power heating, hot water, and other facilities like the kitchen.

With such a high energy consumption, the hotel was spending heavily on oil and were looking for more sustainable ways find a way to reduce their overheads. They researched other off-grid options, such as renewables, but LPG was deemed the most appropriate choice and provided them with the quickest results -which ended up being a saving of 277 tonnes of carbon every year.

10 LPG tanks were discreetly fitted underground in the vineyard to ensure there was no visual impact on the landscape for guests, staff and visitors.

Result of switching from oil to LPG: 23% reduction in annual CO2 emissions, 21.8% saving in fuel costs

Pat Munro – quarrying & aggregate production

As one of the biggest contractors in the Scottish Highlands, Pat Munro owns and operates quarries, and manufactures roadstone and concrete, as well as recycled aggregates and tarmacadam.

With vast production comes a huge heat demand on an annual basis. The company was previously using up to half a million litres of gas oil – also known as ‘red diesel’ – to heat tens of thousands of tonnes of rock in its roto dryer every year – generating 1,114 tonnes of CO2e in the process.

After Pat Munro’s energy needs were assessed, a project-managed team helped the switchover from start to finish, which included specifying, designing, and installing the fuel system and LPG tanks, and supplying the LPG.

Result of switching from oil to LPG: 25% reduction in CO2e emissions, 19% saving in fuel costs

The standard setters

This article has delved briefly into business examples of the companies switching from oil to gas. The benefits, including cost saving is clear to see, so the hope is that more businesses on a year-by-year basis give serious consideration to switching from oil to gas.

How Business can Successfully Move Production Back to Their Home Country

The vital steps involved in businesses moving production back to their home country have been outlined by top academics from BI Norwegian Business School and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). When a business moves the production of goods and services back to their home country, this is known as ‘backsourcing.’

Outsourcing, moving the production of goods and services from high-cost to low-cost countries, has been a trend for many years. However, some companies are experiencing disadvantages when producing abroad and, with the ongoing pandemic as well as Brexit, the challenges of global supply chains have become much clearer. Organisations may decide to backsource due to problems with foreign suppliers, coordination costs, lack of infrastructure, or changes in their home country.

Professor Hans Solli-Sæther (from NTNU) and Professor Jan Terje Karlsen (from BI) studied a company which successfully moved parts of production back to their home country. They identified a four-phase process which a company can follow to successfully backsource:

1. The Initial Phase

If an event occurs that triggers the possibility of moving production home, companies should have an exit strategy. However, if there is no prepared plan, the company must start making long-term plans to identify whether there is a need to make changes in the production process and suppliers.

2. The Scoping Phase

Companies must decide which products and services should be moved home, as well as terminate relevant contracts with existing suppliers. Also, if certain parties have collaborated in research and development, it must be clarified how rights between parties should be handled.

3. The Re-Integration Phase

It must be addressed what is required to resume production at home and what changes need to be made to buildings or facilities. Also, it may have been a long time since production was handled at home, so there might be a lack of relevant expertise in the organisation. Therefore, it is important to look at what skills will be needed.

4.The Evaluation Phase

The final stage involves assessing whether the company has achieved what they expected by moving home and whether there are new reasons to move production abroad again. Employees from different parts of the organisation can come together for a joint evaluation on this.

Professor Jan Terje Karlsen says,
“There are a number of reasons why a company might move production back home but some conditions can make it difficult in practice. This includes higher costs in the home country, lack of qualified labour, or challenges related to suppliers. Internal conditions can also hinder the process including lack of capacity to handle production or finding manufacturing products in their own production facilities difficult.”

Nicole Junkermann on the Future of Broadcasting Services in Sport

By Nicole Junkermann

The rise of technology has transformed the way we are consuming all forms of media, and the sports industry is no exception. A report from Drake Star Partners forecast that the global sports technology sector will reach $31.1billion by 2024.

However, in these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 crisis, the restrictive lockdown measures in place across the world have shattered the sports industry. In September, sports fans were told “to prepare for no spectators throughout the winter”. Although lockdown restrictions continue, some still remain hopeful. For example, Manchester United announced in October that Old Trafford stadium has been modified to accommodate 23,5000 socially distanced spectators as soon as football clubs are given the go-ahead to begin allowing fans back in. The financial impact of the pandemic, however, continues to severely affect many sports and teams, with FIFA having estimated a loss of nearly £11 billion to the football industry and Manchester United themselves having suffered a £70m drop in expected revenue in the period to 30 June 2020.

It is clear that this crisis has accelerated the need for all major sports to embrace change to survive, for example by utilising streaming services in a growing technological landscape, although this particular initiative has not been without controversy.  Streaming for some appears to be one of the few lifelines, outside of direct financial support from the government.

But what does the broader future of broadcasting look like? A survey conducted by Deloitte found the average fan satisfaction across broadcast and streaming services at 39%, 15% lower than fan satisfaction in the stadium. It showed that the single most important factor for fans was picture quality. Although we are not there yet, my personal vision is an immersive virtual reality in sports where ground-breaking and exciting technology could offer a new way of viewing, enabling fans to ‘take to the field’ alongside their teams.

I have been involved in and followed the sports broadcasting industry from the outset of my career and it has been a fascinating journey to see how the market has evolved into the huge mainstream global industry it is today. I am a proud investor in Grabyo, a browser-based live video production suite that is used by major sports federations and media companies to produce professional-quality live streams and video clips for digital audiences.

Introducing Grabyo

Grabyo allows broadcasters and content rights holders to instantly create, edit, share and monetise video clips in real time. This enables them to capitalise on the significant commercial opportunities provided by sharing live video across web, social and mobile – thereby helping brands to engage with fans. In my opinion, Grabyo could well be the future of broadcasting.

Founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur Will Neale and led by experienced CEO Gareth Capon, Grabyo’s ever-growing list of big-name customers includes Sky, La Liga, The Premier League, Wimbledon, Fox Sports, and Reuters. Grabyo has enjoyed its rapid international expansion with partnerships now with over 60 premium rights holders, brands, and publishers in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. 

Alongside NJF Capital, investors include Tony Parker, the former French-American professional basketball player, as well as ex-Arsenal Football Club stars Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, and Robin van Persie.

In recent years, the way that sports fans have been able to consume and experience live sporting events has changed at a rapid pace. Now, the pandemic has altered the sports broadcasting landscape, possibly forever. While the future is hazy as to when stadiums, grounds, and sporting arenas will re-open to the public, one thing we certainly know is the future of sports broadcasting will have technology at the forefront.

Early Brexit Chaos Just “tip of the iceberg” Says Cross-border Trade Specialist

Problems in the first few days since Brexit are the “tip of the iceberg”, according to cross-border eCommerce trade expert Hurricane Commerce.

Hurricane says that the issues caused by lack of complete and valid customs data and VAT now being payable on low value goods into the UK will cause severe challenges over the coming days and weeks.

Last week, DPD temporarily suspended parcel deliveries to the EU due to lack of data, stating that 20% of items had incorrect or incomplete information.

Several UK online retailers, including luxury food merchant Fortnum & Mason, have temporarily stopped taking orders from EU countries due to the extra customs paperwork now needed.

And some EU retailers have ceased taking UK orders following the January 1 change making overseas suppliers who send parcels containing goods valued at £135 or less to the UK responsible for paying any import VAT that is due.

Customer satisfaction has also been put under increased strain with consumers in the EU complaining about unexpected VAT charges and clearance fees, and UK consumers being asked to pay higher delivery charges to cover the extra work caused by Brexit.

Another major hurdle resulting from the Brexit trade deal concerns ‘rules of origin’ with the threat of tariffs due if goods do not meet the complex requirements or are not wholly made in either the UK or EU.

Martin Palmer, Hurricane’s Chief Content and Compliance Officer, said: “Online merchants and marketplaces, postal operators and carriers are starting to see the reality of Brexit and the ending of VAT exemption on low value goods by the UK Government.

“With the EU also removing the low value VAT threshold in July, the compliance pressures on all parts of the cross-border supply chain are set to intensify even further with similar issues to be experienced in all EU countries to those current being experienced in the UK

“The first week and a half since Brexit is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Martin added: “We predicted for the last six months of 2020 that many businesses were going to face serious challenges post January 1, while others did their planning and put the best possible systems in place.

“There is simply no escape from the need for complete and valid customs clearance data including product descriptions, HS6 codes, shipper and consignee details and country of origin.

“Retailers which offer Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) give themselves the best chance of keeping their customers happy by avoiding the doorstep shock of unexpected fees for customs duties and import taxes.”

Hurricane Commerce has developed a series of API solutions to help ensure seamless cross-border eCommerce trade covering data enhancement, duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied parties screening.

Its customers include some of the world’s leading postal operators, carriers, online merchant and marketplaces.

Remote Workers Pay: Should It Be Adjusted?

With the rise of employees working from home during the pandemic and the remote working trend likely to continue in the near future, many companies are contemplating a pay-cut to factor the changes to the employees work location.

Research carried out by Deutsche Bank found that enforcing a working from home tax could raise $48billion in the US and €16 billion in Germany. The impact to the employee is expected to be minimal, the equivalent to buying their lunch out each day. In the research the costs saved from commuting, lunches, office wear and laundry mean that, those working from home gain from not working in the office. However, this behavioural shift in the employment has is likely to continue a negative economic impact felt within the pandemic; transport requirements during peak commuting periods are likely to reduce, restaurants and catering establishments will lose the demand that was present before the pandemic as well as other businesses being directly and in-directly impacted.

Deutsche Bank suggests a 5% work from home tax to help recover the economy. In the research those with the option to work from home are more likely to have higher average salary, this causes the gap being the lower salary earners impacted the most by the pandemic and those working from home to increase.

The US saw a 45% increase in the number of employees working from home as a result of the pandemic to 50% (up from 5.4% prior to the pandemic). In a survey carried out by Deutsche Bank, of those who have started to work from home, 3 in 4 would like to continue working from home in some capacity post-covid. The majority of employees asked wanted to continue to work from home for 2 days per week (33%) whilst 19% wanted to WFH for 3 days a week and 16% for 1 day a week. The lowest percentages wanted to work from home on a full-time basis with only 4% wanting to work from home 4 days per week and another 4% wanting to work from home 5 days per week.

Using this survey data as an indicator, Deutsche Bank have calculated in the US alone, the WFM tax at a rate of 5% would raise $48bn per year.

Currently it is unclear if governments are likely to adopt the working from home tax with some countries such as the United Kingdom proving tax relief for those working from home as a result of the pandemic, due to the additional costs incurred for heating, metered water bills, broadband connection and more. Whilst Germany announce in December 2020, those working from home are entitled to a €5 per day rebate. However many companies are already undergoing a salary review to adjust remote workers salaries.

How will salaries change?

Some tech companies have already announced they will be revising employee’s salary based on changes to their place of work with Facebook requesting employees to inform them of if they move by the January 1st 2021. Those who have moved will receive a salary adjustment to reflect the employees’ location.

Salary adjustments can be increases as well as decreases depending on the employee’s location and the cost of living within that area.

What are the implications to Recruitment?

Many companies support remote hires, with some making this a large part of their future recruitment strategy. Remote working can provide companies with access to the right skillset to fulfil the requirements of the role regardless of the candidates’ proximate to the office.

However with salary adjustments likely to be made as a result of the user’s location, this could cause pay equity issues where employees are hired as their location determines a lower salary for the same skillset of other candidates in a more expensive location.

This salary adjustment for remote working could cause the gender pay gap in certain countries to widen with mothers opting to work from home more. Flexible working and working from home has previously been seen as a solution to bridge the gap in gender equality, yet applying an additional tax or applying salary adjustments could have a negative impact on women in particular.

Payroll Considerations for Remote Workers

As companies prioritise remote workers as a part of their recruitment strategy post-covid, employers are no longer limited by location. Companies will need to obey the employment and payroll law of the employee’s place of work. If collaboration is required across different time zone, employee’s standard working hours will need to reflect this as well as any compensation requirements for unsociable hours.

HR & Employment Law Considerations

As well as the caution required to assess the salary adjustments for existing employees and future employees, there are many HR and employment law considerations that need to be taken into account for an employer to be compliant with localized employment law.

If remote working roles continue to increase at the rate during the pandemic, employers will need to follow specific HR laws based on the employee’s place of work. Some countries such as X and Y have additional requirements in employment law for employees on remote worker contracts. Ensuring you have an international HR specialist to advise on these requirements is vital if your employees are based in locations around the world.

The article was written by Steve Cox, Chief Evangelist at IRIS FMP, an international payroll provider that handles payroll services in over 135 countries. It supports thousands of clients in these countries from small organizations to large multinational organisations.

Changes to EU, Swiss and Northern Ireland Nationals Rights to live and work In the UK 2021

The 1st January 2021 sees the enforcement of restriction, as EU Citizen will not be allowed to use Article 10 or 20 residence card rights. This means EU Countries issuing Article 10 and 20 cannot use these cards in the UK if traveling to the UK if you are bringing a non-EU Family member or for your family to join an EU Citizen settled or settling in the UK.

What will my non-EU family member rights be in 2021?

Your family member will be required for a EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, or a UK – issued EEA Family Permit or a UK – issued Biometric Residence Card, to have either of these visas your family member must have a valid national passport.

Do I have to prove my relationship with my EU family member in 2021?

If your EU family member is settled in the UK before the 31st of December 2020 and you arrived in the UK by the 31st of December 2020, you can apply as a family member provided that you can show that your relationship existed by 31st December 2020 or a non-EEA family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss family member that arrived by 31st December 2020. You will be required to show evidence of your relationship to that family member; that your relationship existed by 31st December 2020 (unless you are a child born or adopted after that date); that the relationship continues to exist on the date you apply.

What are my non-settled children’s rights if I am a settled EU Citizen in the UK?

if you were settled before the 31st of December 2020, you can apply for family entry clearance, provided you are able to show that your relationship existed prior to this period, as you must still supply evidence of the existing relationship, we are able to offer you support and legal representation before the Home Office.

What are my rights as  a EU Citizen intending to work in the UK in 2021?

You can still be offered employment, take up employment, once you have been issued a National Insurance number, which is issued with the Home Office decision documents.

What are my rights as a EU Citizen child primary carer in 2021?

As parent holding derivative rights in the UK, your status cards will expire on the 30th of June 2021, in addition you will still be allowed to enter the UK until this date, with the right to work and live in the UK, in addition local authorities will still continue to support your needs until such time, you will required to apply for settled or settling status, any previously held derivative rights status document will become invalid.

What are my rights as a child of a British or EU/Swiss Citizen in 2021?

As child holding derivative rights in the UK, your status cards will expire on the 30th of June 2021, in addition you will still be allowed to enter the UK until this date, with the right to work and live in the UK, in addition local authorities, will continue to support your needs until such time, you will be required to apply for settled or settling status, any previously held derivative rights status document will become invalid.

What are my rights as a primary carer of a British or EU/Swiss Citizen in 2021?

As primary carer holding derivative rights in the UK, your status cards will expire on the 30th of June 2021, in addition you will still be allowed to enter the UK until this date, with the right to work and live in the UK, in addition local authorities, will continue to support your needs until such time, you will be required to apply for settled or settling status, any previously held derivative rights status document will become invalid.

What are my rights as a child of a former worker or in current education from the EU/Swiss Citizen in 2021?

As a child of a former worker or in current education holding derivative rights in the UK, your status cards will expire on the 30th of June 2021, in addition you will still be allowed to enter the UK until this date, with the right to work and live in the UK, in addition local authorities, will continue to support your needs until such time, you will be required to apply for settled or settling status, any previously held derivative rights status document will become invalid.

How long does the Home Office take to offer a decision?

If you applied for a new EU Status Document before the 1st of January 2021, the Home Office date sought to issue you with a decision within 6 months, if your application is submitted after the date, the Home Office ought to supply you with a decision within 8 weeks.

Do Northern Irish Nationals have the right to settle their non-EU Families in the UK?

In simple terms Yes, but only if you have a family member who is an eligible person of Northern Ireland, whether you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen or not.

What documents do I have to show to prove I am of Northern Ireland decent?

The main sponsor must be from Northern Ireland, holding dual nationality [Northern Ireland and or British Citizen, and or at the time of their birth, have at least one parent who held British, Irish or dual citizenship (or was without any restriction on their period of residence) be living in the UK by the 31st of December 2021].

As an EU Citizen must I apply for permission to work?

Yes, form the 1st of January 2021, unless you were granted pre settled status prior to 31st December 2020, you must now apply for permission to work in the UK under the “Points Based System”.

The new immigration system will apply to people arriving in the UK from the 1st of January 2021. EU citizens moving to the UK to work need to get a visa in advance.

EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor to be able to apply.

How is my EU rights to work in the UK in 2021 checked?

In simple terms, as a registered EU nation in the UK, your intended employer can request to supply your current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call – you must give permission to your intended employer to view your details.

Will my EU qualifications be enough to work in the UK?

You will not be able to work in a regulated profession if your qualification from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein is not recognised in the UK.

Do I still pay Social Security Contributions as an EU Employee working temporarily in the UK?

There is no straightforward answer to this matter, it really depends on whether you intend to work long term or short term in the UK, for further guidance call to discuss your intended long-term plans in the UK.

From the 1st of January 2021, if you are an employee, self-employed or an employer, where you pay your social security contributions will depend on your circumstances and the country you are coming from.

If you come work in the UK from the EU, Norway or Switzerland, you will only have to pay into one country’s social security scheme at a time. This will usually be in the UK if that is where the work takes place. However, if you are only working temporarily in the UK, you may be able to get a certificate or document to carry on paying social security contributions in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. This means you will not have to pay social security contributions in the UK.

If you are a national of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. This means you will not have to pay social security contributions in the UK. 

As a EU National can I apply for a National Insurance Number?

No, this process in not one that is completed by the DWP for EU citizens intending to live in the UK after the 1st of January 2021.

a National Insurance Number will only be issued once your immigration status document has been issued by the Home Office confirming whether you have settled or setting status or whether your right to work long term been has been granted with a certificate or approval under the Points Based System.

As a EU/Swiss national I entered the UK on the 10th of January 2021, will my UK employer need to check if I have the right to work?

Yes. Where a valid application for a settled or settling status is outstanding with the Home Office the ECS will issue you with a ‘long’ Certificate of Application stating that you have the right to work in the UK whilst your application for the card is being considered. A Certificate of Application which includes the right to work will give you statutory excuse if it is less than 6 months old and is accompanied by a Positive Verification Notice that you have obtained by contacting the Home Office Employer Checking Service, stating that the holder has the permission to work in the UK.

How long can I work as an EU Citizen without my employer getting fined?

The excuse will last for 6 months from the date of the Positive Verification Notice. If the Home Office give you a ‘short’ Certificate of Application that does not state that the work is permitted, this means you do not have the right to work and the Home Office Employer Checking Service will provide a Negative Verification Notice.

What is my status document is delayed? Can I still work in the UK as an EU citizen?

If the Certificate of Application is more than 6 months old from the Home Office, and yours is still not determined, your employer and yourself can apply to the Home Office for  a replacement Certificate of Application, which will again be valid for 6 months. If you work is extended, you will need to contact the Employer Checking Service again to receive a new Positive Verification Notice verifying this.

There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of new EC/Swiss nationals that may be struggling to obtain National Insurance Numbers, this will not be issued unless you can show your status in the UK.

For expert EU Immigration rights to live and work in the UK advice, call us today on 01634 202095 or email [email protected]

 

EU Business News Announces the Winners of the 2020 German Business Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – EU Business News Magazine have announced the winners of the 2020 German Business Awards.

The last year has been a baptism of fire for young companies, and a challenging gauntlet for well-established ones. Yet the continuation of the German business landscape acts as a testament to the strength of the country’s companies as a whole. Despite challenges – and there have been many in 2020 – businesses young and old, small and large, have managed to navigate the uncertainty to thrive, and in some cases, become stronger.

Indeed, as we’re seeing now, many have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic on steady legs and ready to face 2021, whatever that might be. We launched the 2020 programme with all of this context in mind. Speaking on the success of this year’s winners, Awards Coordinator Jessie Wilson said: “The German Business Awards return once more, allowing EU Business News to reward the hardworking individuals and firms hailing from Germany for their innovation and excellence in their industry. I offer a heartfelt congratulations to all those recognised in the programme.”

EU Business News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. As such, very one of our winners can be certain that their success is deserved. We carefully evaluate everything from a business’s, or individual’s, performance over the past 12-months to ensure that only the most deserving parties walk away with one of our prestigious awards.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website (https://www.eubusinessnews.com/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

As subscription to EU Business News is free there is absolutely no reason not to sign up to receive this informative and fascinating resource.

The Rise of the Data-Driven Economy is an Opportunity for Innovators in Europe

The rapid rise of the data-driven economy is an opportunity for innovative companies in Europe and around the world to lead the way to the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Such activity could play a critical role in helping to rebuild global economies after the pandemic.

When discussing the new data-driven economy, which lies at the heart of the 4IR, industry analysts often refer to the words of the British data scientist, Clive Humby, who coined the phrase ‘data is the new oil’ in 2006. At the time, few businesses could have imagined the vast quantities of data that they would soon have access to and the value it could bring. However, fifteen years on, the role of meaningful data in informing business decisions and optimising revenues is much better understood, and a global innovation race is underway to harness its potential.

A global study published recently by the European Patent Office (EPO), entitled Patents and the 4th Industrial Revolution, has analysed trends in patent filings data linked to smart connected objects, which are involved in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, big data, automation, machine learning and AI. The study indicates that the pace of digital transformation of global economies has increased significantly over the past decade. From 2010 to 2018, global patent filings for smart connected objects rose by an average annual rate of 20% over this period, nearly five times faster than other technologies. The rise in patent filing activity is most notable in the areas of connectivity and data management.

As might be expected, the US is the most innovative region when it comes to advancing 4IR technologies. A third of all international patent families (IPFs) in 4IR technologies filed at the EPO since 2000 originated in the US. By contrast, Europe and Japan were each responsible for a fifth of international patent families in 4IR technologies over the same period.

In Europe, Germany was responsible for 29% of all IPFs between 2000 to 2018, with the UK and France trailing with 10% each. In terms of notable clusters for 4IR innovation, London ranked in 16th position globally and second position in Europe, beaten only by Eindhoven. This provides some indication of the strong reputation that London has gained as a thriving hub of digital tech innovation. The Tech Nation 2020 report confirms that UK tech companies attracted a record £10.1 billion investment in 2019 and the sector accounts for 2.93 million jobs. 

One of the most dynamic and prolific fields of 4IR innovation involves the application of wireless connected devices, which when equipped with sensors, can detect changes in the physical environment. By harnessing AI, these devices are able to respond in an optimal way, without human intervention. Such technologies underpin the development of smart factories, autonomous vehicles, smart grids, healthcare robots and much more.

The role of intellectual property (IP) in helping economies to harness these fast-developing technologies can’t be understated. Patent ownership in key global markets gives innovators an exclusive right to commercialise their innovations either by manufacturing goods and selling them, or by licensing their IP to third parties. Cities like London are already widely recognised as R&D hubs for wide-ranging digital technologies, but without IP understanding and investment, their value-generating potential would be quickly eroded.

As global economies begin to look for ways to rebuild after the pandemic, digital transformation is likely to accelerate. Businesses will be seeking to leverage data as fully as possible and optimise its revenue-generating potential. Patent protection will enable these businesses to attract the investment they need to secure a brighter future.

Karl Barnfather is chairman of European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers. He specialises in advising innovative businesses involved in the development of consumer electronics, computer-based technologies and software.

Make Energy Your Greatest Business Asset

Over one-third of Brits feel that working from home again has caused them to be the most tired and lethargic they have ever been

John Nolan-Neylan, CEO and Co-Founder of high-performance nutrition brand, Revvies, discusses how to keep teams energised and increase productivity during lockdown

The continued impacts Coronavirus has had on UK businesses and workplaces have been detrimental for both leaders and the workforce. The first national lockdown last spring saw millions of people forced to work from their homes; initially, this caused an increase in productivity with individuals continuing with jobs with a newfound vigour and passion. In fact, in September last year a study conducted by Talk Talk reported that more than half of workers – 58% – were more productive while working remotely. 

However, with the UK under its third nationwide lockdown and millions starting the new year off once again working from the confines of their home, Britain’s workers are starting to feel more fatigued, unmotivated and mentally drained than ever. Nationally representative research conducted by Revvies, has found that 37% of Brits claim their energy levels are the lowest they have ever been as they enter the new year, with another 37% claiming that working from home again has made them the most lethargic and tired they have ever been. 

Now more than ever, it has become important that we revitalise our workers, keeping them engaged and energised. Here, John Nolan-Neylan, Co-founder of Revvies, provides his top tips to boost productivity during lockdown:


1. Set and enforce work boundaries

Make sure to clearly communicate with your employees or employers. Laying out your values and limits are essential in making sure that a solid structure is in place; any concerns and issues can be raised efficiently without it affecting your personal time. With the boundaries of work and the home being separated by only a room due to Coronavirus restrictions, it is essential that you can take a step back and separate yourself from work in order to ensure that you don’t burn yourself out.

2. Be transparent and set goals

Transparency between worker and employee is essential.  Making sure to have clear and achievable goals will showcase your progression and will boost your energy levels. Manage your time and ask questions where need be- make sure you aren’t struggling in silence- often these feelings of uncertainty can put a hold on things which may result in higher stress levels.

3. Listen and empathise

These times are tough for everyone. If you notice an employee or colleague struggling with something, make sure you take the time to listen to their worries and empathise with them as much as possible. Lending an ear and helping them to share their feelings provides them with a sense of security and can even perk up their energy levels. 

John Nolan-Neylan, CEO and Co-Founder of Revvies:

“Our research highlights the dramatic negative impact this past year has had on our energy levels. COVID induced lockdowns have caused millions across the country to remain confined to their homes, limiting opportunities to be active. Now, as we kickstart the new year, it is more important than ever for us to find ways to help our employers and employees perk up, stay positive and use what opportunities we have to exercise and be active, during these tough times.

“Our energy levels affect every aspect of our day-to-day lives, be it our mood and mental wellbeing, how much we get done at work, or how able we are to exercise. It perhaps comes as a surprise that our energy levels have dropped as our activity has slowed down this year and it seems that people are now looking for alternatives to the traditional “go-to” cup of coffee or sugar-filled energy drinks. Revvies Energy Strips are a fantastic way to gain the energy you need to get going, and perform at your best – used by elite athletes and sportspeople across the globe. We are really proud to be able to offer the same, high-performance supplements to the average person looking to boost their energy levels and fight fatigue. It is the fastest and most convenient way to experience a great boost of energy, without the hassle and side effects of sugary energy drinks and gels.”

The European Countries That Have the Highest Rated National Parks

  • The country with the highest rated National Parks is Ukraine, with an average TripAdvisor score of 9.73 out of 10
  • Following just behind is Slovenia, with only 1 National Park to offer, it holds an average TripAdvisor rating of 9.72
  • Rounding off the top 10 is the United Kingdom, with an average TripAdvisor score of 9.45

It is no secret that Europe is home to some of the most beautiful sites of protected nature in the world; from thick forests to glistening lakes, taking a walk in one of these European National Parks will give you the ultimate fresh air fix.

Whether you are looking for the perfect Instagram backdrop or to discover beautiful unexplored parts of the world, the experts at SaveOnEnergy.com/uk conducted a study to uncover which country is home to the highest rated National Parks in Europe, according to TripAdvisor.

The Results

The country with the highest rated National Parks, with a total of 8 Parks and an average TripAdvisor score of 9.73, is Ukraine.

The Ukraine National Park with the highest rating is the Carpathian National Nature Park, established in 1980 to protect the landscapes of the Carpathian Mountains. This park is located in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and covers 515.7 km².

Following close behind is Slovenia! Although they have just 1 National Park to offer, the scenery is beautiful, resulting in an average TripAdvisor rating of 9.72.

This park will have you swiftly booking a flight to Slovenia after one Google search. The jaw dropping Triglav National Park covers 4% of Slovenian territory and is one of the largest national reserves in the whole of Europe.  

In third place, with 9 National Parks and an average TripAdvisor score of 9.69, is Slovakia.

In fourth place is Bulgaria with an average TripAdvisor score of 9.64, and in fifth place with an average Trip Advisor score of 9.60 is Switzerland.

Rounding off the top 10 is the United Kingdom, with 15 National Parks to offer and an average TripAdvisor score of 9.45.

In the UK, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has the highest Trip Advisor score at 9.73. This nature wonder is situated along the Pembrokeshire coast in West Wales and was established in 1952.

For more information on the National Parks from each country, please check out the blog post.

COVID-19’s Impact on Tech Companies: The Good and Bad

The expansive tech field weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than most. Public health measures changed worldwide work spaces, resulting in more reliance on technology. COVID-19’s impact on tech companies includes a few good and bad effects that may point to what the future holds.

Industry experts and clients can read the following changes to learn from the pandemic or craft a responsive business plan. Reflection is necessary for growth, so take a look back on how the industry responded to a once-in-a-lifetime global event.

Productivity Has Streamlined

In the pre-pandemic world, tech teams often had spontaneous meetings or brainstorming huddles. If people worked together and met frequently, it was supposed to improve their productivity. Employees and managers now realize that recurring meetings were a waste of time. Now, emails are a faster way to communicate with teams both small and large.

When most people began to work from home at the beginning of 2020, their varying schedules made it more challenging to get everyone together for a meeting. Writing constructive criticism and plans in an email is much more effective because everything’s in writing and easy to check if anyone has questions. People can work faster and more cohesively when they don’t waste time zoning out during in-person meetings.

Remote Work Presents New Burnout

Remote workers in the tech industry experience new burnout symptoms that might be difficult to spot. Instead of commuting to an eight-hour shift at the office, they work through lunch breaks or channel their pandemic-related stress into clocking more hours.

Living and working at home removes important boundaries that benefit mental health. Managers now have to check-in with their teams more regularly to ensure that everyone knows how to balance their work and personal lives in a changing world.

Reliance on Tech Has Increased

More people need personal computers and tablets to work from home. The dependence on home-based tech increased industry sales by 24% through 2020. Many of the new remote positions will exist after the pandemic, so tech companies have to prepare for continued higher demand for products and services.

It may result in hiring more in-house employees or needing more storage space for stocking inventory. Expanded teams and more sales mean businesses can remodel current commercial spaces to aid their growth. Companies that service tech problems or sell popular products should consider any needs that might come from this reliance on at-home tech.

In-Person Networking Has Slowed

Many tech companies began expansion plans and partnerships through in-person networking events. Those came to a screeching halt in 2020 and likely won’t return until late 2021, so virtual networking must continue.

This is mainly hurtful for startups and small tech businesses who need personal relationships within the community to bolster business. Still, people within the industry can learn to network virtually to make the best of this temporary situation. It could even connect them with the community if they participate in other local online events where possible future clients can discover them.

Look to the Future

COVID-19’s impact on tech companies resulted in good and bad changes. People in the field and interested consumers can learn from the adjustments. Everyone benefits from efforts like providing more virtual services and relying on innovative new technologies, but only if reflection points the way forward.

Majority of British Workers Prefer ‘New Normal’, As National lockdown Calls for ‘Home-Based’ Working

Covid-19 has presented a truly unforgiving blow to the current generation of UK SMEs, superseding any reasonable measure of risk/disaster management imaginable. The eventual fallout is yet unknown, but it is certain that a seismic shift in operational and cultural norms whilst we navigate and surpass COVID-19 has taken place, transforming the workplace well beyond the immediate implications of the virus.

With Tuesday’s announcement that England is being plunged back into a full nationwide lockdown for the foreseeable future, millions of British workers will now be returning to working from home. But despite thousands of offices remaining empty across the UK and many firms relying on temporary protections against eviction due to non-payment of rent,  over half of workforce do not want to go back to their normal pre-pandemic working environment.

Since the advent of the first national lockdown back in March 2020, we saw rapid, wholesale changes to daily life, up to and including the way in which the majority of the country’s workforce operates. With the exception of key workers, and workers in industries which cannot operate without the workforce on site, the British workforce was instructed to work remotely, triggering a dramatic transformation of working culture and forcing firms to rapidly adapt their working practices.

Theta Global Advisors – a chartered accountancy and consultancy firm specialising in freelance working options for the UK private sector – has released the first nationally representative survey across over 2,000 UK adults looking into the sentiments of the UK workforce towards the ‘new normal’ in working conditions, and has revealed a clear sentiment in support of flexible working and working from home throughout the Coronavirus and beyond:

Key stats

  • Two-thirds of working Brits (65%) report that commuting in the pandemic is the most stressful part of the day
  • 57% of people do not want to go back to the normal way of working in an office environment with normal office hours
  • Nearly half of all UK business leaders (45%) believe that the working environment will change for the better due to the virus and lockdowns


It is clear, then, that there is a strong desire from both the UK workforce and business leaders to stick with the ‘new normal’ way of working, with over half of employees not wanting to return to work as they did before and 45% of business leaders seeing the benefits of the new environment brought on by the COVID lockdown period.

Despite this, an alarming number of workers have reported that their employer hasn’t explored flexible working options. Almost a quarter (24%) of Brits say their employer hasn’t explored any flexible working options despite the effect of the pandemic. As the nation heads back into lockdown, more needs to be done by many firms to offer their workers a flexible, safe and productive working environment, and companies that are reluctant to change their rigid and somewhat outdated approaches to work will likely be in for a long-term decline.

From the removal of the commute to boosted productivity and a more flexible approach to one’s schedule, there are numerous benefits to flexible working that the pandemic has uncovered for millions of employees – something which over half of the UK workforce appears to have uncovered. Yet there are also a number of advantages to be gained by the adaptable and flexible employer amidst the third national lockdown.

Allowing employees to work from home can dramatically reduce overhead expenditure, enabling companies to downsize their office spaces and dramatically reduce office and equipment expenses, not to mention bills. Furthermore, offering a truly flexible schedule and embracing the changing conditions rather than fighting against them will likely result in an increase in employee job satisfaction thereby reducing turnover. Not only will this contribute to a more enjoyable and prosperous working environment (thereby increasing productivity), but will also mean less time and money spent advertising for open positions, screening, interviewing and hiring new staffers and bringing them up to speed on job responsibilities. Conducting virtual meetings and facilitating communication electronically helps protect the environment through reduced automobile emissions.

It is understandable that many business leaders and employers would be wary of introducing flexible working and relinquishing the control they have maintained over their on-site employees for the overwhelming majority of their time in the business. While any major shift in working cultures and processes will be accompanied by some growing pains, it is clear that the future of working is indeed flexible.

Business leaders would do well to realise that the ‘new normal’ of flexible, remote working is here to stay, and should adapt now to pivot their business, remove unnecessary overheads and commit to a plan for a post-COVID future.

New Degree Combining Sustainability with Finance Launched by Top Business School

BI Norwegian Business School has launched an interdisciplinary MSc in Sustainable Finance as sustainability is becoming a core concern for investors, companies, and civil society. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance plays an increasingly critical role in attracting capital, in responding to owners and stakeholders demands, and in complying with emerging regulatory requirements.

The new programme is designed to prepare students for positions at the intersection of finance and sustainability, as well as traditional finance or business careers. The programme covers issues related to global sustainable development, climate change and corporate environmental and social responsibility with strong general management, quantitative and finance skills.

Associate dean of the programme, Professor Bruno Gerard, says,

“ESG factors have become increasingly important in the financial industry and are rapidly becoming a vital part of the investment process. Students looking for a career in finance need to learn how ESG issues affect financial management and how financial constraints can limit or support action towards sustainability. By studying sustainable finance, students will be able to meet this increasing need for expertise in both finance and sustainability.”

Students will gain knowledge of the core areas of business administration and understand the central role of finance in the global economy and in the adoption of sustainable technologies and practices. Upon completing the programme, graduates will be able to analyse, assess, and balance ESG and sustainability risks and rewards against traditional financial risk and returns in the context of corporate investments and valuation.

The new programme starts in August 2021 with courses on the programme including microeconomics, mathematics, and ethics and sustainability in organisations, among others.

Nearly 1 in 4 Small Business Owners Now Won’t Buy Presents For Loved Ones This Christmas

Nearly a quarter of business owners (23%) will not buy any Christmas gifts for their family and friends this year as the pandemic takes its toll on plans across the UK. 

  • 23% of business owners will not purchase Christmas gifts for their family and friends this Christmas 
  • 1 in 6 business owners (16%) set to work on Christmas Day 
  • Nearly half of female business owners (47%) and a third of male business owners (35%) are concerned they’ll have to close in 2021 

Christmas and working hours

The research, undertaken by one of Europe’s largest small business lenders, iwoca, also found that of the business owners who are parents, over a third (35%) will not buy presents “at the same level as pre-pandemic” for their children this year. As for working hours, whilst many across the UK will have some time off over Christmas, small business owners are having to work overtime, with research revealing that 1 in 6 will work on Christmas Day this year (16%), and 1 in 3 on Boxing Day (31%). Even for business owners who are parents, 1 in 10 will work all five days over the holiday period – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Nearly half of female business owners concerned they will close business in 2021 

Research suggests that female business owners may be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as nearly half (47%) worry they’ll have to close their businesses in 2021, compared to just over a third (35%) of men. 

The holiday period could also be tougher for female-led businesses. iwoca’s research shows that they plan on working more hours and spending less time with their families this year to compensate for the adverse effects of Covid-19 on their businesses. Just under a third (32%) of women are planning to work extra hours compared to a quarter of male business owners. Christmas is usually a time when families can come together, however 41% of female business owners report they’ll spend less time with their families this Christmas to focus on their businesses, with a similar percentage (39%) of male business owners feeling the same. 

Daiga Ozolniece, owner of Birmingham based beauty salon – Adelaine Beauty Ltd: “We don’t know how we’re going to survive. It’s very possible we’ll have to close down in January. It all depends on the Christmas period. My family will spend this Christmas without me. I’ll be sitting in my salon until the last minute, waiting for clients. I’ll work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day – every day. Every penny counts. There are no presents this year – none at all. We’re barely coping with the bills.

“It’s a hard time for everybody now, but it’s especially tough for beauticians. People aren’t going out anymore so they don’t go and get their lashes or nails done. Walk-in clients are not allowed under the government rules, but the beauty industry relies on them. Supermarkets are busy because people can just walk in – my salon is empty because you need to book. The rules are not equal. Beauticians are having to go and work in factories because they can’t survive – it’s that bad.” 

Seema Desai, Chief Operating Officer of iwoca added: “Christmas itself will of course be different for all of us, but it’s even more concerning that so many business owners are worried that they may not have a business to go back to in 2021. Christmas won’t be an easy time for many business owners this year as they juggle to keep their businesses afloat whilst some will try to spend quality time with their families or loved ones.”  

Iwoca has now distributed over £160 million through the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and in June launched iwocaPay an online buy now pay later invoice checkout to help small businesses get paid on time.

WFH Hollywood Edition: How COVID-19 Has Affected the Film Industry

Throughout 2020, we’ve seen drastic changes to many industries, from fashion to film. While some roles have become undoable, others have been able to adapt to a remote setup, causing entire jobs and processes to be completely reimagined. 

In the film industry, there have been some successes and some huge losses. As the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many confined to their homes, online streaming rocketed this year. In the first three months of 2020 alone, Netflix gained almost 16 million new subscribers, and according to a study from Conviva, we’re collectively streaming more than ever before this year. 

The demand for new films and TV shows is clearly there, but how has COVID-19 affected the film industry? Are filmmakers, actors, animators, and costume designers able to keep up with this ever-increasing demand?

Animating from home 

Although big blockbuster films have had to halt production for much of 2020, there are still many roles within the film industry that have been able to make the shift to remote working. Animation is one of these areas. DreamWorks TV showrunner Jack Thomas said: “That’s the thing about animation: You can do a lot of it remotely.” 

As animation is one of the only sectors that hasn’t been forced to shut down during the pandemic, the future of film and TV is set to be more animated than ever. As casting director for Disney Jen Rudin explains: “It’s truly the one thing we can all do while we’re at home.” 

Final touches

Similar to jobs in animation, roles that revolve around putting together the final touches for films and TV shows have remained possible during the pandemic. We may not be able to start brand new projects which would need a lot of people to be present on set, but adding the final touches to films that were planned for release this year or in 2021 has remained possible throughout the duration of 2020. On the other side of things, companies are also able to work on pre-shoot work, including prep for special effects for upcoming blockbusters. 

Costume designer woes 

Although some areas of the film industry have been able to work remotely and continue to meet high streaming demands, others have found the pandemic impossible to work through. The fashion and costume side to film and TV production has suffered during 2020, with many A-list costume designers finding themselves completely out of work for months. 

Again, film-prep is the only area that designers are still able to be involved in. However, with the ever-growing uncertainty about when regular and safe filming can continue, many freelance designers are left in limbo between projects. Ruth E. Carter, who is set to design the costumes for Black Panther 2, said that: “All of us as freelancers know that there’s going to be a period of time where we’re not working. That just comes with the territory. And those of us who have just finished [projects] have the luxury of having built-up savings. But for those who are just starting out, this is a difficult time.” 

 

The future of red-carpet fashion 

As red-carpet events have largely migrated to the Zoom screen this year, red carpet fashion is another area of the film and TV industry that has taken a big hit. For many A-list actors, red carpet fashion and their ability to influence trends is almost as major a part of their job as starring in films and TV shows. In addition, the lack of red-carpet events has had a big impact on fashion designers, leaving them with little opportunity to reveal their new outfits to the world. 

However, like with other areas of the entertainment industry, creative and remote opportunities are still available. Stylists and designers alike have adapted swiftly to online roles, with outfits being fitted over Zoom and stylist consultations going digital. The stylist to Shakira and Sofia Carson, Nicolas Bru, said: “Everything came to a halt suddenly, and my work went from in-person fittings and events to virtual ones. This is new territory for all of us, so we’re all having to adapt, which gives us this sense of unity, knowing that we are all in this together and trying to find the appropriate way to move forward.”

Much is the case with other industries – the world of movies and entertainment has been forced to adapt and evolve over the turbulent course of 2020. However, the creative strategies that many have been able to put in place give us hope for the future of film and TV in a post-pandemic world. 

Remote Working Trend Sees Rise In Londoners Moving North

  • Manchester-based build to rent development Duet Salford Quays reports a 159% increase in website visits in October 2020 compared to the previous year
  • Increasing acceptance of working from home is thought to be driving a surge in Londoners relocating to the North
  • The two-hour journey between London and Manchester makes commuting easy

As costs to live in London continue to rise and remote working becomes the norm, the trend in people moving to the North of England for more affordable and comfortable living shows no signs of slowing.

With the population of Manchester’s city centre set to double in the next five years, the newest Build to Rent (BTR) development in MediaCityUK, Duet Salford Quays, has seen traffic to its Manchester-based lettings website rise significantly since the start of the pandemic, with the rate of London-based web users increasing by 189% in October 2020, compared to the same month the previous year.

Duet’s market analysts believe the growing prevalence of the work from home movement could be driving the demand, as the need to work from central London offices continues to dwindle and of course the lower cost of northern living has long been a pull for residents of the capital.

2020 studies suggest that consumer prices in Manchester are now 15% cheaper than London and with a major difference in living costs between the two cities, combined with the increased need for remote working, it’s no surprise that Londoners are being drawn north for a better quality of life.

The average rent of a two-bedroom flat in London’s Canary Wharf comes in at £2,300pcm while rent at Duet Salford Quays, which many believe to be Manchester’s answer to Canary Wharf, costs as little as £1,080pcm for a two-bed apartment.

A 28-day Metrolink tram ticket for unlimited travel between zones 1-3 in Manchester costs just £84.20. In London however, travelling on the tube twice a day at peak times for 28 days between zones 1-3 costs more than double this amount, at roughly £184.80, and this cost excludes any additional weekend or leisure travel.

Beyond the difference in rent and the travel costs in the two cities, the ease of transport from Manchester to surrounding cities, such as Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, adds an additional incentive for Londoners and businesses looking to make the move up north.  

Manchester, England’s northern powerhouse, has also seen a boom in business in the last decade following the relocation of major tech firms and broadcast houses, such as the BBC and ITV, to Manchester’s MediaCityUK. These businesses are likely to have been amongst the first to see the trend and take advantage of Manchester as a cost effective city for living and working.

Jay Hofman, aged 33, a Data Activist who relocated from London to Manchester’s Duet Salford Quays in August 2020, comments: “I’ve spent years living all over the world, from Europe to London to LA and finally decided it was time to find somewhere to settle.

“Between so many major tech firms moving to Manchester, having friends here, the great music and social scene and the overall cost of living, the city felt like the perfect fit. I was paying £2,500 for a two bed flat in Canary Warf and I was worried that I might miss that aspect of living in London, but actually living by Salford Quays is really reminiscent of Canary Warf – although the water is a lot cleaner here!

“My apartment in Duet is also exactly what I wanted, I ran an algorithm with certain criteria to help me pick areas and apartment buildings that met my needs and I really haven’t been disappointed. The décor and furniture in the flat are my style exactly and it’s great having a view out over the communal garden. I’m a big fan of having an onsite gym and the Duet App is really helpful. 

“The easy access routes into the city, as well as being on the doorstep of MediaCityUK, make Manchester a great city to call home at last. With everything I need for my work at Duet, like communal working spaces, high speed WiFi and bookable conference rooms, it just makes living and working so much easier and I wonder why I spent so many years putting up with the cramped living spaces of London apartments.”

BTR apartment buildings, like Duet, are designed for renters who have busy working lives but also want to enjoy where they live. With community events, an onsite gym and garden, green living initiatives and pet friendly apartments, Duet is designed to meet the needs of its residents.

Dougie Orton-Wade, General Manager at Duet Salford Quays, commented: “Manchester is an amazing city, with so much to do and see – it really is the heart of the North – and we’re so proud at Duet to be located here. Seeing the rise in website traffic from people living in London just goes to show that Manchester has a lot to offer, not just to locals, but for those currently living in other parts of the UK too.

“With excellent transport links to London, just over two hours on the train, the rise in remote working is letting people live excellent and affordable lifestyles while still venturing to and from the capital with ease when needed.”

Duet is a new More. Build to Rent development of 270 premium apartments located in MediaCityUK. At 15 storeys tall, it is the latest addition to the city’s skyline. It was delivered by Moorfield Group on behalf of funds under management, working with developer Glenbrook Property, and is professionally managed by specialist rental operator, Allsop.

Duet is the most recent More. BTR scheme delivered by Moorfield, following The Trilogy on Ellesmere Street, which opened in April 2019 and is now fully occupied and The Forge in Newcastle, which opened in September 2018.

Italian Coachbuilder ARES Opens Dubai Studio

•     Italian coachbuilder ARES opens the doors to its Dubai studio

•     The first of six new premises for the Italian atelier

•     250 square meter facility presents the ultimate in bespoke automotive design

Luxury Italian coachbuilder ARES has celebrated the opening of its Dubai studio this week, a move that marks the roll-out of the company’s six stunning personalisation studios across Europe and the UAE.

Located at Gate 4 of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) the 250 square meter studio is the first of six new premises that the luxury Italian atelier will be opening in the coming three weeks. In addition to the Dubai site, the company will be presenting its vehicles in studios at St Moritz, Kitzbühel, Munich, Zurich and its home-town of Modena.

The studios will provide customers with an immersive brand experience and unparalleled customer service; as the Italian company showcases its coachbuilding skills, artisanal craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology.

Historically, the coachbuilder has only presented its vehicles at prestigious events such as Italy’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the Monte Carlo Yacht Show, and Salon Privé in the UK and the openings of its global studios mark a significant milestone for the company.

Like all the studios, the luxurious Dubai venue will play a vital role in the company’s Co-Create philosophy, where both collectors, connoisseurs, customers and designers can work hand-in-hand to build bespoke one-off vehicles – an offering unique to ARES.  When designing a car, patrons will have a choice of exquisite finishes and colour palettes to choose from, alongside the finest leathers and carbon fibre interiors, paint finishes, trims and luxurious fabrics.

Founded six years ago and headquartered at its 23,000 square metre facility in Modena Italy, the company employs 150 engineers, designers and artisans. Fusing artisanal craftsmanship and modern-day technology creating and hand-building bespoke one-off and limited-series vehicles for customers from around the world.

Commenting on the new openings CEO and Co-founder Dany Bahar said: “These openings mark a significant point in ARES’ development. We are proud to take ARES and its Made in Italy marque to our customers and look forward to our continued expansion. Over the years, ARES has built an incredible reputation with a remarkable team of passionate, industry-leading experts to deliver an extraordinary experience to its customers from around the world. We are very proud and excited to bring this experience to life in the UAE and Europe and let more people experience the brand first-hand.”

Chairman and Co-Founder Waleed Al Ghafari commented: “As a young company, we have experienced significant growth quickly and this is now the expected next step forward in our development. At ARES, we are not only committed to investing in our facilities and workforce in Modena but to also establish our presence in key markets which will underpin our business and support its long-term growth. Opening this studio is a very proud moment for ARES and marks the next point of the company’s development.”

Five Ways to Boost Ecommerce Packaging Performance

The pandemic has been a catalyst for change, way beyond our expectations. Ecommerce has been propelled to new heights, with online order volumes swamping conventional fulfillment centres. Now, as a second wave sweeps the country, are businesses ready for the predicted mega-peaks of a Covid Christmas? By Jo Bradley, Business Development Manager for packaging solutions at Quadient.

The Centre for Retail Research expects ecommerce sales in Western Europe (UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and Spain) to reach £294Bn in 2020, against a pre-Covid forecast of £249Bn. This represents a growth of +31% in a single year, giving online a 16.2% share of total retail sales in 2020.

Indications are that ecommerce peaks this Christmas will be even more extreme than usual. Research from Klarna and Retail Economics has found that 71% of British consumers are reluctant to shop in store in the lead up to Christmas, with 56% saying they expect to do more online shopping this year.

So, how are online retailers going to cope with this sudden and protracted shift in demand for goods purchased over the net?

Leading into the Christmas period, most ecommerce operations take on additional staff to match demand, but a shortage of available labour, exacerbated by Brexit and a diminishing pool of migrant workers – coupled with the constraints imposed by social distancing requirements – has created a ‘perfect storm’ for ecommerce businesses.

Many retailers with a busy online channel will need to ask themselves the question: Is a conventional, heavily manual approach to preparing orders for dispatch still fit for purpose?

Fulfilling an ecommerce order has always been thought of as an inherently labour intensive activity, involving large teams of pickers and packers. But in the packing area advanced fit-to-size automated packaging technology is transforming operational performance, overcoming many of the obstacles presented by the Covid crisis and providing businesses with significant gains on sustainability, cost reduction, and customer experience.

Here are five key points to consider when adopting automation in the packaging area:

1. Increase capacity – be ‘peak ready’

The traditional, manual, approach to packing has been significantly challenged by three key factors.

Firstly, following Brexit, available labour resources are no longer as easy to access in many areas of the country. Secondly, the National Living Wage, applicable to all employees over 25 years old, has risen to £8.72. And thirdly, with the outbreak of COVID-19, social distancing requirements within the warehouse present a major headache for organisations.

If peak volumes are set to rise then packaging performance will need to be radically improved. Bringing in large teams of people at peak is simply no longer a viable option.

Greater use of automation in the packing area will help. But simple, size-constrained machines using only one-size of box does not cater for the wide variety of products and order sizes experienced by most online retailers. If demand for smaller items to be packed exceeds the capacity of the relevant machine, the shipper has no option but to move up a box size, or two, leading to wasteful use of materials and extra shipping costs. A more flexible approach is needed.

Using fit-to-size auto-boxing technology, such as Quadient’s CVP Everest, one machine can flexibly handle a wide variety of order sizes, creating a perfect-size box for each order at a rate of up to 1,100 packages per hour. Operating consistently and reliably at these speeds, such a machine has the potential to replace between 20-30 packing desks, offering a rapid ROI.

2. Build in sustainability

Oversized packaging is wasteful. More cardboard is used, void-fill is necessary and fewer packages are carried per trailer, leading to excessive CO2 emissions and higher fuel, material and carriage costs. Making each individual package to the exact size needed better protects the item in transit – without the need for void fill – minimises cardboard usage, saves resources and reduces shipping costs.

Using advanced 3D scanning technology, Quadient’s CVP Everest perfect-size packaging system scans and measures an item, or group of items, to be packed and calculates the ‘best fit’ box shape and size. Material for the box and lid is cut and creased to size, erected around the item(s) and the lid glue-sealed – which is faster and more recyclable than using tape. Parcels are then automatically weighted, labelled and away.

By consistently making each box to the exact dimensions needed to hold the item(s) firmly, goods are better protected and package volumes can be reduced by up to 50%, cutting cardboard usage by 20% and eliminating the need for void fill. The savings on materials are significant in themselves.

3. Reduce shipping costs

Shipping air serves no purpose it simply increases cost unnecessarily and negatively impacts the environment. Over-sized packages contribute directly to more vehicles on the road, pollution, congestion and greater shipping expenses. The larger the box, the fewer can fit into a trailer.

Until fairly recently carriage charges for domestic deliveries were based on a parcel charge with maximum weight and dimensions per parcel, so there was on incentive to use a smaller box as fresh air moved for free. That is changing. Many of the larger carriers and couriers have moved to a dual system whereby carriage is charged at a rate based on actual weight or ‘volumetric’ or ‘dimensional’ weight, whichever is the greater. Consequently, size really does matter.

Tailor-making a perfectly sized box, specifically for each order is now, not only possible, but also readily available at speeds of up to 1,100 packages per hour. And Quadient technology, in the form of the CVP Everest or the CVP Impack, makes it entirely feasible to maximise the cube of a trailer by reducing package volumes by up to 50%. One major retailer now gets 60 boxes on a pallet as opposed to 30, saving the business a trailer a day – a significant cost saving over a year.

4. Increase operational efficiency

Automation in the form of fit-to-size packing systems can remove the need for between 20-30 packing desks, freeing up valuable and increasingly scarce labour resources for other more value adding duties. In addition, the capacity to produce high volumes of perfectly-sized packages at speed can reduce the stress of having to find additional labour at peak – a process that often requires early planning and exposure to risk. Fit-to-size automation enables you to be peak ready and fully equipped for future growth.

5. Enhance the customer experience

Consumers are increasingly disgruntled by wasteful packaging – oversized boxes filled with expanded polystyrene, bubble wrap and other forms of void fill. This is reflected in a ‘Which?’ survey where 48% of customers agree that “excessive packaging is one of the most annoying things about online shopping”. Survey evidence also suggests that customers feel more positively about brands that are trying to reduce unnecessary packaging.

How a package is received is all part of the brand experience. Perfectly sized packaging protects items in transit better, leading to fewer breakages, and less packaging for the customer to dispose of in the recycling bin. The ‘unboxing experience’ is all about presentation – it can play a significant part in a customer’s perception of the product and a positive unboxing experience is more likely to lead to further orders.

Fit-to-size packaging technology is transforming ecommerce packing performance. For more information, please visit: www.packagingbyquadient.com

Most Environmentally Focussed Oil Company 2020 – Germany & Most Innovative Oil Deposit System 2020: Rebottle

Since its inception as a business, Tippoil Manufacturer has developed and worked hard to formulate a wide range of mineral and synthetic oils for its clients. Whether in the field of cars, trucks, construction machines, or industrial machines, Tippoil always has what the client is looking for, with specialisms in engine, transmission, hydraulic, compressor, turbine, industrial, and special oils. Complemented perfectly by a talented team of skilful and committed individuals, the work that Tippoil does is as outstanding as the oils themselves. It has made its mission to act in an environmentally-friendly manner, assuming climate-conscious responsibility and delivery excellence quality regardless of its environmental responsibilities. These core corporate ethical values are taken into account when dealing with each other, with business partners, and with customers. Action and thoughts are always based on the fundamental values of the company’s independence and responsibility, and that has defined the firm’s success over a number of years.

Oil is a massive industry, and has been for a long time. What, therefore, separates Tippoil from the competition? Firstly, the Rebottle Deposit system is a key part of that. Given that environmental protection is a corporate responsibility of everyone at Tippoil, the firm understands the problem of disposal that comes along with the production of plastic to hold the oils it produces. The polymeric components of the plastics are not water soluble on the one hand, and on the other, they are not able to pass through the cell membranes of micro-organisms. Rebottle is used worldwide as the first deposit system. The core element of the Rebottle system is sustainability. Tippoil carefully considered how, as a lubricant manufacturer, it could deal more responsibly with the topic of the environment, and do something about it that can be integrated into everyday life.

In the spring of 2020, the world was shocked and hit hard when the COVID-19 pandemic swept its way across Europe, devastating businesses and causing many people to put their plans on hold. Economically, the continent suffered due to a variety of restrictions, and it remains a major global issue today. Fortunately today, economic development has now stabilised in many industrial sectors and has been able to resume normal operations. As a result, the demand for Tippoil, and it’s especially demanding and high-performance lubricants has increased noticeably. So much so, that the firm itself was able to start back into normal operation from September.

Tippoil also boasts a modern approach to selling its oils, with a company homepage and online store where customers can find out a lot of information about the firm and its wide range of products. In the B2B sector of commercial products in the export trade, Tippoil also keeps ready an extensive range of mineral and synthetic oils. Whether in the field of passenger cars, trucks, motorcycles, construction machinery, or industrial machinery, Tippoil stands ready to assist. Quality is important for every customer, as oil is a key component for everyday things we use such as cars, and their engines are incredibly important.

For this reason, Tippoil ensures that all of its oil products are rigorously tested by laboratories around the county, each of which carefully examines the product to guarantee its quality and standard. A further rule of thumb can be found in the laboratory analyses, even when used in sensitive areas, for example. Should a Tippoil product be used on grounds or roads and end up in nature, the firm has made sure that those oils are biodegradable, further cementing its promise to be environmentally-friendly. Ultimately, Tippoil is a firm that has worked to make the impossible, possible. Making oil environmentally friendly is no easy feat, and yet this German firm has achieved it with incredible aplomb. It deserves every success, and we are proud to feature the firm here today.

Covid Pandemic Leads to Deterioration of UK Payment Practices

Late payments have escalated since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, reveals the latest UK Payment Practices Barometer by leading trade credit insurer Atradius.

The new Atradius report reveals that nearly half the value of Business to Business (B2B) bills are being paid late, while half of the businesses surveyed have been hit by revenue loss and for every £100 of products or services sold, £8 is written off as noncollectable

Sales on credit
The Atradius UK Payment Practices Barometer reports as much as 60% of the total value of B2B sales in the UK are made on credit with 43% of businesses increasing the amount of sales made on credit by one third since the pandemic began. The primary reason for offering credit is to stimulate sales in the domestic market, reported by two thirds (65%) of businesses. A quarter (24%) of businesses said they grant credit to stay competitive but more than one in 10 (11%) said they did so to provide a source of short-term finance to B2B customers. However, more than a third (38%) of businesses said they had needed to turn down requests for trade credit due to a worsening in customer payment behaviour.

Late payments rise
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the proportion of late payments has increased. UK businesses report 47% of the total value of invoices are paid late. This is a significant increase of 81% compared to pre-pandemic levels when 26% of invoices by value were paid late. Nearly half (45%) of businesses also now report waiting an average of 20 days longer to turn overdue invoices into cash; longer than just 14 days last year.

Risk of non-payment
UK businesses report 5% of the total value of receivables was still outstanding at 90 days. However, the longer receivables remain unpaid, the lower likelihood there is of collecting them with businesses losing an average of 63% of the value of receivables which were not paid by the 90-day mark. Worryingly, as much as 8% of the total value of receivables was written off as noncollectable since the onset of the pandemic; equating to £8 in every £100 billed.
The Atradius Payment Practices Barometer found half of UK businesses experienced revenue loss following the onset of the pandemic and more than a third (39%) reported cash flow difficulties as a result of increased payment defaults.

Pandemic changes payment terms
The economic climate since the Covid-19 pandemic began has prompted extensions in payment terms with more businesses offering customers longer to pay. Nearly half (48%) of businesses surveyed have granted extended payment terms, giving their customers an average of 30 extra days to pay. While last year, 91% offered maximum 30 day payment terms, during the pandemic this dropped to 78%, with 14% offering terms of 31-60 days (up from 8% last year) and 4% offering 61-90 days (up from 1% last year). And while last year no businesses reported offering terms of over 90 days, during the pandemic 4% admitted they had done so.
The main reason cited for lengthening payment terms was to encourage sales on the domestic market (36% of businesses) while a quarter (25%) did so to provide short-term financing for customers in financial distress. However, Atradius warns this approach can be risky as businesses may incur financial and administrative costs by tying up their money in receivables.

Business response
To avoid liquidity shortages, nearly half (48%) of businesses increased time, cost and resource to collect outstanding invoices while more than a third (39%) reported more frequently sourcing customer credit information to assess creditworthiness. Nearly half (49%) of businesses now send more frequent outstanding invoice reminders while nearly two-thirds (64%) offer discounts for early payments, while 46% plan to use credit insurance to protect themselves from non-payment.

Outlook
Although the pandemic inevitably creates uncertainty for recovery and future growth, respondents to the survey indicate that business optimism prevails. At least half of the UK businesses surveyed believe customer creditworthiness will improve next year and more than half (55%) expect the domestic economy to improve, while 48% expect improvement in the global economy. 51% anticipate international trade to grow next year. However, despite these levels of optimism, concerns over the pandemic and consequent recession remain in particular the potential threat to business profitability. 43% predict a fall in demand will be the greatest challenge to business profitability next year while 39% believe the challenge will be centred on maintaining adequate cash flow.

James Burgess, Head of Commercial for Atradius UK, commented:
“The Covid-19 pandemic arrived at a time when the business community in the UK was already working hard to accommodate the challenges and uncertainties posed by Brexit. For some industries, such as retail and automotive, the lockdowns and disruptions to supply chains have added further stress to sectors that were already grappling with structural challenges, such as migration towards online shopping and electric vehicles respectively.

“While the Barometer indicates a degree of optimism within the business community, the next six months present a critical time for firms across all sectors. While uncertainty surrounding the progression and consequences of the pandemic continue to weigh heavily we are also now close to December 31 and the end of the Brexit transition period. Businesses will need to be prepared for further challenges and take steps to protect their receivables while also seizing opportunities to trade and grow.”

61% of UK consumers foresee the end of the high street

The UK’s high streets are collapsing in front of us.

With the news of the collapse of the Arcadia Group, Debenhams and Bonmarche hitting the headlines, the future of the UK’s high streets has never looked more uncertain.

It’s therefore not surprising that 61% of Brits are worried that the high street as we know it is at risk of disappearing, with store closures permanently changing the retail landscape, according to research.

Certainly, shops have been some of the biggest economic casualties of the pandemic. Following the second lockdown and now the prospect of the majority of us living under on-going restrictions under the tier system, the outlook for the high street is increasingly bleak.

So what does the future hold for our town centres?

From surveying 1,000 consumers in the UK, KIS unearthed some interesting findings including:

• 61% of Brits are worried the high street will disappear completely in the next ten years due to the ever increasing number of big-name store closures.

• Fashion, food, beverage and value brands are predicted to be the biggest victims of the high street due to online competition.

• Convenience is a key factor that affects our shopping habits.

Whilst the high street has been in decline for many years, the problem has accelerated at an alarming rate this year. According to research by The Local Data Company and PWC, the first half of 2020 saw over 11,000 outlets shut, which is double the amount for the same time last year.

Of course the pandemic has been the final nail in the coffin for many retailers, with the increasing popularity of online shopping intensified by the Covid restrictions.

Online sales soar to new heights

In February this year 19% of all UK retail sales were online, which represented a substantial increase over the last 10 years, as back in 2010 only 8.5% of purchases were made online. However the impact of the pandemic is clear to see, as by May this year 32.8% of sales were online. This fell slightly when the first lockdown restrictions were eased in the summer but has remained around 28%, still a substantial increase compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Shopping habits look set to change for good

Worryingly for stores, and the vast majority of us who will be sad to see the high street go, the habit of shopping online looks set to be the norm in future for many people. 87% of the UK now shop online, the highest compared to other European nations and even higher than North America where 84% of the population shop this way. In fact during the pandemic the UK has spent an additional £5.4 billion online.

With recent research finding that 66% of people don’t think the Government has done a good job in managing the pandemic, it’s also likely that many may continue to avoid physical shops due to fear of infection, in which case the domination of online sales looks set to continue.

Why are so many consumers choosing the online option?

Convenience has always been one of the benefits of online shopping with 64% of those in our survey stating that this was the key reason that they chose to shop this way.

It’s this desire for ease that is behind the phenomenal success of Amazon. With many customers placing convenience at the top of their priorities, the impact on both large and small physical retailers is devastating. In fact the success of Amazon is clearly one of the key factors behind the demise of so many outlets.

Why has Amazon had such a devastating impact on our high streets?

The unprecedented growth of Amazon over recent years has certainly had a massive impact on our shopping habits, which has in turn contributed to the decline of many traditional retailers.

Why is their business strategy so successful?

Amazon’s mission is to enter and disrupt new markets, with the aim of dominating them, leading to many smaller retailers being pushed out. With 90% of us now turning to Amazon it’s hardly surprising that their profits have tripled during the pandemic. With so much money behind them it’s easy for Amazon to absorb initial losses in order to penetrate a new market and savagely undercut existing providers.

Amazon have successfully mastered the approach of being second to market, which has enabled them to copy what others have done and then utilise the Amazon infrastructure to undercut on price and speed. Certainly their speed of delivery has given sales a real boost during both lockdowns, attracting customers away from other online retailers who simply can’t compete.

Their ability to cross-subsidise in this way clearly gives them an unfair advantage over other retailers, as does their ability to minimise their tax liabilities in the UK. In fact in the last year their UK revenues increased by 35% whilst their tax bill only rose by 3%.

They even undercut their own sellers!

Amazon’s success in launching their own brand of products has even seen them undercutting other retailers selling on the Amazon platform. In fact Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos had to answer questions from Congress in the USA over whether they were using 3rd party sellers’ data to develop their own products.
The European Commission is also charging Amazon with ‘illegally abusing its dominant position’. The long term risk of this level of market dominance is that consumers are likely to see a reduction in choice and ultimately an increase in prices over time.

Job losses in the retail sector hitting an all-time high

Recent data by the Centre for Retail Research has revealed that 140,437 jobs have already been lost in retail in the UK this year, with the total predicted to reach 235,704 by the end of the year. The impact of this will be felt across the economy for years as people struggle to find alternative employment.
In comparison Amazon, who’s operations are largely automated, only expect to create 7000 new jobs in the UK, which will barely make any impact on the overall picture or go anyway to helping the UK economy recover.

So what needs to change if the high street is going to survive?

One trend that has emerged during the pandemic is the desire by many consumers to support local businesses. Whilst many of the big names are finding themselves in trouble, smaller independent retailers are stepping up and adapting their offering to fill the gap. Some have developed home delivery and online options for the first time which has helped them to reach a wider customer base.

We spoke to retail expert James Child, retail analyst at Estate Gazette, about this shifting pattern towards shopping local. James said : “There has been a swell of goodwill for both retailers and community groups that have come together during these difficult times. Consumers will be more aware of the potential of local shopping than they perhaps may have been previously.”

Certainly, the desire for a sense of community appears to be strong at a time of great uncertainty and local retailers need to really tap into that now and find ways to maintain a loyal shopping base as we eventually move out of the pandemic.
Local retailers need to adapt to meet customer needs
James says: “Customers are as loyal to businesses and stores as they are to brands. Tapping into this has always been paramount to success, the current conditions have allowed these retailers to showcase their offer.

In order to maximize this during this relative window of opportunity, these retailers shouldn’t always need to replicate what larger retailers do, as it’s their differences that often set them apart.

Increasingly people are willing to pay a little more to support local stores. I believe this trend will continue in a post COVID-19 UK, especially for those with disposable income.”

What does the future hold for the high street?

If independent businesses can adapt to changing shopping habits and demands then the high street may well survive, albeit in a different form to what we are all use to.

As James says: “Whilst it is true that consumers will be ready to spend, it is worth remembering the psychological impact that months of lockdown will have had on shopping and leisure habits. People may be more sceptical about spending time in busy enclosed spaces like shopping centres, but local high streets may be a more attractive proposition.”

High streets may become central to the community again

Holly Andrews, Managing Director at KIS Finance says: “As many large retail outlets close we may see a continuation of the pattern over recent years of vacant properties switching to residential use.

Certainly, there has been an increase in applications for bridging loans for those wanting to convert shops and offices into residential units. With the changes to the UK planning system proposed by the Government, the process of converting empty retail space into much needed housing could be one way to bring people back into central locations.

For this transition to work high streets need to find ways to reinvent themselves to remain a relevant space at the heart of our communities.”

EU Business News Q4 2020

Welcome to the Q4 edition of EU Business News, providing you with all of the latest, news, features and informative pieces from across the European Union.

As 2020 draws to a close, businesses from every sector are putting their plans into motion for the new year, hoping to either embrace 2021 and the opportunities that may arise or further build on the success they have had during this unique year.

In this edition, we take a closer look at a number of businesses from a vast selection of industries, as well as some interesting research recently conducted to find out more about what the future has in store. From advice about preparing your company for Brexit to recent initiatives regarding climate change and even tips about how to ensure office safety for when many of us return back to work, this issue is filled with a delightful selection of pieces for you to enjoy.

Here at EU Business News, we hope that you enjoy this insightful edition, and wish you a fantastic Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

The EU competition regime for vertical agreements: (high) time for a digital update?

The European Commission (“Commission”) is reviewing the application of EU competition law to distribution, purchasing and other so-called ‘vertical’ agreements given that the current regime will expire in 2022.  To date, the signs are encouraging in terms of updating the current rules to address developments in digital distribution and provide greater legal certainty in an online environment.  However, UK businesses will not be able to benefit domestically from the EU reforms when they are finally expected to come into force in May 2022, unless and until the UK government decides to enshrine the new rules in UK law (or develops its own equivalents).

The existing EU regime comprises the vertical block exemption regulation (“VBER”) and its accompanying guidelines (“Vertical Guidelines”).  The VBER is a so-called ‘block exemption’, providing a safe harbour under EU competition law for certain categories of agreements between businesses active at different levels of the supply chain, including exclusive and selective distribution agreements. Broadly-speaking, the VBER exempts such agreements where the parties are not considered to have market power – i.e., less than 30% respective market share – provided that they are not competitors (broadly-defined) and there are no ‘hard core’ restrictions (e.g. resale price maintenance) in the agreements. Accordingly, under the VBER, businesses can self-asses the compliance of their proposed routes to market with EU competition law.

Given that vertical agreements are at the heart of EU distribution and purchasing arrangements, they are among the most common commercial arrangements which need to comply with EU competition law. Therefore, the legal certainty afforded by their assessment under the VBER is of immense practical importance for business. However, there is criticism – increasingly vociferous in recent years – that the existing regime does not adequately deal with the reality of digital platforms and online marketing and sales, in particular when it comes to distribution and pricing models.  

As is the case with its block exemptions and related guidelines generally, the Commission is required to review them before expiry to determine whether they should be extended, revised or allowed to lapse. The first iteration of the VBER dates back to 1999; this was replaced a decade ago by the current (2010) version of the VBER. While the previous review gave rise to some changes in the Vertical Guidelines, it did not focus much (arguably not enough) on digital developments. Accordingly, despite some tweaking of the earlier rules, the current VBER stayed more suited to an analogue than a digital world. This time round, however, it is undeniable that the commercial world has been fundamentally transformed, with online sales becoming a predominant route to market for many – if not most – retailers. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rise of e-commerce.

The current review process kicked-off in 2018 with an evaluation phase that highlighted the need to address digital developments – in particular, the increasing importance of online sales and online market platforms. This was recently reinforced by a Staff Working Document issued by the Commission: this acknowledged that certain rules may need to be revised to reflect the digital environment better so that the VBER can continue to provide a framework of assessment which enables legal certainty.  Although this Staff Working Document does not commit the Commission to any formal position, it does provide a good indication of the general direction of travel.

The Commission’s evaluation phase has been followed by a so-called impact assessment phase which considered the policy options for revision of the current rules. A public consultation in relation to the impact assessment is planned for before the end of 2020. The Commission’s draft text for a new VBER and Vertical Guidelines is expected in 2021 and will also be subject to public consultation.

While the Commission’s review of the regime in the lead-up to its expiry is undoubtedly a protracted process, current signs are to be welcomed. The documents published to date acknowledge that the rules need to be updated to reflect the digital environment better and the intention certainly appears to be that the revised VBER will address the issues relevant to online sales and online market platforms.

It is also telling that the overhaul of the VBER and Vertical Guidelines comes at a time when the Commission is focusing on the shift to a digital world and its implications with the aim to create “a Europe fit for the digital age”. Examples of related initiatives include:

  • Earlier this year, the Commission announced the Digital Services Act package “to modernise the current legal framework for digital services”;
  • The Commission also recently finalised the public consultation on the so-called ‘New Competition Tool’. This seeks to give the Commission powers to impose ex ante measures on digital platforms with significant market power, even where there is no (demonstrated) abuse of such power. It seems as though the New Competition Tool might be included in a broader Digital Markets Act; and
  • The Commission has also very recently proposed new rules on data governance aimed at facilitating data sharing across the EU and between different sectors.

With the end of the Brexit transition period looming and future EU rules no longer being applicable (at least in absence of some form of deal with the EU), the UK is separately considering how to address the challenges brought about by digital markets and harness their benefits. For example, the UK has recently announced a new Digital Markets Unit to regulate big tech players. However, when it comes to the new rules on vertical agreements, UK businesses will not benefit domestically from the new fit-for-purpose regime when it finally arrives in May 2022, although they will be required to comply with it in respect of exports to the EU.  This will be the case unless and until the UK government decides to enshrine the new rules in UK law or develops its own – and there is little sign at least of the former as yet.

Inequality in Austria is higher than expected, new research reveals

The 10 percent of the Austrian population with the highest income earn more than three times the Austrian average and seven times more than the lowest-income half of the population, finds new research from Vienna University of Economics and Business, also revealing that the majority of Austrians benefit from existing redistribution.

Using new statistical methods, economists from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration (WU) and the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) were able to outline the distribution of income in Austria more comprehensively than was previously possible, revealing greater inequalities than previously thought.

Emanuel List, Research Associate at the Research Institute Economics of Inequality at WU, together with Stefan Jestl, wiiw Economist, linked tax and survey data using special statistical methods. Their study refers to income in Austria generated in the years 2004 to 2016.

Their main results are:

For the majority of Austrians, real income stagnated over the twelve-year period analysed.
Young people below the age of 30 experienced significant income losses.
The financial crisis initially reduced income inequality, but since 2012 income has slightly increased again.
Capital incomes, i.e. income from interest and dividends, are highly concentrated. Among the top 10, they account for more than one third and among the top 1 even more than half of income.
The study also shows that the majority of Austrians benefit from redistribution via the social security system, including the education and health systems as well as social housing. It encompasses benefits in kind as well as government services that are basically available to all citizens and increase disposable income.

Austrian long-term data in the World Inequality Database

The data is now also available in the World Inequality Database (WID, https://wid.world), which was created, amongst others, by the French star economist Thomas Piketty. The WID maps global income and wealth inequality. In the course of our collaboration, the study results will be combined with existing data and estimates for the period 1980 to 2019 will be produced. The WID database contains data series on the distribution of income and wealth in more than 200 countries. It provides the basis for the regular “Report on Global Inequality”, which serves as key evidence for policy measures to combat economic inequality.

Statistical methods improved

The new statistical method DINA (Distributional National Accounts) links data from surveys and the tax register with data from national accounts. This makes it possible to divide the total national income among individuals, to fill existing gaps and thus to produce more comprehensive and accurate results than in the application of traditional methods. DINA also makes data from different countries comparable and thus facilitates international studies.

The study

Stefan Jestl, Emanuel List (2020): Distributional National Accounts (DINA) for Austria, 2004–2016, https://wid.world/news-article/distributional-national-accounts-dina-for-austria-2004-2016/

How to prepare your company for Brexit

As the deadline of the UK leaving the European Union is around the corner, logistics companies will need meticulous preparation in order to be able to compete in the new market. We spoke to Azhar Hussain, CEO of Hanhaa, a leading British internet-of-things innovator and private LTE/5G network supplier. Hanhaa’s first integrated solution, ParceLive is a real-time cargo tracking service. ParceLive connects users to live information about the location, condition and security of their assets regardless of their country, method of transport, carrier or scale. ParceLive is being deployed internationally by leading logistics vendors and channel partners from Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, GEODIS, DS Smith, Porsche and Arrow Electronics.

Read on for the best insider tips from Azhar to ensure your business is ready for Brexit. 

1. Open a foreign office if you’re shipping into Europe

With Brexit, everything becomes much more problematic especially with customs and increased costs. Even if a deal is reached, there is enough bad information out there that people will just assume the worst. British businesses will lose a lot of deals simply by not being called or asked about them – buyers will just eliminate the UK from their criteria. Open an office in continental Europe or Ireland which will be the sales function of selling into Europe. The European company needs to be the counterpart to the UK company so that all shipping can be managed internally within the company and customs will need to be less involved. 
 

2. Understand the negative implications that can impact your business

There is going to be a problem with reduced haulage capacity for UK businesses that operate within Europe. You will no longer have unlimited access to European roads as a freight operator. The UK is going to get an allocation of licenses and only licensed vehicles will be able to go into Europe. The problem here is that it will also operate the other way as well and the UK will probably do the same.
 

3. Build a good relationship with your shipper

Even if the UK say they aren’t going to check any paperwork coming in from Europe, under the WTO rules, the British cannot favour the Europeans. Therefore they have to give the same terms to everybody and if they decide that there will be no paperwork controls on cargo coming in, the implications are only negative. 
 

4. Stay on top of all of your paperwork

In the world of tariffs, you need commodity codes for everything you ship. Really familiarise yourself with the commodity codes of your products. Make sure whatever goods you have comply to the countries that you are supplying to. UK regulations and European regulations were the same, but that will no longer be the case. You will need to specifically declare for Europe in a way you didn’t have to before. If you manufacture something, you need to make sure you comply with the correct forms of testing.
 

5. Use IoT tech such as ParceLive or the ParceLive blockchain app integration to upload and track all your documents with your shipments

This will make your workflow so much easier. You can attach a ParceLive device to your cargo, upload the shipping documents for it and as the shipments are moving through the world, give access to those documents to your shippers and to the customs authority. The goods can declare themselves as they move, and any delays can be highlighted back to you instantly. Expect congestion at ports, if not on the UK side then certainly on the European side, as Europeans have stated they won’t let things through without paperwork. With ParceLive, you can track your goods as they go through different frontiers, understand if they have been blocked, and get a better understanding of ETAs. If there are any issues, documentation can be shared easily to resolve concerns over the cargo in transit instantly and transparently.

Recruiting Overseas Employees: What You Need to Know

Recruiting employees can be a real struggle for businesses. You want to be sure you’re reaching the ideal candidates that have the skills and experience needed to really excel in the job, and therefore help the business to succeed. While that can be challenging, when you’re trying to recruit overseas employees it throws another wrench in the plan, posing even more obstacles and challenges.

When recruiting overseas employees, you can be faced with such things as a language barrier, a difference in work culture/climate/expectations, a time difference that makes meetings difficult, wage expectations, and so much more. It can all be a bit much and, frankly, very overwhelming. So, before you get too caught up in the stress, here are some tips and information you’ll want to know as you dive into recruiting overseas employees.

 

Don’t Approach the Situation the Same as In Your Own Country

First things first, you have to go into the process with the expectation that it won’t be the same as you’re used to at home. Whatever you’re used to doing here at home in terms of recruitment will probably differ. Even if it’s just small differences, there are still those key elements that you need to adapt to. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing, it’s about being realistic.

 

Consider an Employer of Record

Just because you will be expanding globally it doesn’t mean that you will be working at those new locations. It could be that you remain in your home country for the vast majority of the time, which can make things like recruitment, employee taxes, insurance, benefits, visa issues, and more, quite complicated. This is exactly why it may be worth looking into an employer of record.

An employer of record (EOR) is an organization or a company that holds the legal responsibility of paying all the employees. And as GlobalizationPedia points out, it’s not just pay; it’s various other employee relation issues as mentioned above. An EOR can basically look after everything that is human resources related. GlobalizationPedia has lots of useful articles to help you handle the human resources side of global expansion and overseas recruitment. They can help match you with the right PEO/EOR.

 

You Need to Have a Strong Brand Image

It’s also important that the company focuses on building a positive brand image at home before recruiting talent abroad. People like to look into a potential employer, so they need to see a strong company with a good image. You get things in order here at home, and then it spills into an international playing field.

 

Fully Understand the Laws of the Country You are Hiring In

Finally, you need to be fully aware of the labor laws, regulations, and restrictions of the country you are expanding in. Again, you cannot make the assumption that things run the same overseas as they do here in your home country.

 

Taking All the Right Steps

By briefing yourself on these steps and information, you’ll be able to recruit overseas employees in a more timely and effective manner.

EU Overreach in Member States’ Energy Policies

The Clean Energy Package, the Green Deal, European Climate Law: The European Union has introduced numerous initiatives promoting joint, climate-friendly energy policies. But the EU’s legal means are limited – just how limited they are is the focus of Stefan Storr’s research. A professor at WU’s Institute for Austrian and European Public Law, Storr criticizes the imprecise wording of the EU Governance Regulation and the draft of the European Climate Law and warns that the EU could be overstepping its competences in its eagerness to achieve the goal of a climate-neutral union by 2050.

The energy sector is a key factor of our economies and is currently undergoing massive changes. For over 20 years, comprehensive liberalization efforts have worked to overcome monopolies in the energy sector and facilitate competition. One of today’s greatest challenges is the transition to increased energy efficiency and the use of climate-friendly energy sources. The EU is pushing hard to achieve these goals with initiatives like the Clean Energy Package, the Green Deal, and the European Climate Law currently under development, but for these measures to be successful, it needs member states to play along. WU legal expert Stefan Storr is investigating just how far-reaching the EU’s competences are in the energy sector. “The main problem with a Europe-wide energy and climate policy is that the European Union does not have overarching competences in the energy sector and the field of climate protection,” says Storr.

Imprecise wording in the Governance Regulation

The European Treaties do give the EU the competence to realize the Single European Market while taking into account the need to conserve and improve the environment, especially with regard to promoting energy efficiency, reducing energy use, and developing new and renewable energy sources, but member states retain considerable powers of their own. As Storr explains, “EU member states are free to make their own national decisions about the conditions for exploiting their energy resources, their choice between different energy sources, and the general structure of their energy supply. In addition, high-budget projects can also affect the member states’ budgetary and economic policies, meaning that the EU cannot pursue a comprehensive, EU-wide policy.” This is why the EU is attempting to coordinate the member states’ energy and climate policies using a governance system and common guidelines requiring member states to develop integrated national energy and climate plans and long-term strategies. “The European Commission then assesses these plans and strategies. If necessary, it can issue country-specific recommendations. Among other things, the Commission looks at how ambitious the member states are in pursuing goals and implementing policies and measures for reaching their climate targets. The recommendations are not binding, but the member states must ‘take due account’ of them. This and other examples of vague, imprecise wording allow for widely varying interpretations in governance and make it difficult to implement policies uniformly in member states,” says Storr.

Delegated acts on specific pathways go too far

Storr feels that this research shows how important it is to carry out nuanced analyses and assessments of the distribution of competences between the EU and its member states and of the possibilities of coordinated energy and climate protection policies. In some instances, according to Storr, the EU Commission also goes too far, for example by seeking the power to adopt delegated acts to prescribe specific pathways for achieving the EU’s 2050 climate targets in the 2031–2050 period. Delegated acts are only allowed to include ‘non-essential’ regulations,” Storr explains.

About Stefan Storr

Stefan Storr is a professor of Austrian and European law at WU. He studied law in Heidelberg and Munich and earned his law degree in Munich. He was an academic staff member at the University of Jena, where he received his doctorate. After taking the bar exam, he earned his venia docendi in the subjects of constitutional and administrative law, European law, and financial constitutional law in Jena. He then worked as a lawyer in Leipzig and taught as a visiting professor in Jena, Munich, and Dresden. He continued on to the University of Graz in 2008, before being appointed as a professor at the Institute for Austrian and European Public Law at WU in 2018. His research focuses on constitutional and administrative law, EU law, and public economic law, especially energy law. He has published extensively in Austrian and international journals, edited volumes, and legal commentaries.

Shake Up Your Marketing Efforts for Your SME with These Tips

Does it feel like your SME’s marketing efforts have gone stale as of late? Does the business have specific goals set out, yet is failing to meet them due to marketing shortfalls? Is your messaging being lost or just not having that effective reach that you had hoped for? Not to worry, as this is a common issue that can happen. All that it signals is that it’s time to go back to the drawing board on the marketing plan, examine where you currently stand, analyze your efforts thus far, and shake things up a little bit.

To help give you that boost you may be looking for right now, here are some ways in which you can shake up your current marketing efforts so that your SME can start to experience better results and return on your marketing budget.

Analyze What Is and Isn’t Working

The very first step in your plan should be to do a thorough analysis of what is currently working and what isn’t. There’s a good chance it’s a mix of good and bad, which means you don’t want to scrap everything. By identifying what is currently working, it gives you some basic building blocks that you can start with.

Is Your Messaging Clear?

It’s also important to look at your marketing message. It is as clear as you hoped? Is it calling out to your specific target audience? Could it do with a little modernization in order to be more effective? Branding needs to be concise in any of the marketing messages you put out there. Customers need to be able to understand what kind of business you are, as well as what sort of products and services you feature. If they have to struggle to figure out what the business offers, they are just going to give up.

Embrace Social Networks Wholeheartedly

If the company hasn’t yet embraced social networks/platforms or has done so in a rather timid way, it’s time to shake up your efforts here too. Social networks offer some of the best ways to engage with customers and truly spread your marketing message. And it’s not just one specific network; it’s a matter of being active on as many as possible.

So, what does this require from your end? First of all, you need to be posting relevant, engaging, fun, and noteworthy content, and it needs to be done on a consistent basis. Posting to your Facebook page once every couple of weeks just won’t cut it. This is a surefire way to sink your social networks.

In order to build a following and hopefully create buzz, you need to be posting content as close to daily as possible. Granted, there won’t always be a need to post each day, but at the very least, be sure to engage and answer questions and comments even if you don’t have anything new to post.

As for which social networks to focus on, all the usual ones should apply, which are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Use Automation Tools to Your Advantage

Automated tools can also be a way to shake up and extend your marketing efforts. Automation is meant to streamline processes, eliminate duplicate and redundant steps, and truly make a business more efficient and effective. So, how can automation be used when it comes to marketing?

Take a look at the marketing platform Autopilot, which is used to improve and increase customer engagement. Now, what if you could automatically sync it with the popular Mailchimp email marketing tool? Mailchimp is used for targeted messages, newsletters, and campaigns.

You can use this free trial from PieSync, which effortlessly syncs these two powerful tools together, giving you the ultimate streamlined and effective automated tool. You can sync Mailchimp and Autopilot two-way, which unlocks all kinds of possibilities and applications.

Try Something Entirely New

Then there is the fact that it may be time to try something entirely new. If your current efforts aren’t working, you really have nothing to lose.

Some popular marketing tactics you may want to employ right now include:

  • Creating a blog
  • Writing an e-newsletter
  • Creating lists or statistics that you can share with followers and website visitors
  • Adding some personality to your marketing message
  • Capitalizing on the things that make your company unique and stand out
  • Connecting with the local community and media
  • Forming a partnership with a local business
  • Working with an influencer

Each of these tactics has its own list of pros and cons, so you need to figure out what would make the most sense for your branding and the product/service you are trying to sell.

Start Getting Better Results

Each of these tips is designed to help your SME realize better results with its marketing efforts, and therefore increase sales and profits.

Top Tips on How to Ensure Office Safety

When you are running a business, you’ll want to make sure that it is safe for you and all of your employees. To make sure it’s safe, there are certain regulations and checks that need to be carried out. In this article, we discuss some top tips to help ensure office safety. 

Clean Often

One of the easiest ways that you can ensure office safety is by cleaning your space often. A lot of germs and bacteria can circulate in your office as people come in and out and use the same tools and equipment. Cleaning all parts of the office regularly can make it safer for you and the staff. Pay particular attention to shared space areas like cafes or kitchens so you can maintain good hygiene levels.

 

Check Electricals Regularly

Another way that you can ensure office safety is by making sure that you conduct regular electrical testing. In an office space, a lot of electricity is used due to the number of devices and appliances. To make sure things are running as they should, electrical testing is important as it could prevent fires, electric shocks and much more. If you get this checked regularly by a professional then you will be able to keep yourself and your staff safer for longer.

 

Follow Risk Assessments

Performing risk assessments and making any necessary changes is vital to ensure safety. When you carry out a risk assessment, you search the area for any hazards and then make a record of these. Once you have found all potential hazards, you can then look for solutions on how to deal with these problems so you can keep everyone in the office safe.

 

Security

Not only is it important to keep spaces clean and free from hazards, but it is also important to keep up and maintain security measures. Security is important as without it, it can make all those in the office vulnerable and at risk from people entering buildings stealing and more. If you have secure doors and locks along with passwords on devices then, you can keep your staff safe as well as any personal and confidential information that you store.

Consider These Tips

As you can see, there are a lot of things you can try out to make your office space safe. From checking electricals regularly to following health and safety procedures to meeting environmental standard, there is a lot to do. Make sure you keep this article in mind and put these tips into practice in the future.

The Future of Learning Arrives at Institut auf dem Rosenberg

This September, when Institut auf dem Rosenberg’s students returned to school, they were met with a new state-of-the-art Future Park which could easily be mistaken for a tech mogul’s dream. Featuring a Climate Garden, a Farm Bot and Wind Trees, Rosenberg’s Future Park is an essential steppingstone in progressing Rosenberg’s mission to revolutionise education. The school, which is already globally recognised for its world-renowned advanced approach to education, has always been quick to embrace new ways of learning and has long sought to offer a unique and contemporary learning experience which aims to close the gap between education and the real, professional world of the 21st century.

Spearheaded by Rosenberg’s Director and Headmaster Mr Bernhard Gademann, The Rosenberg Future Park, which only took a few months to design, takes inspiration from leading figures within technology and education such as Elon Musk, and Sir Anthony Seldon, whose educational beliefs align with Rosenberg’s ethos that traditional approaches to education are failing to prepare young minds for today’s world.

Mr Gademann comments, “It’s vital that we continue to go beyond our educational offering and prepare our students for a future world where technology is changing life as we know it. The Rosenberg Future Park is an example of how education must adapt to support the ever-evolving working world. It is a space dedicated to research and experimental learning to foster innovation and creativity on an entirely new level. This new facility at the heart of our campus will enable us to deliver on our promise of promoting solution-based and collaborative learning. We are proud to partner with some of the world’s leading organisations in the field of science and technology, including ETH Zurich and Boston Dynamics.” The Rosenberg Future Park will be a contemporary educational playfield made up of the following projects which allow Rosenberg students to anticipate and shape the future of humanity on earth and beyond:

1. Outdoor Lab

The Outdoor Lab is the equivalent of the Rosenberg Creative lab² where art, technology and design form experimental extensions of human imagination and creativity. With Rosenberg already being home a state-of-the-art collection of robots, the Outdoor Lab will see students meet Boston Dynamics’ Spot – an unprecedented robot that helps students unlock creative engineering ambitions. The students and teachers will programme Spot to report back on the Rosenberg Future Park systems, allowing the school to be notified if there are any issues and new findings. This real time learning is crucial for Rosenberg’s students and the core reason of why the school is investing in robots and projects such as the Future Park.

2. Climate Garden

The Climate Garden will host a hybrid climate zone made of two different domes with a variety of plants that will enable students to see how climate change has an impact on vegetation. In this collaborative project with the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Centre of the ETH Zurich, the predicted weather conditions of 2085 are simulated to create a comparison to the average temperature in Switzerland now, differing between +2ºC and +4ºC. There will be more than ten types of sensors throughout the two domes, which continually collect and communicate data for analysis used in student projects. The aim is to effectively demonstrate the result of global warming and promote planet-centred thinking among the students.

3. Vertical Farm

Vertical farming is a means of tackling one of humanity’s most pressing challenges: how can we provide sustainable food for our daily needs? New vertical farming technologies have brought forward a system of circular irrigation and a farming method that reduces production costs while protecting natural resources. With the help of ETH spin-off Yasai, Rosenberg students have designed their own version, which is one example of how student work is guided by industry specialists. Rosenberg’s cuisine team makes use of the healthy produce grown in the Vertical Farm to supply crops for students all year round to eat in their school meals.

4. Farm Bot

Working inside The Climate Garden is a Farm Bot which prepares, plants, grows and nurtures crops through atomisation. Rosenberg students will learn to programme the Farm Bot and use it for research purposes, teaching students not to fear technology, but to embrace the new opportunities it offers.

5. Wind Trees

All projects within the Rosenberg Future Park are connected to a self-sustaining energy network, which is driven in part by familiar sources of renewable energy, such as solar energy as well as a collection of innovative Wind Trees which will provide sufficient wind power to feed most electronic devices within the Climate Garden.

Next steps for the Future Park

As the Future Park continues to evolve, these initiatives will also soon be joined by the Rosenberg Drone Port and Future Living Pods, among other exciting projects. The Future Living Pods will enable students to work with ground-breaking space architects at SAGA to experiment with design and technology that will shape future living, combining traditional artisanship with contemporary inventions.

Mr Gademann comments, “The park will be open to all students studying at Rosenberg, not only for academic subjects but also for Talent and Enrichment³ co-curricular courses and individual projects. Similarly to the Creative Lab, which was launched at Rosenberg a few years ago, the Future Park offers space for students to try out, experience and understand ideas and projects alongside industry partners and artisans.”

While certain aspects of this project – such as the Drone Port and Climate Garden – will be applicable to focused technology, science and design subjects, the Rosenberg Future Park aims to forge an enquiring mindset within students studying maths and art too. The project is a vehicle for interconnectedness, promoting a Renaissance attitude towards education as a tool for well-rounded thinking which will relate to many subjects across the curriculum.

Contracting in Germany Remains Resilient During Covid-19

Opportunities for contractors in Germany have remained resilient despite the economic impact of the global pandemic, according to a study from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo)

The research – from APSCo Deutschland, in partnership with Freelance.de – revealed that three in five contractors in the country were still actively engaged in the last week of July 2020. The majority of those not actively engaged at the height of the outbreak in Europe cited Covid-19 closures as the main reason for the drop in work.

While it is encouraging that the majority of contract professionals were still employed at this time, respondents reported a decline in both hours and rates, with 60% recording less time worked and 45% reducing their rates.

Contractors reject the security of AÜG in favour of independence

The data also indicated an overwhelming desire from respondents to remain independent despite the uncertain economic climate in Germany. The majority (75.9%) of independent contractors surveyed would not accept an AÜG role, moreover 59% stated they would reject the AÜG model outright as a realistic means of supplying their specialist talent to the economy.

Only 15.6% of those contractors not actively engaged were making claims for financial support through the Kurzarbeit.

Tremayne Elson, Managing Director of APSCo Deutschland, commented on the results:

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for everyone, but contractors have arguably been one of the hardest hit. With projects being put on hold during lockdowns, freelancers faced a potential strain on finances, but as always, the contracting community in Germany has really demonstrated a great level of resilience. To see so many still actively engaged – and keen to remain independent despite the temptation of job security through the AÜG staff leasing model – is a very encouraging sign for the future of contractor recruitment in the country.”

EU Business News Announce the Winners of the 2020 Benelux Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2020 – EU Business News Magazine have announced the winners of this year’s instalment of the Benelux Awards.

Despite a year defined by intense upheaval and uncertainty, there are companies across the Benelux region (and indeed, beyond) who are continuing on, and finding alternative ways to capture success. Whether it is by entering new markets, or capitalising on new technology, 2020 has been a year of change and catalysts. We have endeavoured to celebrate those who are showing an immense degree of resilience and entrepreneurship in these trying times.

Awards Coordinator Edward Faulkner took a moment to comment on the success of the winners. “Congratulations to all of those recognised in this programme – I would like to wish you the very best of luck for the future.”  

EU Business News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. As such, very one of our winners can be certain that their success is deserved. We carefully evaluate everything from a business’s, or individual’s, performance over the past 12-months to ensure that only the most deserving parties walk away with one of our prestigious awards.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

As subscription to EU Business News is free there is absolutely no reason not to sign up to receive this informative and fascinating resource.

“Secure Your Workforce Now” Warn Legal Experts 11 Weeks Before Brexit

With the UK set to leave the EU in a matter of months, leading lawyers are issuing a call to businesses across sectors to make 11th hour preparations to secure their workforces before Brexit. As of 31 December 2020, free movement will end, posing extreme challenges for main and subcontractors, which currently rely on EU migrant labour.

Many UK construction businesses have utilised migrant labour in recent years and, come January, those businesses whose workforces have consisted of a large percentage of lower skilled migrant workers sourced from the EU will run into difficulties, as many salaries will not meet the new minimum salary threshold imposed by the government under the new system.

After spending the past six months dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, the prospect of further Brexit-related workforce issues is the last thing the construction sector needs.

In order to prepare for the upcoming changes, businesses must do everything in their power to make last minute preparations where possible. These include ensuring that they have the necessary sponsor licence in place to hire skilled workers, regulating the status of their current EU workforces by ensuring that all those eligible have applied for, or are in the process of registering under the EU Settlement Scheme, and where possible bringing forward recruitment plans to hire Europeans, before the end of the transition period.

After mixed messaging from Government throughout the Brexit process, a policy statement on the new immigration system was laid out in February this year with a ‘Further Details’ statement published in July 2020. However, with the Home Office swamped with applications and working through a significant backlog, businesses looking to apply for a sponsor licence may experience significant delays.

Tijen Ahmet, head of business immigration at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, said: “It’s getting close to the line now and the reality is that any business that employs Europeans from next year will find themselves in a tough position if they haven’t got the necessary sponsor licence and compliance processes in place by now.

“Smaller companies may still be able to secure their workforce ahead of the Brexit date, however larger corporates whose workforces are made up of a high percentage of migrant workers have a tough task ahead of them. The Government hasn’t helped this process and with it taking up to six months to obtain a sponsor licence in some cases, even those businesses, which have been proactive risk getting caught out.”

However, Ahmet believes that whilst time is running out, it is still worth business owners and HR departments doing all they can to secure their European workforces today and before 30 June 2021 when the EU Settlement Scheme is due to close.

She continues: “If businesses want to employ Europeans in future, getting the ball rolling now would be hugely advantageous. Whilst the current system is in place, EU citizens can enter the UK with their EU passport or ID card and begin to work. As of January, that simply won’t be possible.

“There are tough times ahead for us all, especially as the country grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic. The international talent pool is set to become much smaller, however there are steps which can be taken, even in the short term. The worst thing any business can do is bury its head in the sand and think that everything will continue as normal after 1 January 2021– any action is better than no action at all.”

Are staff more productive working from home?

The year 2020 has seen a seismic shift in the way we work, with a huge percentage of workers now doing their job from home. While working from home used to be seen as an unattainable dream by many UK employees, the ongoing pandemic has facilitated a working from home revolution in which even those who had previously had working from home requests turned down now find themselves juggling the demands of their 9 to 5 job with childcare and chores. As new restrictions are put in place with the aim of curbing the spread of the virus, only time will tell how long Britain’s workers will be out of the office for.

In this article LDN Properties explore the pros and cons of working from home and examine whether or not working from home makes our staff more productive.

The pros of working from home

Fewer distractions from colleagues – Most of us could probably name at least one colleague who is more than happy to engage in chit-chat by the water cooler, perhaps even to the extent that it impacts upon your productivity! While it is good to maintain positive relations with colleagues, many find working from home to be helpful in minimising distractions from co-workers.

Less office politics – Similarly, some workers have found working from home to provide a welcome break from office politics, as well as the gossip and backstabbing that go alongside. With fewer opportunities to spread gossip, it is arguable that working from home has made us more focused on the task at hand and less likely to engage in politicking.

More time to think about projects – It could be argued that a busy office environment is not the best place to think about long-term projects, and that the buzzing atmosphere of most offices is too busy to be conducive to strategic planning. For many employees, working from home has afforded them a peaceful environment to contemplate long-term goals and ambitions for their company.

More focused meetings – A large number of employees report that too much of their working life is taken up by meetings which are unfocused and, consequently, run way over their allocated time slot. It can be extremely frustrating when meetings eat into time which should be being spent on other projects. Many find that virtual meetings lead to more time-efficient meetings with specific and measurable outcomes.

Better work/life balance – Another huge advantage of home working is the work/life balance that is achieved without the pressures of commuting. While working from the office involves a lengthy and often stressful commute into a city centre, working from home means that many employees gain back at least two hours of their day in which to manage their home lives.

Total control over your own workspace – With so many office arguments stemming from debates over what the appropriate temperature of a workspace is, it’s no wonder that employees are relishing the opportunity to have total control over their own workspaces. Working from home allows you to create an environment which is most conducive to your own comfort and productivity.

The cons of working from home

More distractions from children and partners – While working from home might reduce distractions from colleagues, it can be difficult for those who have young children. Even partners can be a distraction, especially if your other half has been furloughed and is finding it difficult to fill their days at home.

Increased sense of isolation – We are all vulnerable to an increased sense of isolation when working from home. However, some will experience this more acutely than others. In particular, extroverts may struggle with loneliness and lack of stimulation while working from home. If you are struggling it might help to introduce a regular social event that can be attended virtually, such as a quiz, to ensure that you are still engaging with your colleagues in an informal way.

Communication lag – Another common issue experienced when working from home is a communication lag whereby it may take hours or even days for issues to be resolved when the entire team is working remotely. Even issues that would have been resolved almost immediately if the team was working in an office could fall between the cracks. Therefore, issues with communicating effectively is another reason why working from home could be challenging to productivity.

Mental health implications – 2020 has been a tough year for many of us, and in some cases, working from home has exacerbated the strain. While some have embraced this new way of working, others have struggled with the loss of routine and reduced opportunities for social connections to thrive. If you are struggling with the mental health implications associated with working from home, contact your HR department or a mental health organisation who can offer support.

Decreased motivation – Although you may be just as busy as you have ever been while working from home, you may also have experienced a fall in your workload leading to quiet periods. In this situation you might find it difficult to stay motivated and engaged with your work. When working from home it is all too easy to get lost in household chores and, over time, this can lead you to become disillusioned with your work. If you are finding it difficult to stay focused or motivated when working from home, it might help to get in touch with a qualified career counsellor who could help you to get back on track.

To sum up, while some staff find working from home great for their productivity and overall wellbeing, others may find working from home to be an isolating experience which robs them of their sense of motivation.

Going Out in Its Prime? The Final Prime Day Before Brexit Will Create A £1bn Christmas In October, Predicts ParcelHero

Amazon’s Prime Day 48-hour shopping fest, which takes place 13-14 October, will see shoppers spend over $10bn worldwide, forecasts the home delivery expert ParcelHero. It says 15 million Brits look set to splash £1bn in early Christmas shopping over the two-day event, to avoid Brexit bureaucracy in December.

Prime Day sales have jumped well over 50% every year since it kicked off in 2015, with sales last year totalling $7.16bn. Continuing that trend, ParcelHero is forecasting that this year’s sale will reach $10.7bn worldwide, with a record spend by Amazon’s 15million-plus UK Prime members.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, believes the delay in this year’s event from August to October, necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, means it falls perfectly for UK shoppers to splash the cash before Amazon’s strict new Brexit rules are implemented.

Says David: ‘In 2019, Amazon’s Prime Day outstripped its Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. In the UK alone, the event caused August’s entire online sales to jump by an incredible 6.9%, according to the Office of National Statistics. That equates to an extra £808m created by Amazon Prime Day alone. This year, UK shoppers and Amazon traders are seizing the chance to break new records before Amazon removes the UK from its European Fulfilment Network. We predict this will add up to a £1bn pre-Christmas spending frenzy this October.

‘Amazon is doing a great deal to support Britain’s small traders this Prime Day. Prime Members who buy £10 worth of products from selected small businesses, such as beauty and grooming, books or electronics, from 28 September-12 October, will earn £10 to purchase virtually any product on Prime Day. That’s an initiative to be applauded.

‘However, in the long term, Amazon is turning its back on Britain’s small sellers in the face of Brexit bureaucracy and delays. This summer, the e-commerce giant announced that from 1 January 2021: ‘FBA offers using EFN will not be fulfilled across the UK-EU border.’ That might not mean a lot to most Brits but, given that the service ends just six days after Christmas, it sent shockwaves through Amazon’s UK sellers’ community. It means all UK stores using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA),  a scheme which sellers pretty much have to belong to in order to even take part in Prime Day, won’t be able to use its European Fulfilment Network to send or import stock to and from the EU any more.

‘Our worry is that the end of this service is bound to create a nightmare before Christmas, as Amazon starts to repatriate UK sellers’ stock.

‘The situation is equally dire for retailers using Amazon’s Pan-European service. Currently UK-based Amazon sellers simply send their EU sales stock to their nearest Fulfilment Centre. Amazon takes on the cost and hassle of distributing it for storage across Europe. From 1 January, UK Pan-European sellers will have to send stock to an Amazon warehouse in the EU at their own cost. For traders, this means splitting stock and potentially increased transport and storage costs. We recommend sellers compare all the leading couriers’ prices shipping to the EU on ParcelHero.

‘The fate of returns after 1 January is a looming problem. The e-commerce giant may start to get heavy-handed about large quantities of stock shipped to EU warehouses at the start of the Christmas season, just in case a backlog of forced returns starts to build.

‘This year might well be a UK Prime Day record-breaker but, next year, shoppers will pay increased costs on any deals from sellers in EU countries and buying from UK sellers who source items from Europe.

‘All considered, for UK shoppers and sellers, next year’s Amazon Prime Day could end up past its prime. For the very latest information on changes to regulations and prices shipping parcels to the EU, see ParcelHero’s constantly updated guide at: https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/international-courier-services.

Why L&D Should Be the Catalyst for Building Back Better

The response to the current pandemic has shown us that rapid and radical change within organisations of all sizes is possible. Whether that’s shifting a global workforce of thousands to working remotely in a matter of days, to pivoting the business’ direction to produce new products or adapt to new market demands.

There is also a clear desire from consumers to seize the opportunity to do things differently as we enter the ‘new normal’, with just six per cent of the UK public wanting to return to a pre-pandemic economy. With this in mind, businesses are now faced with a huge opportunity to reset as they look to ‘build back better’, particularly with regards to sustainability and the drive to create a more sustainable business model that can stand up to future global disasters like the coronavirus.

From an environmental standpoint, the hunger to focus on sustainability is hardly surprising given the positive impact felt during the lockdown period – some UK cities witnessed drops in nitrogen dioxide pollution by as much as 60 per cent. Perhaps as a direct result of such transformation the UK Government has promised a ‘green recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses will no doubt have a key role to play in this.

Supporting the green recovery

Many business leaders will have become increasingly switched on to the green agenda over the years given its prominence in the news and growing pressure from consumers and government regulations. Aside from the obvious ethical arguments for supporting this agenda, sustainability is now seen as key to attracting and retaining talent – something that also makes it business critical.

Millennial and Gen Z workers especially are increasingly driven by working for a company with a clear set of values. In fact, Deloitte research highlighted that 61 per cent of millennials feel the business they work for is actively reducing its impact on the environment, which in turn increased loyalty and the likelihood of them staying in a role long-term.

To attract and retain the next generation of skilled workers, it’s vital that the core values of a business are ever-present – if sustainability is a buzzword used in external comms but isn’t central to ways of working, candidates and employees will vote with their feet. This is where the right L&D programme for employees comes in.

Building sustainability into the heart of the business

As a central function of any business, employee learning and development will play a critical role in helping companies to unify employees around a sustainability goal, vision or values, and empower them to be part of creating positive change. This can be achieved through a multitude of approaches, depending on how far the needle needs to be moved. So whether a company is already committed to more sustainable ways of working, but has struggled to engage employees with this, or if the task at hand is introducing a new sustainability plan or goal that will define the company’s future direction, L&D will be pivotal.

The most successful approach to sustainability training, as with all L&D will involve taking time to understand the make- up of a businesses’ workforce, both demographically, attitudinally and behaviourally. What makes them tick? When have they interacted with learning most effectively in the past? Are there different levels of engagement currently when it comes to sustainability? Analysing what has worked previously will allow companies to move forward with a strategic approach to sustainability L&D.

Similarly, the physical role of employees should be considered. While there will be those who have returned to the more traditional 9-5 office setting, many are still working remotely while others are in socially distanced factories, production plants or on the road as part of a fleet. It would be wrong to assume one training format will work for every member of the workforce, which is why learning modules should be personalised to different roles and persona types.

As an example, businesses aiming for net zero emissions by 2050 in line with UK Government’s pledge will need to provide L&D which motivates employees and educates them about the role they play as individuals and within their functions in helping to achieve the change necessary to reach this goal. With a disparate workforce, e-leaning modules will prove popular, but they could also be adapted into traditional classroom training for those without regular, secure access to digital platforms and employees that engage better in such environments.

It’s important to recognise that the topic of climate change remains a divisive one and in large organisations there will be many different attitudes towards the issue. This is where finding the balance between personalisation and ensuring every member of the team is on the same page post-training is so important.

Sustainability training content should therefore start by considering the psychological barriers to engagement with climate change and highlight how it impacts us all to engage as wide an audience as possible. The personalised approach can then be incorporated by allowing each user to select from a set of pre-determined viewpoints – from sceptic to very engaged – followed by content which appeals to their sensibilities. Doing so will not only ensure the content is hyper-relevant to each user but will also increase engagement and the likelihood that sceptical members of the team adapt their ways of thinking to align with the company culture.

Building back better

Sustainability is and will remain one of the key social issues of our time and in a post pandemic world it’s clear that businesses will have a key role to play in the fight for a cleaner, healthier planet. True change on this scale is only possible with an engaged workforce though, which is why effective learning and development will prove central to businesses’ ability to build back better.

How to Integrate Video Content into an Ecommerce Platform to Increase Customer Engagement

By Vlad Vassiliev, Director and CEO of Vape Club.

There is a clear disconnect between businesses and their customers on most eCommerce websites when compared to a traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer. Some people call this a lack of ‘personal touch’. At Vape Club our mission has always been to bridge the gap between a shop experience and a traditional online retail experience. This takes the form of various tools and principles we use, but video content is one of the easiest and most effective ways to bridge that gap. 

According to Biteable’s marketing statistics, 72% of customers prefer to learn about products or services via video, and 81% of businesses are now using video as a marketing tool. Simply think of your video content as a sales assistant that can respond to the customer’s questions in a knowledgeable manner and guide the customer to the right product for them. 

How video content can better highlight the uses and benefits of a product

  • It shows the product being used in action and the benefits it can provide for the customer 
  • It answers questions a customer may have as to how the product is meant to be used
  • It’s a more dynamic and engaging form of content than just a wall of text

In a normal shop you are often able to handle and feel the product to get an idea of its size, ergonomics and functionality. Traditional web store descriptions and images don’t go far enough to reveal all of a product’s detail, so video content is a great supplement to the standard content. 

How video content can be used to enhance the overall company brand

  • It offers owners the chance to get in front of the camera and display their knowledge and passion for a product
  • Videos can also be effectively shared on social media channels
  • If the videos are created specifically to answer questions for potential and existing customers, they offer a further opportunity to connect with a target audience

Many consumers’ buying journeys begin by comparing similar items to decide which one will fit their needs. This gives online retailers an opportunity to expose their brand to consumers and start to build up trust and subject authority. Couple that with FAQs and common problem resolution videos for a particular product, and all of a sudden you have a captive customer that knows you as a trusted authority on the subject. 

How video content can draw attention to a specific topic a company may want to talk more about

  • Video content offers a way to engage that text can’t always do so
  • Visual imagery can help hammer home a point (eg. charity brands do this constantly)
  • It’s easier to hold someone’s attention through a video than an entire article, where someone might skim through or read only a section

How has Vape Club benefitted from producing video content?

  • It’s enabled us to grow a significant YouTube presence – over 66,000 subscribers, and the most popular video has around 5 million views.

Our YouTube channel has a combined 12M+ views, mostly from people looking to switch to vaping. This has helped us to establish the company as an authority on the subject, and in terms of SEO has helped us to rank for a broad range of keywords we otherwise may not have done so well on.

  • Other relevant websites and publications have featured our videos which in turn enable us to boost our reputation as industry experts.
  • In particular for our industry, we get plenty of enquiries from people who have used e-cigarettes before and their questions are largely predictable. These videos help us preface them and answer them in a way which is friendly and easy for them to follow. 

We have also embedded our own videos and 3rd party-generated videos onto our product pages to make the product information more interactive and accessible for potential customers looking to learn more. With more people looking to use vapes and perhaps not knowing that much about it, these videos play a key role in helping us impart what they need to know..

Microsoft Finds Underwater Datacenters Are Reliable, Practical and Use Energy Sustainably

By John Roach

Earlier this summer, marine specialists reeled up a shipping-container-size datacenter coated in algae, barnacles and sea anemones from the seafloor off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The retrieval launched the final phase of a years-long effort that proved the concept of underwater datacenters is feasible, as well as logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

Microsoft’s Project Natick team deployed the Northern Isles datacenter 117 feet deep to the seafloor in spring 2018. For the next two years, team members tested and monitored the performance and reliability of the datacenter’s servers.

The team hypothesized that a sealed container on the ocean floor could provide ways to improve the overall reliability of datacenters. On land, corrosion from oxygen and humidity, temperature fluctuations and bumps and jostles from people who replace broken components are all variables that can contribute to equipment failure.

The Northern Isles deployment confirmed their hypothesis, which could have implications for datacenters on land.

Lessons learned from Project Natick also are informing Microsoft’s datacenter sustainability strategy around energy, waste and water, said Ben Cutler, a project manager in Microsoft’s Special Projects research group who leads Project Natick.

What’s more, he added, the proven reliability of underwater datacenters has prompted discussions with a Microsoft team in Azure that’s looking to serve customers who need to deploy and operate tactical and critical datacenters anywhere in the world.

“We are populating the globe with edge devices, large and small,” said William Chappell, vice president of mission systems for Azure. “To learn how to make datacenters reliable enough not to need human touch is a dream of ours.”

 

Proof of concept

The underwater datacenter concept splashed onto the scene at Microsoft in 2014 during ThinkWeek, an event that gathers employees to share out-of-the-box ideas. The concept was considered a potential way to provide lightning-quick cloud services to coastal populations and save energy.

More than half the world’s population lives within 120 miles of the coast. By putting datacenters underwater near coastal cities, data would have a short distance to travel, leading to fast and smooth web surfing, video streaming and game playing.

The consistently cool subsurface seas also allow for energy-efficient datacenter designs. For example, they can leverage heat-exchange plumbing such as that found on submarines.

Microsoft’s Project Natick team proved the underwater datacenter concept was feasible during a 105-day deployment in the Pacific Ocean in 2015. Phase II of the project included contracting with marine specialists in logistics, ship building and renewable energy to show that the concept is also practical.

“We are now at the point of trying to harness what we have done as opposed to feeling the need to go and prove out some more,” Cutler said. “We have done what we need to do. Natick is a key building block for the company to use if it is appropriate.”

Algae, barnacles and sea anemones

The Northern Isles underwater datacenter was manufactured by Naval Group and its subsidiary Naval Energies, experts in naval defense and marine renewable energy. Green Marine, an Orkney Island-based firm, supported Naval Group and Microsoft on the deployment, maintenance, monitoring and retrieval of the datacenter, which Microsoft’s Special Projects team operated for two years.

The Northern Isles was deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre, a test site for tidal turbines and wave energy converters. Tidal currents there travel up to 9 miles per hour at peak intensity and the sea surface roils with waves that reach more than 60 feet in stormy conditions.

The deployment and retrieval of the Northern Isles underwater datacenter required atypically calm seas and a choreographed dance of robots and winches that played out between the pontoons of a gantry barge. The procedure took a full day on each end.

The Northern Isles was gleaming white when deployed. Two years underwater provided time for a thin coat of algae and barnacles to form, and for sea anemones to grow to cantaloupe size in the sheltered nooks of its ballast-filled base.

“We were pretty impressed with how clean it was, actually,” said Spencer Fowers, a principal member of technical staff for Microsoft’s Special Projects research group. “It did not have a lot of hardened marine growth on it; it was mostly sea scum.”

 

Power wash and data collection

Once it was hauled up from the seafloor and prior to transportation off the Orkney Islands, the Green Marine team power washed the water-tight steel tube that encased the Northern Isles’ 864 servers and related cooling system infrastructure.

The researchers then inserted test tubes through a valve at the top of the vessel to collect air samples for analysis at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

“We left it filled with dry nitrogen, so the environment is pretty benign in there,” Fowers said.

The question, he added, is how gases that are normally released from cables and other equipment may have altered the operating environment for the computers.

The cleaned and air-sampled datacenter was loaded onto a truck and driven to Global Energy Group’s Nigg Energy Park facility in the North of Scotland. There, Naval Group unbolted the endcap and slid out the server racks as Fowers and his team performed health checks and collected components to send to Redmond for analysis.

Among the components crated up and sent to Redmond are a handful of failed servers and related cables. The researchers think this hardware will help them understand why the servers in the underwater datacenter are eight times more reliable than those on land.

“We are like, ‘Hey this looks really good,’” Fowers said. “We have to figure out what exactly gives us this benefit.”

The team hypothesizes that the atmosphere of nitrogen, which is less corrosive than oxygen, and the absence of people to bump and jostle components, are the primary reasons for the difference. If the analysis proves this correct, the team may be able to translate the findings to land datacenters.

“Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” Cutler said.

“I have an economic model that says if I lose so many servers per unit of time, I’m at least at parity with land,” he added. “We are considerably better than that.”

Energy, waste and water

Other lessons learned from Project Natick are already informing conversations about how to make datacenters use energy more sustainably, according to the researchers.

For example, the Project Natick team selected the Orkney Islands for the Northern Isles deployment in part because the grid there is supplied 100% by wind and solar as well as experimental green energy technologies under development at the European Marine Energy Centre.

“We have been able to run really well on what most land-based datacenters consider an unreliable grid,” Fowers said. “We are hopeful that we can look at our findings and say maybe we don’t need to have quite as much infrastructure focused on power and reliability.”

Cutler is already thinking of scenarios such as co-locating an underwater datacenter with an offshore windfarm. Even in light winds, there would likely be enough power for the datacenter. As a last resort, a powerline from shore could be bundled with the fiber optic cabling needed to transport data.

Other sustainability related benefits may include eliminating the need to use replacement parts. In a lights-out datacenter, all servers would be swapped out about once every five years. The high reliability of the servers means that the few that fail early are simply taken offline.

In addition, Project Natick has shown that datacenters can be operated and kept cool without tapping freshwater resources that are vital to people, agriculture and wildlife, Cutler noted.

“Now Microsoft is going down the path of finding ways to do this for land datacenters,” he said.

 

Go anywhere

Early conversations about the potential future of Project Natick centered on how to scale up underwater datacenters to power the full suite of Microsoft Azure cloud services, which may require linking together a dozen or more vessels the size of the Northern Isles.

“As we are moving from generic cloud computing to cloud and edge computing, we are seeing more and more need to have smaller datacenters located closer to customers instead of these large warehouse datacenters out in the middle of nowhere,” Fowers said.

That’s one of the reasons Chappell’s group in Azure is keeping an eye on the progress of Project Natick, including tests of post-quantum encryption technology that could secure data from  sensitive and critical sectors. The ability to protect data is core to the mission of Azure in multiple industries.

“The fact that they were very quickly able to deploy it and it has worked as long as it has and it has the level of encryption on the signals going to it combines to tell a pretty compelling vision of the future,” Chappell said.

EU Business News Q3 2020

Welcome to the Q3 edition of EU Business News, a quarterly publication dedicated to providing you with all of the latest news, features and insightful pieces from across the European Union.

As many businesses begin to slowly transition to what many class as the ‘new normal’, this issue of EU Business News takes a look at the affects the pandemic has had to a number of firms and individuals.

For some, this new way of living has created new opportunities for their business to expand, which they have certainly taken advantage of. Whereas for others, these unprecedented times where we all have had to adapt have unfortunately seen a rise in stress levels.

Whether it is a dramatic increase in enquiries, or the rapid fall in a firm’s figures, we have filled the pages of this edition with fascinating articles which dive a little deeper.

Here at EU Business News, we sincerely hope that you enjoy the Q3 issue and hope that you stay safe and well.

New Research Reveals the Extent of Systemic Racism in Ireland’s Job Market

New research reveals the extent of systemic racism in Ireland’s job market Systemic racism in Ireland’s treatment of Asylum Seekers has been revealed in new research from Trinity Business School.

According to research from Elochukwu Uzor and Dr Michelle MacMahon from Trinity Business School, despite Ireland being an international employer, Asylum Seekers are excluded from employment opportunities.

The researchers distributed a short survey to a cross-section of employees. The sample included 50 management and staff across many employment sectors but dominated by the views of three sectors – healthcare, financial services, and education.

The study found that while most participants (43%) believe Ireland is a diverse and inclusive employer, 58% said their organisation does not consider job applications from Asylum Seekers. In 2019, there were 4781 Asylum Seekers in Ireland with almost a quarter (n=1151) from Africa (Irish Refugee Council, 2019).

When the respondents were asked why they thought employers do not consider job applications from Asylum Seekers, the researchers found three recurring themes: employers’ lack of knowledge on the employment status of Asylum Seekers; Ireland’s employers are prejudice; and Ireland’s employers make social assumptions about Asylum Seekers, such as – they are lazy, they are poorly educated, and they have a low level of proficiency in the English language. Meanwhile, only 20% of respondents had advice for Asylum Seekers looking to find a job, which was to ‘network’ and ‘build credibility’.

Elochukwu Uzor, a current MSc HRM student at Trinity Business School, says:

“Employment is a basic human right! Employment provides a sense of inclusion, belonging and security in society. It is also positively related to people’s mental health. Therefore, those who are employed have a greater sense of self-satisfaction. Asylum Seekers have longed craved the opportunity to be included in the labour market and contribute to Irish society. However, this can only be possible if employers are properly educated about Asylum Seekers right to work in Ireland and employees check their exclusion behaviours”.

Dr Michelle MacMahon, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Trinity Business School, says:

“We have moved beyond the business case for diversity and inclusion and still we pay little attention to the exclusions that remain. We view inclusion and diversity as a social phenomena, that is people represent the organisation and therefore people include or exclude. Particularly in Ireland, there is general consensus that opportunities depend on ‘who you know’. However, there exists an opportunity for HRM to adapt existing policies on diversity and inclusion to mitigate exclusion. Policies that draw attention to un/conscious biases and expose exclusion behaviours to give Asylum Seekers a chance to employment, that is their right”.

Dr Na Fu, Programme Director for MSc HRM at Trinity College Dublin, says:

“I would like to congratulate Elo and Michelle on their excellent research. People are the most valuable asset for organisations. Identifying and developing talented people is critical to enable organisations to generate new ideas and innovate across products and services. I am very proud to see our HRM student and faculty are working together to address the real issues in the contemporary people management”.

The research was accepted for presentation by the Organization Behaviour Division Rapid Research Plenary: Racial Inequality and Systemic Racism in Organizations at the Academy of Management Annual Conference, 2020. The Academy of Management Annual Conference is world’s premier and largest management conference. The Academy has a global community with nearly 20,000 members in over 120 countries.

How to Sell Worldwide from a Small Business

Most people assume that you have to have a massive multinational company to be able to sell at a worldwide level. However, it is entirely possible to do so using just a small business, where you could even be the only employee. If you have a smaller business, it is also important that you max out your potential earnings and begin to sell worldwide. Here are some of the ways you can do so.

 

Set Up Your Site

First of all, you need to make sure that your site is properly set up. This goes far beyond simple things like page design and your choice of SEO tactics. You need to make sure that you are properly supporting people of all nationalities when they come to your page.

The best place to start is with your ecommerce plug-in. You need to find one of the best ecommerce platforms as this will have the functionality you need to be able to sell to other people. With so many ecommerce platforms to choose from, you need to make sure that you find one that appeals to you and your needs. With every business have different needs, it is incredibly important that each company finds the one that best works for them. It should also have some sort of functionality that is built for handling transactions in different currencies, and other small changes that you are going to need.

It might be worth looking at your analytics to see where most of your international buyers are from. If they come from a predominantly non-English speaking country, adding a version of your website with their most popular language is such a small gesture but it is one that will be incredibly welcome. Small inclusions like this and multiple currencies can help to build your reputation with the international community.

Know the Laws

The last thing you want is for a product to get stopped at the border and some issue be raised with your company or the customer. Some countries have incredibly strict import/export laws that always need to be obeyed. When you first send a package to a country, you might not be aware of most of these. However, this form of complacency is not good enough, and it is a form of carelessness that can land you in serious trouble.

It is worth speaking with the right sort of lawyer who can advise you on the steps you need to take to be able to offer your products in a certain country. For one thing, any accreditations you might currently have might not be valid in the new country. To be able to sell, you will have to submit your products to their authoritative body for further testing.

The right lawyer should be able to inform you of all steps you need to take. It is up to you as the business owner to make sure that you are always compliant, and a little bit of research can help steer you towards the paths you should take.

Get on Social Media

A traditional brick-and-mortar store has the advantage of word of mouth and passing footfall to help generate sales. A store that operates online does not, so you have to take advantage of some of the tools that could generate a digital footfall for you.

One of the easiest ways is through social media – particularly with platforms like Instagram. The Explore Page is a brilliant tool that could bring you on the radar of so many new customers. What’s more, a social media profile like this is just the thing you need to boost your brand’s presence. It can be used to offer sneak peeks to your customers and other people who might be interested to see what you are up to. Whether you are reposting content from fans or teasing the very next big release you have planned, doing it through social media allows you to reach out to customers both new and loyal all over the world.

Make Response Times Clear

If you have a very small workforce, you are not going to be able to offer 24/7 response times for customer enquiries. Though this is a very noble goal, you need to recognise that there is a time and a place to do it in. You need to make sure that the infrastructure is first in place to help you to respond to other complaints as and when you need to.

Before you are able to offer 24/7 support, you need to make your response times incredibly clear on your contact page. Don’t forget to include your time zone in addition to the period of time. It would be incredibly frustrating for someone to think that they are being ignored when they are actually just halfway around the world from you.

To help mitigate some of this, setting up automatic replies might be a great move. There are so many ways that you can tackle running a business that can cover other countries, but you do need to make sure that you are communicating these differences to your customers, wherever they might be.

The World is Yours

The internet truly is a joyous thing that allows us to reach out to companies all across the world. No matter where a business might be based, it has the potential to sell something to someone who is literally on the other side of the world. However, you as a business owner needs to make sure that this company of yours is always compliant, and always prepared to deal with those issues and hiccups that might come when running a business of this scale.

Can you run a small business on an international platform? Absolutely! So many people are already – so you can be certain that you are in some excellent company. Make sure that your protocols and responses are of the highest of standards, and you should be able to tackle any issue that might come your way head-on.

30% Of Office Workers in London Have Concealed A Mental Health Problem When Calling in Sick

Three-in-ten (30%) office employees have claimed to be physically ill when calling in sick despite in fact suffering from a mental health problem, according to a new survey of 2,000 white-collar employees in London by Helix Resilience, the science-backed employee wellbeing and resilience provider.

The responses show that 18-24-year olds are the most likely to conceal a mental health problem when calling in sick – with 37% of this age group reporting to have done this at least once. This is followed closely by those aged 25-34 (34%) and appears to become less common with increasing age (26% of 35-44 year olds, 19% of 45-54 year olds, and only 13% of those over the age of 55), suggesting a negative correlation between age and difficulty opening up about mental health struggles. 

“Unfortunately, many people still see mental health as a taboo subject, with 44% of those we surveyed stating that there is a stigma attached to a person’s inability to cope with pressure or stress at work. This could lead some individuals to be wary of disclosing the true nature of their illness.

“It’s particularly worrying to see the trend within the younger workforce who may be struggling to cope with their mental health issues and don’t feel able to raise this with their employer.

“Businesses need to focus on destigmatising mental health problems in the workplace so that employees of all levels feel comfortable and empowered to discuss any issues that might impact their ability to perform their role,” said Dr Stephen Pereira, founder and CEO of Helix Resilience.

The recent lockdown has had a big impact on mental health – with 83% of respondents reporting a deterioration in their mental health – and overall the number of women reporting mental health issues during lockdown was higher than men, for example:

  • 32% of men and 42% women were anxious
  • 25% of men and 38% of women felt tired or had little energy
  • 42% of men and 50% of women had suffered sleep disruption

Dr Pereira added: “It’s vital that company culture in respect of mental health begins to change. That starts with educating employees at every level about mental health conditions and how to cope with them.

“Alongside increased awareness, businesses should give their employees the tools and support they need to strengthen their mental wellbeing and resilience. Our research shows that poor motivation and a lack of energy are among the more common side effects of poor mental health.

“If businesses help employees overcome these issues, they will see the results in the overall performance of staff.”

Germany’s Response to COVID-19: What Lessons Can the UK Learn?

A study has been released by the digital health platform, Qunomedical, that ranks the average salaries of healthcare workers across the OECD. While praise of workers tackling COVID-19 from the frontline is encouraging –  it is not a substitute for fair pay. These findings reveal huge disparities in healthcare investment between some of the world’s richest countries.

The study identified three types of medical professionals on the frontline of the COVID – 19 crisis: general practitioners (GP), nurses, and emergency physicians, and uncovered their salaries across the 36 countries in the OECD. These salaries were then converted to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) to allow for comparison between countries. The UK ranks 18th in the OECD for expenditure on healthcare, which stands at £3,357 per capita.  In comparison, Germany ranks fourth, with healthcare spending at £4,791 per capita. This huge disparity indicates the amount of investment needed to execute a prepared and proactive response to the current pandemic, and how far the UK falls short.

Hospital nurses in Germany earn £4,663 more annually than nurses in the UK, and emergency physicians earn  £1,228 more – but this doesn’t take overtime hours into account. In 2019, 3.5% of NHS staff reported more than 11 hours of unpaid weekly overtime, and a staggering 43% reported up to 5 hours [1].

COVID -19 has no doubt led to a surge in these figures this year. The UK is currently the fifth-largest economy in the world. It’s ranking in this index raises vital questions about the value it places on its most crucial form of labour and the workers that sustain it.

Table 1: The salaries of healthcare workers in the UK and Germany. All salaries have been converted to Purchasing Power Parity:

Rank

Country

Salary

General Practitioner

Salary

Hospital Nurse

Salary

Emergency Physicians

5

Germany

£147,950

£44,944

£160,817

13

UK

£128,849

£40,281

£159,590

 

Table 2: The salaries of the 10 countries in the OECD with the highest-paid healthcare workers. All salaries have been converted to Purchasing Power Parity:

Rank

Country

Salary

General Practitioner

Salary

Hospital Nurse

Salary

Emergency Physicians

1

Luxembourg

£213,474

£73,285

£204,541

2

Turkey

£150,533

£89,218

£195,741

3

Norway

£145,351

£57,788

£176,617

4

Australia

£135,772

£55,543

£169,017

5

Germany

£147,950

£44,944

£160,817

6

Iceland

£123,706

£56,984

£154,997

7

Canada

£134,588

£44,430

£169,906

8

United States

£164,238

£51,175

£122,706

9

Japan

£148,763

£29,883

£184,806

10

Ireland

£130,971

£46,510

£162,796

Why It’s Time to Fast-Track Brexit Planning

While it has never really been off the agenda, with less than six months to go until the end of the transition period, businesses have no time to waste in completing their preparations for Brexit. However, some businesses are still underprepared – so where should they start? 

The lockdown restrictions introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic have forced many businesses to pause their everyday activities and react to the unfolding situation. During this time, a key deadline came and went at the end of June 2020, which means an extension to the Brexit transition period is no longer possible. With time rapidly running out for trade negotiators to reach an agreement, businesses are concerned that exiting the EU without a deal is becoming increasingly likely and many are now looking to fast-track their Brexit planning. 

For businesses used to trading in Europe, a key risk is that Brexit could have a destabilising effect on their existing customer and/or supplier relationships. Depending on the scale of their trading activity in Europe, this uncertainty has led some businesses to make changes to their operational footprint, to allow these relationships to continue unaffected, with or without a trade agreement. Undertaking a critical path analysis can identify the pinch points for the existing business model and help focus the attention on what is going to be necessary to continue to trade as seamlessly as possible in 2021.

Given this impending deadline, it is important for businesses to actively decide on their own strategy for the change that is coming, whatever that may look like. Gone is the time for kicking the can down the road, businesses now need to make decisions on how best to approach international trade in 2021, even if that is based on imperfect information. Putting in place any plan, other than do nothing, which for many will not be a viable option, will take time, especially if a decision is made to set up in the EU. The rules of establishment and local regulations can vary considerably between member states, and deciding which jurisdiction is the best fit and implementing the most suitable structure requires considerable care, so businesses where this may be necessary should start now and seek support from advisers with international reach.

Businesses that are currently trading in Europe should also bear in mind that from the end of the year, the UK will no longer fall within the remit of EU tax directives. For example, the Parent-Subsidiary Directive currently allows money to flow from EU subsidiaries to a UK-based parent company, without incurring a withholding tax liability. However, from the start of next year, reliance on tax treaties may result in local withholding tax of between five and 10 percent. Similarly, the removal of the EU Interest and Royalties Directive will affect cross-border interest and royalty payments made into a UK-based corporate entity. To mitigate the impact of these changes, some businesses may wish to transfer cash and make cross-border payments before the end of the year.

Expected changes to the treatment of VAT and customs duties from 1 January 2021 should also be considered, particularly if businesses have an established supply base in mainland Europe and rely on a high volume of cross-border goods movements. Specifically, they should consider mapping their supply chains and pinpointing where tariffs, including import VAT and customs duties, could apply. Customer and supplier contracts should be reviewed carefully to determine which party is the importer of record and the relevant Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers should also be secured.

There is some good news for businesses importing goods to the UK from Europe in that a decision has been taken to defer customs declarations and VAT / customs duty payments by six months to the start of July 2021. Details of the border operating model to be introduced from the start of next year were published on 13 July 2020. Businesses should monitor guidance issued by the Border Delivery Group, HMRC and the Joint Customs Consultative Committee, and review their operational and cash management plans to take account of the incoming changes.

With the end of the transition period in sight, businesses can’t afford to delay their plans for Brexit. By assessing the impact of a no-deal scenario on their operating model and making the right adjustments, they can still be ready on time.

Lockdown Green-Up: Food Waste Down and Recycling Rates Up

It looks like the enforced lockdown has made us better at recycling as we’ve changed the way we deal with our rubbish.

According to one waste management company, it looks like recycling rates have skyrocketed during the lockdown period, and less food being thrown away.

UK based waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk are thrilled with this news, as it shows that households have taken a greener approach to how they deal with their rubbish during these times.

Company spokesman Mark Hall says “It seems as if people have used this extra time to be more considerate with how they dispose of their waste, and being more appreciative of using up all of their food due to the scarcity of supermarket delivery slots.

“It’s great to see that people are managing to keep on top on recycling during these tricky times – it really has to be applauded!”

Recycling leaps by 30%

The amount of recycling being processed in the UK has increased overall by 30%, with a 70% increase in the number of tins and cans processed, a 20% increase in glass recycling in April, and an 80% increase in plastic recycling in May.

But it’s not just the volume of recycling being processed, staff have been impressed with the quality of the items too, with reports of people making the effort to wash their recyclable items properly before binning them – which makes the recycling process much quicker and easier.

Making the most of leftovers

Cast your minds back to the chaos in supermarkets at the end of March, when pasta was considered as rare as diamonds and toilet paper could be used as currency.

People began to cherish the food they could get their hands on, because for a good week or two it really did seem like we were entering a pandemic food shortage.

But this initial panic buying blip at the start of the lockdown has given way to the new way we view our food as a precious resource, with 30% of people saying they have started saving their leftovers, and a third of people saying they are getting more creative with their meals.

Hall: “People have been making more informed choices when it comes to their food shop, only buying the things they know they will actually use and making the most of what they have left.”

  • Mother of three Linda in Sheffield says, “I’ve had to get a bit creative with meals for the kids, I really wanted to make the most of what we had lurking in the cupboard, so I’ve made up a dish called ‘cowboy surprise’. It’s essentially a shepherd’s pie but with beans, mince or whatever we’ve got – they love it!”

Others have tried their hand at meal-prepping and batch cooking to fill the freezer with ready to cook meals, and 33% of UK shoppers have said that lockdown has encouraged them to use their freezer more.

Better tip habits

With people having more time on their hands, household waste recycling centres have been more popular than ever, which in turn has created an influx of recyclable goods.

Although local recycling centres were closed at the end of March, many tips are reporting that since reopening in May they have been operating at ‘post-Christmas levels’ due to the high demand.

This was definitely the case in Birmingham when a queue of 150 cars had already gathered three hours before the tip had officially reopened, with the police having to help manage the traffic.

And in Hampshire, demand for tips has become so overwhelming that local councils have put in place a scheme where you have to book a ‘drop-off’ slot online, with only one slot available per household per week.

Company spokesman Mark Hall says “It’s a shame it took the shake-up of a global pandemic for people to change their waste habits, but it’s still brilliant news and we hope to see these behaviours become the new normal.”

The UK is a European Hub for Innovation in 3D Printing

A new study from the European Patent Office (EPO) reveals the United Kingdom as a leading European country in additive manufacturing (AM) innovation, also known as 3D printing.

The United Kingdom accounts for 5% of AM patent applications at the European Patent Office (EPO), putting it in second place behind Germany with 19%. European patent applications for AM increased at an average annual rate of 36% from 2015 to 2018. This is more than ten times greater than the average yearly growth of all applications at the Office combined in the same period (3.5%). The report, entitled “Patents and additive manufacturing – Trends in 3D printing technologies”, further demonstrates that Europe is a global leader in AM, with European inventors and businesses accounting for almost half of AM patent applications filed with the EPO in the period from 2010 to 2018.

“The surge in additive manufacturing is part of the broader, rapid rise of digital technologies overall, confirming that the digital transformation of the economy is fully reflected in patent applications reaching the EPO,” said EPO President António Campinos. “Europe has become a global hub for innovation in fast-growing digital fields, including additive manufacturing technologies. This strength is clearly reflected in the list of top AM applicants, with European inventors and businesses submitting almost half of the patent applications in the past decade.”

Europe at the forefront with UK as highly specialised player

The report shows that European countries account for 47% (or 7 863) of all AM inventions for which patent applications were filed at the EPO in the period from 2010 to 2018. Europe’s leading position is largely attributable to Germany’s performance, with the country generating 19% (or 3 155) of all patent applications in AM, followed by the United Kingdom with 5% (833 patent applications), which exceeds its share in patenting in all technologies at the EPO. At numbers three to five, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland exhibit similar contributions of around 4%. The United Kingdom shows a high degree of specialisation in AM patenting with an RTA (revealed technological advantage) index of 1.2, which is one of the highest of all European countries, particularly in the digital aspects of AM and in AM application domains. The data also shows that Derby is at number seven in a ranking of 15 major European AM innovation centres and by far the most important British region.

Biggest sectors for AM patent applications are health, energy and transportation

The study’s data further indicate that the impact of AM technologies spans a large variety of industries. Since 2010 the use of AM in the health sector has generated the greatest demand for patents (4 018 applications), followed by energy and transportation, both filing significant patent application volumes (2 001 and 961 applications respectively). Rapid growth was also observed in areas such as industrial tooling, electronics, construction and consumer goods, and the food sector.
(Fig.: AM applications at the EPO by application domain, 2010-2018)

Applicants from all industries – Rolls-Royce third largest European filer

This diversity of sectors is also reflected in the profile of the top applicants at the EPO. The analysis shows that the top 25 applicants accounted for about 30% (or 6 548) of all AM patent applications filed between 2000 and 2018. Led by large US firms General Electric and United Technologies, with Europe’s Siemens in third place, the list is comprised of a highly diverse range of players from many different technology fields such as transportation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, information technology, electronics, imaging and consumer goods, as well as pure 3D-printing specialists such as Stratasys, 3D Systems and EOS. Rolls-Royce, with 248 EP applications, is at number seven and the third largest company if only European companies are considered, followed by Renishaw and BAE as the second and third biggest UK applicants. The US and Europe also dominate the ranking overall, with 11 US and eight European companies among the top 25 applicants.

Significant contribution from smaller players

While two out of three patent applications in AM technologies were filed by very large companies, the study also reveals that companies with 15 to 1 000 employees accounted for 10% (or 2 148) of applications, individual inventors and small businesses with fewer than 15 employees generated 12% (or 2 584), and were responsible for over 11% (or 2 448), making these three cohorts significant actors in the AM innovation ecosystem. These findings are reflected in the figures for the United Kingdom where very large companies account for 63% of patent applications in AM technologies, followed by inventors and small businesses of up to 15 employees and universities, hospitals and public research organisations with both 14% and companies of up to 1 000 with 8%. British SMEs with notable activity in AM innovation are, among others, Embody Orthopaedic, a University College London spin-out, Fuel 3D technologies and Metalysis.

How the Green New Deal Could Save Public Transit Industry Post COVID

Those who live in cities are getting used to a new normal. The sidewalks are empty, and would-be public transit riders are following stay-at-home orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the transportation sector has taken a significant hit.

 

The State of the Public Transportation Industry

In New York City, home of the nation’s largest subway system, ridership was down more than 18% in March compared to last year — an average of 948,000 fewer trips than a typical weekday. Seattle’s Sound Transit, which included buses, light rail and commuter rail, saw a 25% drop in ridership compared to the month before.

San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit also saw a ridership decline of 35%, a drop that will cost the public transit system $600,000 per weekday. Metropolitan areas across the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Austin and Boston, are facing similar issues.

Unfortunately, this problem extends beyond the United States. In London, the Underground system will only carry 13 to 15% of the passengers that it typically does due to social distancing guidelines. The Netherlands claims their regional rail lines will cut down to 20 to 25% capacity. With these numbers calculated near the beginning of the pandemic, public transit is likely faring even worse now, months later.

According to transit expert Yonah Freemark, “Transit agencies should be planning for virtually no fare revenue over the coming months.” With fewer riders paying for passes, and increased operational costs due to the sanitization of vehicles and facilities, many systems have reduced their service offerings.

All of these numbers paint a gloomy picture for the future of the transit industry. However, one upcoming piece of legislation, the Green New Deal, could bring new life to the sector.

 

What Is the Green New Deal and How Will It Help?

The Green New Deal is a potential policy that outlines a path towards net-zero carbon emissions, sustainable infrastructure and new eco-friendly jobs. Infrastructure will need to move away from fossil-fuel use and take advantage of materials and building techniques that aren’t as disruptive to the environment.

Part of the legislation will be to get cars off the road and encourage people to use public transit instead, even offering incentives to do so. The policy would also improve public transit accessibility, increasing options for suburban communities and encouraging residential development around regional rail and bus transit hubs.

Many municipalities will look to incorporate greener versions of public transit, too. Some cities have already adopted electric and hybrid buses, reducing the amount of CO2 emissions. Others encourage the use of motorcoaches for regional transportation, which offer 222.7 miles per gallon, more efficient than heavy rail and passenger cars.

The Green New Deal would funnel much-needed money into the transit sector, one that will see a shortfall of up to $40,000 annually due to the coronavirus. Beyond this legislation, 52 members of Congress signed a letter on March 20th requesting that the stimulus bill include $16 billion for transit systems. Leaders from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) determined that this amount was necessary to sustain the sector’s financial viability. Policymakers ultimately added $20 billion.

 

The Future of Public Transit in the U.S. and Worldwide

Public transportation will undoubtedly take a hit as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, especially as no one can predict how long the crisis will hold out. Fewer people are riding buses, trains and light rail, and systems have shut down entire lines in response. Unfortunately, the people who rely on public transit to get around — such as essential workers and those in urban areas without cars — are seeing the biggest disadvantage.

The Green New Deal could be a boon for the stumbling sector, one that allocates more money toward transit, moves towards greener methods and improves accessibility for all.

Lisbon Over London – The Safest EU Cities For Working Professionals Relocating After Lockdown

The latest research by Spotahome, the international rental marketplace, has highlighted which of Europe’s most popular capital cities for working professionals is home to the best mix of rental affordability and safety; for those looking to move once travel lockdown restrictions have eased.

Spotahome attributed each city with a safety rental score, based on a combination of its safety rating and the monthly cost of renting an apartment in the city centre, to find which cities offered the most affordable option with the greatest peace of mind.

Lisbon tops the table with a very respectable safety index score of 72 and an average monthly rent of £803, resulting in an overall safety rental score of 11.1. The Spanish capital of Madrid ranks second, with a safety index score of 70 and an average monthly rent of £886 resulting in a score of 12.7 overall.

Other cities to rank highly include Berlin (13.9), Brussels (15.1) and Rome (17.5).

London remains one of the most popular cities in the world, but with a safety index score of 48 and an eye-watering average monthly rent of £1,762, the UK capital sits at the other end of the table scoring 37.1.  

Perhaps more surprisingly, Dublin ranks just above London with an overall score of 30, just behind Paris (22.1).

City

Nation

Safety Index Score

Average Monthly Rent (1 bed city centre apartment)

Rental Safety Index Score

Lisbon

Portugal

72

£803

11.1

Madrid

Spain

70

£886

12.7

Berlin

Germany

59

£821

13.9

Brussels

Belgium

50

£755

15.1

Rome

Italy

48

£842

17.5

Paris

France

48

£1,066

22.1

Dublin

Ireland

51

£1,526

30.0

London

UK

48

£1,762

37.1

Rental safety index score based on the average rent per month divided by the overall safety index score.

Angela Merkel Needs to Create a Unified Digital Strategy in Europe

The digital Engagement of European Heads of State and Government varies widely. This is one of the main results of the first Digital Engagement Report that has been published by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness today. The objective of the Digital Engagement Report is to highlight the importance of Heads of State and Government in the digital transformation of their countries as well as to investigate what topics of digitalization the Heads of State and Government are engaged in. The Digital Engagement Report 2020 provides an in-depth analysis of all 27 European Heads of State and Government’s digital focus areas.

European Heads of State and Government approach digitization with very different focus. Estonia, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are most engaged on the level of Head of State and Government, while Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia are least engaged.

Digital technologies have different importance throughout Europe. In 2019, Estonia’s Jüri Ratas spent more than 5 times more time on the topic than Slovenia’s Marjan Sarec or Hungary’s Victor Orbán. Also, there is no harmonized European approach on digital technologies, with every country setting its own agenda. Key future technologies, such as Quantum Computing and Robotics, are disregarded by most European Heads of State and Government.

Europe needs an integrated strategy for digital technologies

“Digitization in Europe is still patchwork”, says Professor Philip Meissner of the European Center for Digital Competitiveness by ESCP Business School Berlin and adds: “How well Europe is able to position itself in terms of digital technologies will determine its future economic power and geopolitical position. We finally need an integrated and forceful approach to push this topic throughout Europe. In a nutshell, we need a digital strategy. Such a push should include attention by top leaders in the field of Entrepreneurship and Digital Education”.

European Heads of State and Government have clear topic focused profiles

Individual engagement profiles reveal: Angela Merkel is focused mostly on digital infrastructure while neglecting Entrepreneurship. Emmanuel Macron puts Artificial Intelligence and Entrepreneurship in the spotlight.

European priorities for digital technologies could push joint implementation

“Given the scale of the challenge and the speed of technological progress, we need European priorities to finally enable large scale investments in future technologies“, says Dr. Christian Poensgen of the European Center for Digital Competitiveness by ESCP Business School Berlin. “Europe needs to act now”.

MariMatic to deliver Automatic Waste Collection to the City of Amsterdam

MariMatic has, through a public tender process, been chosen by the city of Amsterdam as the supplier of an Automatic Waste Collection System (AWCS) for the new residential area in Sluisbuurt. The system utilizes MariMatic’s unique energy efficient MetroTaifun® technology with non-corrosive pipe networks.

Sluisbuurt is a new neighborhood in Amsterdam located on the Zeeburgereiland and it will comprise of 5500 new homes and include schools, shops and offices. In addition to the OAT system (Dutch acronym for automatic waste collection system AWCS), the area will be equipped with other kind of sustainable technologies, such as district heating from renewable energy.

Waste is collected and transported directly from the buildings through an underground pipe network by using vacuum conveying to a waste transfer terminal, eliminating noisy and polluting traditional waste trucks from the area. Four different waste fractions are collected to separate containers located in the waste transfer terminal. The containers will then later on be picked up for further distribution to recycling centers etc.

The waste transfer terminal, which is part of the scope of the contract, called “The Diamond”, will be located in the park. The building is designed with high sustainability in mind, including solar panels, rainwater collection and even a charging point for the service cars. Part of the walls will be glass, giving the public possibility to view the pneumatic collection in action. 

The public tender in Amsterdam was focused on technology, reliability, performance, quality, and a technical life cycle of 60 years. MariMatic’s technology and solutions achieved maximum scores.

MariMatic is known for the usage of 300 mm diameter “composite piping”, instead of the commonly used 500 mm carbon steel piping systems. Due to absence of corrosion, longer life cycle of the systems is achieved. Interruptions of possible blockages are minimized, as the waste easier fills up the pipe, giving higher vacuum force for conveying. Development of MariMatic’s formator technology enable use of larger waste bags (150 liter) in 300 mm size piping. MariMatic’s patented Ring-Line configuration allows change of air flow direction, to facilitate removal of possible blockages. 

Recently, MariMatic was also awarded contracts to supply Automatic Waste Collection Systems for the two new residential areas in Sweden, Förseglet, Västerås and Haga Norra, Stockholm. The order value of these together with the Amsterdam contract exceeds 30 million euros. 

MariMatic is a technology company, developing and marketing vacuum pipe conveying systems. Development of the products and solutions began in 1983 and since then, over 1000 systems have been delivered to over 40 countries.

Physical Therapy at its Best

The importance of maintaining a healthy body has only become
more important as time has gone on and enlisting the help of experts from all
walks of life has become the norm. The value of a good physical therapist
cannot be understated, and Remco Idema of eFysio is one of the best, being
recognised as Leading Provider of Mobile Physical Therapy Services in EU
Business News’ European Enterprise Awards 2019. We look a little closer to find
out more.

Based in the Netherlands, Remco Idema has made his business
into one that is recognised and highly regarded across the industry. With a
focus on fixing the problem, not the symptoms, it’s no surprise that he has
managed to achieve great things in the last few years.

There are many factors that set Remco apart from his
competitors, but first and foremost amongst these is the tailored service that
he is able to provide his clients with. Over a sixty-minute session, he has
proven time and time again that he is able to put problems to rights, with
online support, exercises and agenda to ensure that clients are supported
continuously.

While boasting a broad array of positive reviews, Remco has
the confidence to offer his services for the first session free of charge.
Coming to your home, it gives all parties the opportunity to get to know each
other better. For Remco, this meeting is the chance to understand what
complaints his clients have with their bodies, and for the client, it is an
opportunity to have the methodology of eFysio explained in depth. This proven
method allows everyone to know where they stand.

Of course, Remco is aware that physical therapy is not the
only solution to a problem, and instead of wasting any time can be trusted to
suggest alternative routes that will lead to alleviated pain. This might
involve going to see a specialist or a doctor. For many, what Remco is able to
offer is the chance to unload a mental burden as well as a physical one. The
human body is fundamentally interconnected, and the wellbeing of the body has
an enormous impact on the brain. As such, the services that Remco offers can
have an incredible effect in a short period of time, breaking vicious circles
and allowing people to meet their true potential.

Much of this assistance is due to Remco’s own experiences.
As an experienced water sportsman, he has an uncanny ability to meet his
patients where they are. It is this customer-oriented approach that has brought
him and his business such amazing success. Instead of trying to get through as
many patients as possible, Remco’s vision is to ensure that the patient has the
space to see what has gone wrong and the physiotherapist has the space to find
the best possible solution. With this in mind, it is no wonder that he has made
such an impact.

Of course, the role of physiotherapist has remained
consistent, but Remco has found ways in which to revolutionise the practice.
His app allows patients to contact him when they want, with various training
plans, including videos, that allow them the ultimate freedom to

get better at their own pace. It is this approach, one which
adapts physiotherapy to be fit for the patient of today, that has proven to be
Remco’s success.

When thinking about physiotherapy, it is easy to consider it
a service that must be worked around, limited to strictly held appointments.
Remco’s philosophy places the client at the forefront, making his service
unparalleled and his results exceptional.

Company: eFysio

Contact: Remco Idema

Website: https://www.efysio.nl/

EU Business News Q2 2020

Welcome to the Q2 edition of EU Business News. We are a quarterly publication designed to showcase the latest updates and insights from across the European Union. 


It’s been an incredibly challenging few months. Here at EU Business News – an online publication- we have been fortunate that the move to remote working was a reasonably easy decision to make. For others, its been a time of incredibly swift changes. These changes, so often needing considerable thought and resources, have had to happen almost literally overnight. Many have had to fundamentally change how they conduct business, and how their employees work. Others have been thrust into uncertainty, trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy and continuation. 


Traditional businesses have had to pivot. Brick and mortar establishments have had to become online and agile. Manufacturing companies have moved towards – wherever possible – helping combat the impact of COVID-19 in their localities. It’s been an unprecedented time. Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst of it, and with lessons learned and new infrastructure and preparations in place, we can move forward more robust. More prepared. 


Despite all of this, the EU’s entrepreneurial spirit lives on, even when the rest of the world has stopped at a standstill. Recovery might take time but recover we shall, that much is certain.


The team at EU Business News sincerely hope you stay safe and well. 

Vodafone Germany and CommScope Bring Higher Speeds into the Connected Home

CommScope today announced that more than one million Vodafone
Germany subscribers are using CommScope’s DOCSIS 3.1 Touchstone®TG3442 Gateway in
their homes, enabling download speeds of up to 1Gbit/s. These customers have
opted for next generation broadband technology, DOCSIS 3.1, enabling them to
take advantage of emerging technologies such as cloud gaming, virtual reality
entertainment and 4K video streaming services across the home.

The industry continues
to see a 20-30 percent average increase in
bandwidth use every year, as people tap into more connected technology to work
from home, online learning, video chatting, live gaming, and TV. By deploying
CommScope’s DOCSIS 3.1 modems, Vodafone Germany customers will have improved
broadband speed, lower latency and increased energy efficiency.

To enable such speeds and smart capacity management, Vodafone
Germany is using CommScope’s DOCSIS 3.1 system, supported by its E6000
converged cable access platform (CCAP). This means Vodafone Germany can deliver
the high speeds its customers require, with intelligent software-driven
orchestration to manage capacity and connectivity, as well as providing
best-in-class analytics on network performance.

The 1Gbit/s deviceoffers unparalleled WAN and LAN
network performance and serves as the hub of service delivery in the
subscriber’s home; providing high-speed data, voice and IP video to wired and
Wi-Fi® connected devices.

“Today, more than ever, people expect their connectivity to be
there no matter if they are working from home, the kids are playing games or if
they are finishing their eLearning assignments,” said Phil Sorsky, senior vice
president of Service Providers for EMEA, CommScope. “Vodafone Germany is laying
the framework for a new connected world as we see how crucial the Internet is
in keeping our society functioning in the face of rapid and unpredictable
change.”

All product names, trademarks and registered trademarks are property
of their respective owners.

Discover more at www.commscope.com.

The “Next Generation EU”

EU fiscal union only a possibility because UK is exiting – Kames Capital.

The “Next Generation EU” initiative
could go down in history as the moment that the collective states of the EU
dipped their toes into fiscal union waters, thanks in no small part to Brexit
and the coronavirus crisis, according to Sandra Holdsworth at Kames Capital.

The initiative involves raising
€750bn from the public debt markets to fund a series of grants and loans to be
spent across the EU on a number of initiatives. The immediate financing comes
from the bond markets but the EU debt will have to be repaid in the future.

To do this the European Union will
have to raise revenue, increasing what is known as ‘additional new own
resources,’ something that Holdsworth, Head of Rates at Kames, believes would
not have been possible if the UK were still a member state.

“What is interesting is whether this
could have ever been possible if the UK had still been a member of the EU. The
UK almost certainly would be a net contributor rather than beneficiary from the
programme.

“As we know from history, the UK had
regular form for rejecting EU ever-closer-union ambitions. In 2011 David
Cameron’s infamous treaty veto prevented a deal to solve the euro crisis of the
time. EU contributions could double under the current plans. In a world where
Brexit never happened, it would have been highly likely for the UK similarly to
veto the plan.”

The money will be distributed according to a number of programmes with some countries benefiting and some countries contributing. The size of the current plan is to increase the ceiling on member country contributions to closer to 2% of country level GDP, as compared with the existing budget of around 1% GDP. It could be the first of a series depending how electorally and politically popular it becomes says Holdsworth.

“There is a direct fiscal transfer of
€300bn from contributors to beneficiaries. This, if it is agreed upon will be a
significant moment in the EU‘s history. It goes some way to remove the
existential risk of the Euro and thus the financing premium that some countries
pay for debt.”

“It starts to remove the country risk
for investment as EU members are more closely intertwined financially. The
chances of sovereign debt crises begin to recede leading to a more stable
economic environment across the EU and benefitting the region as a whole.”

Three key figures all women
– have decided that now is the time when the EU should take the first steps
towards fiscal union, the part that needs to evolve if the monetary union is
going to be sustained.

This is not ‘complete union’ but a
step in that direction, binding the nations of the European Union ever closer
as they make joint financial liabilities in pursuit of funding economic
recovery.

“The European Union President, Ursula
von der Leyen, presented the first draft of the EU recovery plan “Next
Generation EU.’

“This comes after the worst health
crisis for 100 years, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and
at a time when the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde,
has been telling her political masters that the Central Bank will do what it
can, but is running out of monetary ammunition.

“None of this has passed Angela
Merkel by. The Chancellor of Germany, arguably the most influential leader
amongst EU nations and the leader of the richest country in the Union is in her
last full year of power.”

“The three most powerful women in
Europe will be delighted to have avoided a Britain-shaped obstacle, allowing
them to take the step no one thought possible. Ironically, many UK commentators
forecasted the demise of the EU post the UK departure.

“I would suggest the opposite, the
absence of the UK has made a stable EU economic environment more likely. The UK
government and their Brexit negotiators should take note. All is still to be
debated and agreed upon of course, but this could be the genesis of an era of
larger EU budgets with tax and spending powers.”

Retail trading broker AvaTrade opens its eleventh office in Poland

Retail trading broker AvaTrade opens its eleventh
office in Poland, providing dedicated customer support and training in Polish
and under local regulation

AvaTrade, an award-winning forex and CFD broker, has announced the
opening of its latest office in Warsaw, Poland. This expansion adds to
AvaTrade’s growing international presence, including offices in Dublin, Milan, Tokyo and Sydney,
and is a significant step forward in the broker’s aim to accommodate the needs
of traders internationally.

The establishment of the new office, which follows another recent
opening in Abu Dhabi, will mean AvaTrade’s Polish clients can enjoy a
localised trading experience – with enhanced customer support and training in
their native language and under local regulation. The new office will be led by
Branch Manager Patryk Schulmeister, who brings over a decade’s experience
in the online media, marketing and sales fields.

Dáire Ferguson, CEO at AvaTrade, comments: “AvaTrade is committed
to empowering people from across the globe to trade in a safe, innovative and
reliable environment. The opening of our Polish office will see local traders
benefit from a richer trading experience, backed by our best-in-class service,
dedicated support and custom-made solutions to fit their trading requirements
in their local language. Under Patryk’s direction, I have no doubt this new
endeavour will see our Polish business go from strength to strength.”

Schulmeister adds: “I am thrilled to be leading AvaTrade’s Polish
branch and very much look forward to contributing to the business’s growth here
in Warsaw. Given AvaTrade’s success across the globe, I have no doubt its
products will resonate similarly in Poland and anticipate an exciting
year ahead.”

https://www.avatrade.com

Why the Fight to Save Economies from Coronavirus Mustn’t Cost the Earth

As
policy shifts towards fighting the global pandemic, green concerns are in
danger of being side-lined,  Gilles Moec says. 

“The
coronavirus has left us facing two trends when it comes to global warming.
First, the risk that green concerns disappear from the collective consciousness
for a while, seen as an unaffordable luxury in an era when we are “re-couping”
the lost growth of 2020 and avoiding a lasting depression. After all, this is
something which could be a priority for several years.

“Second,
the opposite risk of seeing public opinion react to the pandemic with a generic
rejection of globalisation, embracing alternative economic models which at
first glance could reduce CO2 emissions, but at a massive cost to global
economic growth.

“In
this “de-growth” scenario, the lack of a recovery seemingly becomes the main
tool against global warming, although we would question whether it would be
politically and socially acceptable that we should collectively forfeit any
rebound from the current recession in 2021 and then accept a decade-long
recession, for example.

“We
suspect that the associated social and geopolitical costs would be on par with
those of global warming. There is nothing like an actual recession to make
“de-growth” less appealing.

“We
use a simple statistical illustration to reject both. At the current trend in
carbon intensity – unit of carbon per unit of GDP – we think it is reasonable
to expect that under our baseline for world GDP growth we could see CO2
emissions transitorily fall by 6% this year.

“This
is still very far from the rate of decline consistent with the “emissions
envelope” calculated by the GIC (Global Investor Coalition) which would keep
global warming under 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. Indeed, we would
need to see a further fall of 13% by 2030. And obviously the recovery which we
expect for 2021 would see a rebound in CO2 emissions (such a pattern was
observed in 2009-2010).

“This
means that the ongoing recession is having only a very marginal impact on how
we are consuming our “carbon envelope” and is not giving us “more time” to deal
with global warming.

“The
issue has not gone away magically because of the pandemic. Additional efforts
at speeding up the decarbonisation of our economies are necessary and cannot be
postponed, or very quickly we will face a stark choice between accepting to
“let go” on curbing global warming, with the associated environmental, social
and geopolitical costs, or accepting a phase of durable recession.

“The
solution comes from investments. Global capex could be a lasting victim of the
current recession, but at the same time, the European Commission estimates the
investment effort needed to deliver the green transition at 2 to 3% of annual
GDP. A lot of those “transition investments” are not immediately profitable –
that is part of revealing the true cost of the negative externality which
global warming ultimately is.

“But
we can draw on the low level of interest rates, which is also likely to be a
lasting consequence of the current recession. A European Climate Emergency Fund modelled
on the European Stability Mechanism, which would issue front-loaded joint, very
long-term debt and whose proceeds would be used to fund green transition
projects undertaken by governments or corporations, could be the answer.
Although it sounds far-fetched right now, there is an opportunity to reconcile
economic growth, curbing global warming and making much needed progress on
European fiscal integration via such a fund.

“It
was probably unavoidable that Green concerns get side-lined at the peak of the
policy fight against the pandemic, for both logistical and efficiency reasons.
The risk now is to lose track of them entirely as we design the medium-term
support to our economies.” 

About AXA Investment Managers 
AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) is an active, long-term, global multi-asset
investor. We work with clients today to provide the solutions they need to help
build a better tomorrow for their investments, while creating a positive change
for the world in which we all live. With approximately €801 billion in assets
under management as at end of December 2019, AXA IM employs over 2,360
employees around the world and operates out of 28 offices across 20 countries.
AXA IM is part of the AXA Group, a world leader in financial protection and
wealth management.

Visit our website: www.axa-im.com  

Disney+ has Lockdown Bonanza in Europe

As Disney announces a record 54 million subscribers for its streaming service Disney+ mobile traffic soars, according to network data from Enea

From just over a month since its European debut, mobile video traffic from new streaming service Disney+ has reached 7 Exabytes per month according to data from Enea. On Tuesday May 5th Disney confirmed that it has secured 54 million subscribers within days – providing relief to parents with children off from school – and creating headaches for mobile operators who have to juggle the exponential demand for data during nationwide lockdowns.

The analysis of the traffic from Enea is based on live data gathered from over 40 networks globally. In North America and Europe, Disney+ currently represents 1.2% to 2.2% of all mobile video traffic. Netflix – which was launched in Europe in 2012 and a few years earlier in the US – accounts for 7% to 15%.  As a new entrant to the mobile video ecosystem, Disney+ has achieved an impressive presence in just a matter of a few weeks. In terms of specific network protocols such as HTTP, Disney+ now features within the top-10 mobile video applications according to data volume across the territories in which the service has launched. As such, the future potential of Disney’s streaming service is a matter of great interest to all mobile operators.

The intensifying streaming wars and the meteoric rise of Disney+ mirrors the findings of a separate global study that was conducted by research firm Censuswide for Enea. The researchers interviewed 5,000 mobile subscribers across the USA, UK, Japan and the UAE. They found that 1 in 3 people (29%) were planning on subscribing to Disney’s streaming service.

For wireless operators, there is even more mobile video traffic to come as consumers continue to cut the cord and shun traditional broadcast technology in favor of Over-The-Top media services (OTTs). The survey revealed that 41% of respondents would consider getting rid of their multichannel cable or satellite TV service and only use the likes of YouTube, Netflix and Disney+.

As a customer acquisition strategy, OTTs have already explored mobile-only pricing in emerging markets, and Netflix has launched mobile-specific plans in India, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. These could prove hugely popular as the survey revealed that 39% of subscribers who currently watch mobile video would opt for a mobile-only subscription to services such as Netflix, Disney + and Apple TV +.

John Giere, President, Enea Openwave said: “Some operators in Europe’s hardest hit regions have already experienced twice the usual amount of peak throughput during the lockdowns. While most of the OTT traffic from the likes of Netflix and Disney+ is currently running over Wi-Fi, this additional video traffic will very likely shift to wireless as lockdowns are eased.”  

Giere concluded: “There was already more OTT video traffic on mobile networks than ever before, even before Disney+ came along. Operators have to perform a delicate balancing act with available resources and not allow congestion to ruin the video experience for many. That requires the ability to detect and manage network congestion dynamically, rather than resorting to brute-force video optimization. The operators that have applied this methodology have seen significant reductions in RAN congestion and improved the video experience for subscribers.”

How Much Importance Does Paper Hold in our Digital World?

In more recent times, innovative designers have been striving to discover ways in which paper and technology can work together to create ground-breaking designs. Paper most certainly hasn’t lost its place in the digital world, and these designs are here to prove it. Whether you’re looking to enhance your digital experience, simplify it, or take a digital detox without experiencing the dreaded nomophobia (the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone), good old-fashioned paper offers a solution. Read on to discover some ways that the world of print has interacted with that of technology to fantastic effect and prepare to rethink the possibilities of print.

In more recent times, innovative
designers have been striving to discover ways in which paper and technology can
work together to create ground-breaking designs. Paper most certainly hasn’t
lost its place in the digital world, and these designs are here to prove it.
Whether you’re looking to enhance your digital experience, simplify it, or take
a digital detox without experiencing the dreaded nomophobia (the irrational
fear of being without your mobile phone), good old-fashioned paper offers a
solution. Read on to discover some ways that the world of print has interacted
with that of technology to fantastic effect and prepare to rethink the
possibilities of print.

Out of The Box

The Out of the Box
project by Samsung was initially thought-up as a way to help elderly people
embrace smartphones and empower more people to interact with smart technology.
After conducting consumer research, it became clear that it wasn’t necessarily
stubbornness that was stopping the older demographic to engage with smart
phones, nor was it a lack of skill. In many cases, it was the complex manuals
that were becoming a barrier between older people and their smartphones.

In answer to this, the set-up
manual underwent a redesign in order to replicate something more familiar — a
book. The book that was designed allowed users to set up their phone one step
at a time. With the phone itself (as well as parts such as the SIM card) embedded
in the pages of the book, printed arrows could link the simplified instructions
directly to the part of the screen to which they referred. In order to set up
their phone, users simply must flick through the book, page by page, following
the instructions as they go. By the time they reach the last page, voila! Phone
set-up complete.

The Out of the Box project was a huge
success. It was the only phone manual that has ever been featured in the Museum
of Modern Art in New York, so it must have been doing something right! This is
a brilliant example of thinking outside the box and using something familiar,
like a printed book, to help embrace the unfamiliar.

Paper Phone

This next design is Special
Projects’ answer to nomophobia. It is a simple, yet effective idea that allows
users keep the important elements of their phone they really need, while still
taking a much-needed digital detox.

After
downloading the Paper Phone app, users can select certain elements of their
phone that they need for that day, such as essential contacts, a map of where
they’re headed to, or a couple of calendar days and appointments, and these
elements will then be used to create a ‘paper phone’. After selecting the
elements that you wish to keep, you can then create a PDF or print directly
from your phone. The app does all of the work for you, laying out the
information you’ve requested in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read
format.

There you have
it! You can venture into the outside world, paper phone in hand, ready for
anything, yet not reliant on technology.

DIY Lamp

Our final
example of the unlikely collision of paper and tech is the DIY
paper lamp
from Bare Collective. Following the theme of simple ideas, this
design harnesses the power of origami. The idea of transforming a single piece
of paper into a functioning light sounds bizarre, but Bare Collective’s
easy-to-use guide (AKA, the Electric Paint Lamp Kit) includes everything you
could possibly need. Within the kit, there is a circuit board, six LED lights,
a micro USB plug and electrically conductive paint.

From this kit,
users can easily construct a functioning light with a sleek minimalist design —
it even includes a touch-sensitive switch for the LED lights! The simplicity of
this accessible design allows anyone to construct something impressive. The
company explained, “The assembly process is really easy so anyone can succeed
in creating their own lamp. And it’s got the built in the excitement of using
Electric Paint to bring some magic into the design, with absolutely no
electronics experience.”

There is
certainly magic in the simplicity of paper. Even in more traditional ways, from
posters to business cards, we are clearly still relent on this product.

Although we are
racing forward into a world powered by technologies, there is clearly still a
place for the tangible — as well as fantastic ways in which the two can work
together!

Bio:

Where
The Trade Buys, is a UK based business offering
expertise in printing with bases in London, Sunderland
and Surrey.

What is Carbon Offsetting and why is it important?

One of the biggest challenges the UK is
facing is how to tackle the issue of climate change. As our populations and
economies grow, the environment is feeling the strain of our increased energy
needs. This means we all need to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint,
and quickly.

For many of us, this journey towards a
greener way of life has already started, whether that’s choosing to recycle, reducing
the amount of plastic we use, using LPG
or even turning down the thermostat in our home by one degree – there’s a
growing number of people dedicated to lowering their environmental impact.

Yet more action is needed. Last year
the UK government announced plans to achieve ‘Net Zero’ status by the year 2050[1], a
target which aims to stop the UK from contributing to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, public
awareness on how this will be achieved is still lacking. In fact, a recent
report from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau found that just 38 per cent of us are
aware we’ll need to change the way our home is heated if we’re to achieve this
goal.[2]

The result is that, until we are
entirely carbon neutral, we’ll be unable to avoid creating a carbon a footprint
on some scale. From heating our homes and offices, to driving our cars or even making
a cup of tea, it’s inevitable that we can’t always live up to the green
standards we’d like to.

For those looking to combat these inescapable emissions,
there is a solution – and it’s called Carbon Offsetting. Here,
we look through the benefits and how it can help us lead a greener life.

What is Carbon Offsetting?

Carbon Offsetting provides an answer to
the day-to-day emissions we create that can’t be prevented. A process in which
people compensate their emissions by funding projects that provide sustainable
development in communities around the world. These projects offer an equivalent
reduction in emissions to those you create; either counteracting or absorbing
carbon dioxide and bringing balance to the environment.

It’s a strategy that’s already been
adopted by many big brands from around the world, including the likes of
EasyJet[3], Shell[4] and Gucci[5], who all now use Carbon Offsetting
to help improve the environmental impact of their businesses.

Why is Carbon Offsetting important?

Carbon Offsetting is
important because it allows people to make a positive contribution to the
environment when their emissions can’t be avoided.

In addition, the increased
funding these causes receive can change lives, bringing economic, social and
health improvements to whole communities. With people at the heart of Carbon
Offsetting, as well as ecosystems, it allows us to begin future proofing for a cleaner,
greener world. 

Why should I choose to Carbon Offset my
emissions?

We all have a part to play in
achieving a low-carbon future and for homeowners, this means being given the
chance to balance their carbon footprint. For the environmentally conscious and
those looking to reduce their impact on the climate, Carbon Offsetting gives
them the tools to make a difference. Whilst it shouldn’t be used as a
stand-alone approach and is best used as part of a wider carbon reduction
strategy, it will help people reduce their impact on the environment.

How do I offset the carbon
emissions I can’t control?

The beneficiaries of Carbon
Offsetting could be anything from helping some of the poorest households in
West Africa to access eco-friendly cooking equipment, to supplying clean
hydroelectric power to the local grid in rural China, the options are diverse.
One example is the Kariba REDD+ Forest Protection project in Zimbabwe, Africa.
Since its launch in 2011, it’s avoided more than 18 million tonnes of carbon
dioxide from being released into the atmosphere and has prevented deforestation
in an area of nearly 750,000 hectares.

While Carbon Offsetting might
not be the only answer, it’s part of a much bigger solution. It’s true that
many of us are already doing our bit in all areas of life to reduce our carbon footprint
but choosing great initiatives such as Carbon Offsetting is yet another step in
the right direction. By supporting worthy sustainability projects that deliver
quantifiable greenhouse gas reductions, we can all play our part in securing
the future of the planet.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law

[2]https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/Energy/Energy%20Consultation%20responses/Zero%20sum%20(2).pdf

[3] http://corporate.easyjet.com/corporate-responsibility/environment/climate-change-carbon-emissions-and-carbon-offsetting

[4] https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3082469/shell-to-offer-drivers-carbon-offsets-at-no-extra-cost

[5] https://www.gucci.com/uk/en_gb/st/stories/gucci-equilibrium/article/carbon-neutral

EU Business News 2020 Irish Enterprise Awards Press Release

United Kingdom, 2020 – EU Business News Magazine have announced the winners of the 2020 Irish Enterprise Awards.

Following on from the success of last year’s programme, the 2020 Irish Enterprise Awards have sought out and recognised the leaders, disruptors and promising start ups across an ever talented and vibrant business community. A plethora of industries have blossomed and thrived on Ireland’s shores, and we want to spotlight the achievements of those driving these sectors forward every day.

Speaking on the awards, Awards Coordinator Chloe Smart commented: “A heartfelt congratulations to all of the winners in this year’s programme. It was a pleasure and a delight to talk to you all and I hope you have a wonderful future ahead of you. Ireland continues to be a bastion of best business practices and innovation, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the coming year.”

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the EU Business News website (http://business-news.eu) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About EU Business News

The EU is a vital and exciting region filled with businesses and individuals creating unique innovations, supporting their customers around the world and, ultimately, driving change. As such, EU Business News aims to provide an absorbing overview of this exciting region and the businesses and individuals operating within it.

Much more than just a magazine, alongside our online publication EU Business News also boasts an informative newsletter, a regularly updated website and a series of awards programmes showcasing the excellence of businesses and the individuals behind them from across this vibrant region.

As subscription to EU Business News is free there is absolutely no reason not to sign up to receive this informative resource into the European business landscape.

A Cold (Heating) War?

Daniel Connell Ph.D., Energy Markets Analyst, ZTP

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The key balance within the risk-reward spectrum, as posited
by Tzu 2,500 years ago, has been a constant component of geopolitical wrangling
ever since. Wars have lasted decades and days; maps and territories drawn,
lost, and re-plotted. Global conflict – the spectre of a potential “war to end
all wars” – hung over the first half of the twentieth century, only to be
superseded by the Cold War: an intense decades-long dance of brinkmanship and
détente that brought us to the brink at the Bay of Pigs, but also in effect
took us to the moon.

Conflict, chaos and innovation go hand in hand so smoothly
not only because the latter two are almost always a consequence of the first;
it is also the case that conflict can be caused by innovation. And in
our post-Cold War, post-Soviet Union world, where China has risen to the rank
of global superpower, the lines have never been so blurred.

One key area of intrigue is liquefied natural gas (LNG).[1]
Here, a long history is only recently starting to cause a significant impact. Innovation
came long before conflict.

Tzu also said that the pinnacle is to break an enemy’s will
without needing to fight them; on the geopolitical stage this is done in several
ways: resource allocation; economic prosperity and security; and finally, global
influence. Years of globalisation and multi-national conglomerates tethered by
visible and invisible strings to national interests have shaped new
quasi-battlegrounds. Namely, in energy.

Global LNG exports increased 60% in the last decade. Russia and Australia multiplied their 2010 output, whilst the US went from bit-part to considerable player over the decade. A minority route to energy became very crowded in a short space of time, as tankers got bigger and new LNG plants opened across the world.

LNG Exports
Billion
Cubic Metres
2010 2019 Change:
Global 302.39 483.33 60%
Australia 25.84 104.47 304%
Qatar 77.83 105.56 36%
Russia 13.48 38.70 187%
US 1.45 49.60 3,321%

Table 1:
 LNG Exports. Sources: BP Statistical
Review 2019, Reuters
The scale has become such that LNG now rivals
imports and domestic production in the UK; a European record 698GWh was sent
out from Isle of Grain terminal on 14 November 2019, showing

the ability of that route to challenge traditional fields
and pipelines. It even constitutes a viable source of supply balance to
challenge Mid-Range Storage (MRS), which has been noticeably full in the UK and
Europe as the LNG continues to flow.

So, where is the conflict?

Enter Russia – via Nord Stream, Ukrainian pipelines, and the soon-to-go live Nord Stream [2]. To get a sense of how each part is connected, we must go back to 2009, when a dispute between Russian company Gazprom and Ukrainian company Naftogaz over debt saw gas supplies to Europe cut. Whilst many countries were prepared for such an occurrence, after a similar incident in 2006, the effect was still profound. Europe’s reliance on Russian gas required a level of trust in supply that was severely eroded by these arguments; hence the first pipe of Nord Stream was laid in 2010. [1]  Supplying gas from Russia to Europe via a sub-sea pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream surpassed Norway’s Langeled pipeline as the longest in the world. With a total annual capacity of 55 billion m3, it combined with a newly minted Russia-Ukraine natural gas agreement as part of the April 2010 Kharkiv Pact to solidify Russia’s position as the key supplier of gas to Europe.

The annexation of Crimea in 2014 saw the pact dismantled, though the 10-year agreement on gas supply remained intact; one curiosity was Ukraine’s refusal to purchase gas directly from Gazprom, instead transiting it to Europe and then purchasing it from European sources via reverse flows. With concerns about the viability of sustained Ukrainian transit persisting, a project titled Nord Stream 2 – two additional lines that would double the flow capacity of the original Nord Stream – went ahead. Political controversy ensued – particularly from the US, who placed sanctions on companies directly involved in the project’s implementation. The inclusion of these punitive measures within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, released 20 December 2019, raised eyebrows in Germany, with German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz calling them “…a severe intervention in German and European internal affairs.”[3

] Why would the US take such action, given Russia’s stranglehold on European supply?

In short, shale gas production.

Chart 1: U.S. Natural Gas Production. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release

A relative boom in the US, back to 2000 but really picking up pace by 2007, has had a transformative effect on the energy landscape in America. LNG import terminals – such as Freeport, in Texas – started to look outward rather than in, transforming to an export facility. With the expansion of proved reserves giving the US product with largely untapped availability, there was only one likely route of expansion for delivery of this: via LNG.

Chart 2: US Natural Gas Trade. EIA AEO2019 Press Release, Dr. Linda Capuano, 2019

With the US Energy Information Administration  (EIA) estimating US net natural gas exports to
nearly double by 2021, mostly through increase in LNG, the first piece of the
jigsaw shaping why the US would oppose a strengthening Russian grip on Europe
becomes clear: they have product to shift. However, with their targeted markets
clearly Asia and parts of the Americas – and demand growth forecast to escalate
in non-OECD countries – why would a virtually already-claimed Europe be so
important to the US?

To get our answer, we look to the Pacific. More
specifically, to the Japan Korea Marker (JKM for short). This refers to the
spot market value of cargoes delivered ex-ship into Japan, South Korea, China,
and Taiwan. It reflects the majority of global LNG demand, its trade liquidity
growing dramatically since its inception in 2009. This means that it is often
used as the basis for trades around the world. Set up originally on mostly
long-term contracts – generally indexed to Brent oil prices to provide
stability – recent years have seen a shift to shorter terms and spot markets
since the original contracts ceded. This meant that as the market developed
past five years from foundation, price action saw more fluctuation and,
vitally, huge reductions as supply became more competitive.

This battle saw many companies reduce their dependency/usage
via the stable but high-priced oil-indexed contracts, attracted to the savings
the spot market offered. This saw imports grow considerably, from approximately
250bcm in 2009 to over 400bcm in 2018. The demand naturally brought innovation
and development forward, with major players like Australia, Malaysia and the US
all developing facilities primed for LNG exports.

Prices plummeted as the tether to oil loosened. Whilst this increased interest from parties stuck in indexed contracts, it had another effect: the LNG tankers looked to other markets. A complex gas storage dynamic developed in the UK and Europe as the traditional winter-summer price spread narrowed, disincentivising stock replenishment in summer which in turn created more volatility risk during cold snaps.[4] With storage stuck in the cyclical pricing issue, Norwegian export levels matured, and Nord Stream flows constrained by capacity, opportunity grew to provide further balance to the UK and European markets.

LNG developed another trading avenue.

Whilst this historically came from Qatar, the constant
chipping of Asian spot prices saw a new pattern; tankers as floating storage,
sitting almost between regions waiting for a signal to unload cargoes in the
most profitable market. The Arab Spring between 2010-12 offered opportunities
to broader LNG development outside the Middle East, and the Fukushima tsunami
of 2011 created a spike in demand as nuclear fell out of favour.

The chaos of seemingly multitudinous factors, as the market
globalised and supply sources multiplied, supplied considerable opportunities;
opportunities that can always, under the right conditions, pose serious risks.
With the US investing heavily in LNG export facilities, the spectre of Russia
closing off the European gas markets and a limited JKM market with poor returns
(and heavier transport spend than competitors such as Australia and Malaysia)
became tangible. Simply put, the US needed potential capacity across the entire
globe in order to maximise opportunity and hedge risk. The cost of pressing
prices down in the short term outweighed the costs of letting a status quo
settle.

Naturally, whilst the US has had an astonishing increase in
output, the other major players have also stepped up, exacerbating the LNG
supply glut. This forms the pattern of 2019 and early 2020, strengthened by
mild weather seen in both Asia and Europe; conditions which have meant
volatility has been largely driven by geopolitical events. It provides an
antonymic response to 2018, when the polar vortex known as “Beast from the
East” stung the UK and Europe, and record EUA prices saw the entire energy
complex keep rising month on month. Yet whilst it seems to be a market reaction
to 2018, it is clear that external forces play a far larger part in gas
security now.

Where once knowledge of the level of Rough storage could give
you an indication for gas prices, now one needs to look to trilateral talks
between the EU, Russia, and Ukraine; one needs to look to both the spread and
churn across TTF, JKM, Henry Hub and NBP; one needs to look at global-level
events like the COVID-19 pandemic; one needs to look for potential disruptors,
like November’s US presidential election.

We are now firmly in a period of seeming chaos, where the
sources of our energy supply are not as black and white as they once were.
Conditions are less clear – we now see bearishness on under-supplied days, and
the opposite when there is a glut. The conditions of depreciated pricing are
unlikely to last; there are now more invested parties than ever. How they
react, how competitors such as Russia and the US position themselves, will play
a key part in gas pricing over the next five years.

In these conditions, it becomes imperative to have as much
knowledge as possible of the shifting merit order of what drives prices, and to
identify when these patterns change. Chaos without the right tools becomes a
risk; if empowered, one can seize the opportunities such incredible complexity
presents.

ZTP (www.ztpuk.com), the energy management and software
specialist


[1] In 1886 Karol Olszewski liquefied methane, the primary constituent of natural gas. However, it was not until 1940 that a full-scale LNG plant opened, in Cleveland, Ohio. A fire in 1944 saw 130 fatalities, and subsequently a considerable slowdown of development occurred. However, in 1959 a ship called Methane Pioneer made a delivery of LNG from the US to the UK. In 1964, the world’s first custom-made LNG carrier the Methane Princess made its first voyage

[2] The Nord Stream project was first mooted in 1997

[3] https://www.dw.com/en/germany-eu-decry-us-nord-stream-sanctions/a-51759319

[4] Frédéric Simon of Euractiv provides a more in-depth insight into this development here: https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/the-evolving-role-of-gas-storage-in-europe/

Britain’s Supermarkets Are No Longer Competing – They Are Working Together To Survive

Britain’s supermarkets are no longer in a state of competition, but one of co-operation. The government has announced a relaxation of trading laws and competition regulations, in an attempt to allow supermarkets to collaborate and share resources to ensure that the public has access to essential food and goods amidst the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

Since Friday, supermarkets have been allowed to share distribution depots, delivery transportation, retail workers, and even data access, to give Britain’s grocers the most ammunition possible to combat shortages during a time of wildly unpredictable consumer demand.  The government is also temporarily lifting the plastic bag tax for online deliveries, in an effort to prevent cross-contamination from delivery crates. 

This unprecedented move, which sees typically competitive and battling retailers share access to data and resources, represents the value that technology and data holds in today’s retail landscape. A recent study by retail tech company Ubamarket showed that over half (52%) of UK shoppers are happy to offer their data to retailers provided they can save money – this suggests that if supermarkets are able to use tech solutions to connect with customers, for example through mobile apps, it will provide them with unparalleled access to data on consumer behaviour. This in turn will ultimately allow tech-equipped supermarkets to run their stores more efficiently and better negotiate unpredictable periods such as the one currently faced. 

Will Broome, Founder and CEO of Ubamarket, comments on the relaxation of regulation between supermarkets and offers insight into how retail tech can help retailers to effectively negotiate future crises:

“The competition regulations in place in our retail landscape are vital, as they push companies to innovate and offer the very best service to customers. However, despite the havoc that is being caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, I for one am very interested to see how supermarkets and grocers across the country will be able to come together, collaborate and share their market insights and resources for the greater good, now that these regulations have been relaxed.

One of the key challenges facing retailers at this moment in time is to mitigate the drastic increase in consumer demand for certain goods and contend with disruption in their supply chains, and it is clear that many supermarkets are struggling to distribute essential goods whilst ensuring that their remaining stock is not unnecessarily depleted.

The implementation of retail technology is one way that Britain’s retailers could safeguard themselves against future cases of fluctuating demand and irregular consumer behaviour. With the help of retail-tech, supermarkets and stores can access far more in-depth and accurate consumer data, helping them to assess their behaviour, manage stock more efficiently and effectively, whilst being able to effectively communicate directly to the consumer base. By effectively using retail technology, retailers will be able to better prepare and deal with unpredictable consumer behaviour and spikes in demand, preventing such a drastic loss of stock which we see today.”

COVID-19 Will Cause A Global Recession

Severe economic problems across Europe as a result of the Corona Virus are now unavoidable – states economics expert Gabriel A. Giménez Roche from NEOMA Business School – and will plunge us into a recession.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an extreme halt in productive activity within the operations of companies, already leading to real economic consequences such as tumbling markets, rising unemployment, and lower consumption across the globe.

“Our worst fears are becoming a reality as we now realise that a recession is looming. Even if activity resumes after the end of the coronavirus crisis, the prolonged lack of activity will cause a significant cut in the generation and circulation of cash flows that will not be remedied just by a resumption of operations.

“No matter what measures are taken at the dawn of the coming recession, there will be long months of economic turmoil. Nevertheless, it is obvious that exceptional measures, never seen since the 19th century, are to be expected,” says Professor Giménez Roche.

To relieve this impending situation, central banks around the world have already announced their commitment to injecting money into the markets, but this injection is blind at the moment, since it remains to be determined which sectors will need it most when the time comes.

Professor Giménez Roche says,
“The announced injections from banks may prove to be insufficient, as the magnitude of the coming economic recession will largely depend on the duration and reach of the current health crisis – we are all in unknown territory right now.”

Governments across Europe must take advantage of the support from central banks to rebalance budgets, streamline taxation and regulations, and adopt strict rules of budget responsibility, Professor Giménez Roche states. This solution requires a significant level of international concertation and, as this unprecedented situation unfolds, it must be continuously monitored.

Un-Luck Of The Irish: The Cities Paying 65% More For A Pint Of Guinness

Pub-goers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (17th March) are at risk of paying 65% more for a pint of Guinness depending on where they socialise, according to new research.  

The study from leading savings site, VoucherCodes.co.uk looked at the cost of a pint of Guinness within major chains (J D Wetherspoon’s and Greene King, which owns Hungry Horse, Belhaven and Flaming Grill) and across independent Irish pubs in major UK and European cities. Analysing a number of venues across the UK, the findings show a steep 65% price difference between the London average (£5.02) – unsurprisingly the highest in the country – and the cheapest average pint found in Dundee (£3.05).  

JD Wetherspoon has an 87% price difference across venues analysed, when comparing the cheapest and most expensive pint. Drinkers looking for a cheap Guinness at a ‘Spoons should head to The Wheatsheaf in Stoke, where a pint costs just £2.49 –  almost half the price of the same pint found in The Lord Moon of the Mall (£4.65) situated in London’s West End – the most expensive venue of those in the study. 

Those looking to celebrate in a traditional Irish bar this Tuesday could be paying up to 10% more for their pint of Guinness, against the UK average. The cheapest drink of those analysed can be found at Kelly’s Bar in Dundee at £3.10, unfortunately those in London will be paying 68% more in The Tipperary (£5.10).  

When looking at the average cost across each UK city, Dundee (£3.05) comes out as the cheapest city to celebrate, followed closely by Coventry (£3.18) and Glasgow (£3.26). While London is predictably the most expensive city on average (£5.02), the research reveals the other cities also charging a premium this St Patrick’s Day are Edinburgh (£4.25) and Norwich (£4.10). The UK average price is £3.79. 

Upgrading Your Business In 2020: Tips and Tricks

Entering a new decade is an exciting time for everyone, particularly driven business owners who are keen to enhance their organisation and take it to the next level.

Upgrading a business means different things to different business owners: it might mean moving into a new market or expanding to new locations. Whatever you want to achieve, here are some of our top tips and tricks to help ensure that you accomplish your business goals in 2020.

Plan For Your Future

When you decide to upgrade your business, it’s easy to get carried away, but you also need to make sure that you do everything right. As such, it’s important that you have a business plan that includes your plans for the future, so that you and your senior team can prepare and have achievable short and long-term targets. Create a comprehensive overview of the changes you want your organisation to undergo and how you’re going to achieve them.

Be Ambitious

Doubt can be your worst enemy in business. You might not think that a goal is feasible, but you’ll never know unless you try. Don’t be afraid to set tough targets and work hard to achieve them: the results will be worth the effort, even if you don’t get as far as you’d previously hoped.

Never Feel Limited By A Lack Of Space

Operating from a small property can make it seem challenging to expand and grow your business, but with a little ingenuity you can create the company you’ve always dreamed of. If you don’t want to move your base but need some space to store your wares and equipment, consider exploring the business storage options from Safestore. They’ll be able to guide you in finding the solution that suits your organisation and helps you to achieve your dreams.

Embrace Technology

Digitalisation is sweeping across the global corporate landscape, and whilst it remains important that you continue to focus on providing clients with the personal touch, you also need to embrace technology. When properly used, technology and digital solutions can improve the efficiency of your business and make it easier for you to give your clients the support and service they want.

Find Creative Ways To Fund Your Business Growth

Upgrading your business can be an expensive endeavour, but the investment will be worth it in the end. If your company doesn’t have the operating profit to finance your plans and you’re unwilling to be tied to a traditional loan, then consider finding an alternative source of funding. From crowdfunding to peer-to-peer lending platforms, there’s something out there for every business, meaning that you can easily find a solution that will propel your business to the success you’re aiming for.

Support Your Staff Through The Changes

No matter what your business goals are in 2020, you need to make sure that you remember to support your staff, so that they, in turn, are able to help your customers to adjust. Make sure that you communicate with your team and provide them with the assistance they need to completely understand and implement the changes that are occurring in your organisation. By being supportive, you’ll ensure that staff don’t feel left behind by the changes and are able to continue to do their jobs effectively.

Keep Evolving

Once you’ve achieved your initial goals, you need to make sure that you and your organisation keep growing and adapting to the latest developments in the business market. This will ensure that you don’t rest on your laurels or become out of step with what your customers really want from your organisation in the future.

Why Do Business Owners Need To Reassess Their Benefits?

Many business owners around the world like to show that they care about their employees. This can be done in a number of ways including hosting team days, increasing salaries on a yearly basis and more. Of course, one of the things that often gets neglected is the employee benefits scheme which they have in place. It can be easy to think that one size fits all here but this is not the case at all.

In this article, we are going to look at why business owners need to reassess their benefits in 2020. Keep reading to find out more.

It Helps To Be Adaptable

One of the things that many employees are looking for from their employers in 2020 is adaptability and flexibility. If you have not already heard then you should know that flexible working is becoming much more common as employers recognise how desirable this can be. With an adaptable employee benefits scheme, employers can show that they care and tailor benefits to their employees. Zest Benefits offers a platform that can help with this so it is something to consider.

Retaining Staff

Another reason why business owners need to reassess their benefits schemes is that they could be losing out on staff members that are valuable to the team. Many people report that they find a new job because of a lack of benefits that suit them. This can cause issues with the flow of your business and can reduce your staff retention rates. If you want to retain staff, it is important that their needs are considered when it comes to employee benefits.

They Can Be Outdated

Many of the employee benefits schemes already in place across the EU are now outdated. It can be easy for business owners to leave these in place for many years without considering that needs change and they can become outdated. This can include everything from certain rights that employees have now that they didn’t before and law changes. It is important that the HR team know what needs to be updated in order to keep this in line with laws.

Beating Competitors

When it comes to striking out your competition, it isn’t just about getting more customers than them. You also need to be thinking about how you can stop your competitors from stealing your top staff members and often the best way to do this is to offer a better benefits scheme. It might be useful to spend some time researching what your competitors are offering or what your employees want the most. Then, you can make some changes to your current package and ensure that you don’t fall behind your competitors in this area.

Showing Appreciation

Finally, business owners should consider reassessing their employee benefits schemes in 2020 because it can be a good way of showing appreciation to your team. If you are able to offer a few more days of paid holidays or some kind of employee shares scheme, you can really make a difference to their overall attitude. It can be nice to show appreciation and your employees will also appreciate this in the long run.

Conclusion

Business owners across the world are making dramatic changes to their schemes in order to impress their employees and beat the competition. If you haven’t updated your benefits scheme in many years, it might be time to look at this in more detail. Spend some time figuring out what your employees need and use this information wisely to make some changes.

Budget 2020: Fiscal Incentives Must Go Ahead Now

Fiscal incentives to support innovative businesses and promote investment are vital as the UK navigates the uncertain Brexit transition period, according to tax specialists at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP. 

Despite the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) announcing a “welcome lift in business confidence” at the start of 2020, the Government can’t afford to neglect the needs of SME businesses, the backbone of the UK economy.  

Richard Godmon, tax partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said:  

“With many UK businesses trading internationally, certainty surrounding future trading arrangements with the EU and the rest of the world is urgently required. However, if this can’t be delivered in the short-term, then the Chancellor must step up to the plate and provide support in the form of clear fiscal incentives and allowances, to help businesses to improve their cash position and facilitate investment.”  

R&D relief 

Among the Budget announcements, tax specialists at the firm are urging the Chancellor to confirm that the rate of R&D relief that large companies can claim under the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme will be increased by one per cent (from 12 to 13 per cent). The Chancellor should also take the opportunity to extend the scope of the scheme to include costs for investment in cloud computing and big data analytics. 

Annual Investment Allowance 

Further certainty is needed surrounding the Annual Investment Allowance, which is currently set at £1 million but is expected to revert to £200,000 from 1 January 2021.   

Richard Godmon said:  

“Investment requires confidence, and this can’t happen in a climate of uncertainty. Businesses need to know what is happening to the AIA so they can understand the cost of new plant and machinery and invest in their growth plans. The Chancellor could address this by either increasing the allowance or extending the current limit until at least the end of 2022.  

“Alternatively, if a blanket increase in the AIA limit is considered too costly, the Chancellor could select specific areas of capital expenditure, which might qualify for enhanced tax relief (say, of up to 110 per cent of cost) – for example, investments in robotics, AI systems, data integration, 3D printers and other value-driving tech.”  

Entrepreneurs’ Relief 

This Budget may see the end of Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER), which is intended to encourage business investment by providing a favourable rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) to business owners on the disposal of all or part of their business. The relief, which saves business owners an estimated £2.2bn per year, may be under threat following publication of a report suggesting that it may not be boosting entrepreneurialism as intended.  

Richard Godmon said: 

“While it would be a big step for the Government to completely remove the idea of rewarding owners and investors for risking their capital, we may see reform of the relief, designed to reduce the tax cost. This might involve reducing the £10m lifetime allowance, or limiting access to new businesses, or those who reinvest their sale proceeds within a limited window. 

“We hope that any restrictions to ER will be offset by measures to enhance incentives for start-ups and growth businesses. This would continue to communicate the message that Britain is open for business, helping organisations to plan their long-term investment strategy.”  

Digital Services Tax 

The Government is also expected to deliver a final decision regarding the controversial UK Digital Services Tax, and there is still time to soften its impact or even defer it altogether. If it goes ahead, the tax could impact UK competitiveness significantly.  

Richard Godmon said:

“It’s important to bear in mind that the Digital Services Tax would operate solely within the UK, rather than being EU-wide. As such, the UK could find itself isolated and at odds with trading partners should other countries choose not to introduce a similar tax. This could leave the UK at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to attracting international orders and so could have a negative ripple effect on UK-based SMEs. Hopefully we will see this tax deferred for a year pending the outcome of the OECD work on taxation of the digital economy, which it is hoped will reach an agreement by the end of 2020.” 

Housing and Property 

Finally, with Brexit uncertainty still negatively impacting property sales, the Government could do more to get the housing market, traditionally a key driver of economic growth, moving and improve housing supply. 

“After seven years of punitive tax changes, buy-to-let property investors are hoping for a period of relative stability and maybe even a fiscal ‘escape hatch’ too.  

“A temporary reduction in the rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) payable on gains from the sale of B2L properties, made unprofitable by recent tax changes, could help to release stock onto the market. The new 30-day payment rules for CGT also means the Treasury’s coffers would feel the financial benefit immediately,” concluded Richard Godmon. 

Further housing changes could see the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold raised to £500,000 for all buyers, the introduction of a 3 per cent SDLT surcharge for non-UK resident buyers of UK property, and the expected tightening of tax reliefs on the sale of individuals’ main residences.  

EU Business News Q1 2020

EU Business News Q1 2020 - Cover

Welcome to the Q1 edition of EU Business News. As always, we are a quarterly publication designed to showcase the latest updates and insights from across the European Union. I hope you’ve had a wonderful start to the new year.

Despite significant upheaval over the last few months – and with all signs pointing to it continuing on for the foreseeable future – European business continues on. Continues to innovate and break boundaries. Continues to move forward. Companies all over the union are striving to be better, to grow and expand, and help keep everything else ticking along. After all, it is often in the most challenging of situations that true brilliance emerges and shines bright.

We’ve spotlighted a few companies that have tackled every challenge as if they were an opportunity to learn and thrive. That quality differentiates companies and seeks to mark business managers as leaders. Here are just a few of those leaders.

Meanwhile, the team here at EU Business sincerely hope that you enjoy reading this insightful issue. Finally, please do get in touch if you have any thoughts. It is always a delight and an honour to hear from our readers.

Revealed: These Are The Top 10 Foreign Languages Spoken In London Boroughs

Bengali has been officially named as the second most-spoken language in London, followed by Polish and Turkish – with around 165,311 London residents speaking one of the three as their first language.

Yet less than one in 10 Brits (8%) can fluently speak a second language, which means they’re potentially missing out on friendships, relationships and even partnerships with the many speakers of foreign languages across the capital – especially as 311,210 London residents speak a foreign language as their main language at home.

In order to highlight and celebrate London’s cultural diversity, as well as encourage residents to connect with each other, particularly in the current political climate, adult learning charity, City Lit, conducted research to find out the most common foreign languages spoken in boroughs of the capital.

The research identified the main languages that London residents speak in their homes aside from English, allowing City Lit to reveal the foreign languages spoken most within every London borough.

Bengali is officially the second language of London, with around 71,609 London residents speaking it as their main language. It’s the most common main language people speak, second only to English, across three different boroughs – 3% of Camden residents say Bengali is their main language at home, as do 7% of Newham residents and 18% of those living in Tower Hamlets.

Despite this being the main language of such a large number of Londoners, only a mere 3% of Brits can speak fluent Bengali – meaning 97% of the nation is potentially unable to have an effective, in-depth conversation with people who speak it as their main language

Polish is the second most common foreign language spoken by Londoners, with seven boroughs stating this is the second most spoken main language after English. Again, only 3% of Brits can speak fluent Polish – meaning 97% of people in the UK could be missing out on connecting with 48,585 London residents.

Approximately 6% of Ealing residents say the main language they speak at home is Polish, as do 2% of people in Barnet, 1% of Bromley residents, 2% of those living in Lewisham, 4% of Merton-ers, and 1% living in Richmond upon Thames.

Turkish came in third, with four boroughs revealing this to be the second most spoken main language after English – yet a shocking 99% of the UK can’t speak or understand it competently.

Approximately 45,117 London residents speak Turkish at home – it would be a fantastic language to learn if you reside in Enfield, where 6% of residents speak it as their main language, along with Hackney (5%), Haringey (5%), and Islington (2%).

London’s top 10 most spoken foreign languages

  1. Bengali – 71,609 speakers
  2. Polish – 48,585 speakers
  3. Turkish – 45,117 speakers
  4. Gujarati – 43,868 speakers
  5. Panjabi – 22,108 speakers
  6. Urdu – 18,127 speakers
  7. French – 13,013 speakers
  8. Arabic – 11,971 speakers
  9. Tamil – 10,513 speakers
  10. Portuguese – 9,897 speakers

Chris Jones Director of Sales and Marketing said, City Lit, said: “Here at City Lit, we love to celebrate the cultural diversity we are so privileged to have here in the capital of England. It’s so interesting to see the range of languages spoken at home by people living just next door to us, but in some cases we might not be able to connect with them on a deeper level due to the potential language barrier.

“People who are unable to speak English might feel somewhat isolated in our country, and in these uncertain political times we urge London residents to reach out to their neighbours – no matter what language they speak – and celebrate each other’s differences and similarities.

“Diversity and inclusivity is something that makes London such a fantastic and special place to live – and learning a new language – especially one that’s commonly spoken in your area – is a great way to connect with those around you and broaden your experiences.”

City Lit teach over 27 different languages at various levels including French, German, Italian, Arabic and Korean, To learn more about City Lit language courses, visit https://www.citylit.ac.uk/catalog/category/view/id/1280.

To take part in City Lit’s language quiz, visit: https://www.citylit.ac.uk/blog/quiz-how-many-these-languages-do-you-know

Revealed: The Most Successful Cities In The UK For Tradespeople

Investigation reveals Leicester, Bristol and Sheffield top the charts as most successful cities for tradespeople.

Starting a new trade business is an ambitious endeavour. And with the pressure to survive, tradespeople are looking for the best opportunity for their business to thrive.

According to new data, three in four (77%) trades businesses across the UK survive beyond two years, on average. But a new investigation by Confused.com reveals that some cities in the UK have a better chance of thriving. And this could help tradespeople overcome the confusion and overwhelming decisions they must consider when starting up a new business.

To help ambitious tradespeople make a clear decision, Confused.com has analysed data on the trade industry using expert sites, such as Thomson Local and Company Check to unveil the UK’s best and worst cities in the UK for trade start-ups.

 

Best locations for success

For anyone looking to start a trade business, the Midlands is a promising option. Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham are all within the top six areas based on business success rate.

In particular, Leicester is revealed as the city with the highest rate of success with carpenters, gardeners and painter and decorators all particularly successful here. According to the data, less than 10% of all trades based in the city fail, on average.

The UK’s capital emerges as the trade start-up hub and most competitive region. There are 7,649 trade businesses in London, 141% higher than the average UK city, with an average survival rate of 84.1%.

Meanwhile, Cardiff has the fewest number of competing trade businesses in the UK (1,457), suggesting it could be one of the best cities for a start-up. In particular, roofing and double glazing installation business are thriving, with a 100% two-year survival rate in the Welsh capital.

      

Location

Average Trade Survival Rate

Number of Competing Businesses

Most Successful Trades
(100% rate of success)

Leicester

90.40%

1657

Carpenter, Landscape Gardener, General gardener, Painter and decorator

Bristol

89.90%

2212

Double glazing installer, Carpenter, Landscape gardener, General gardener

Sheffield

88.20%

2947

Roofer, Landscape gardener, Gardener, Painter and decorator

 

Most successful trades

The study reveals that the most secure trade professions are electricians and double-glazing installation businesses – both of which have an average survival rate of 89% after two years.

Electricians also receive the highest day rate of £215. While electricians require a relatively steep van insurance policy of £1,183, the high rates mean they also have the largest profit margins – approximately £181 a day.

Double-glazing installers, meanwhile, might share the same survival rate as electricians, but a £150 day rate means their margins are much lower at only £119 a day.

Meanwhile, starting a roofing business could be a risk, as the trade has the lowest survival rate (78%). However, more than three in four businesses make it past the two-year mark. Roofing businesses in Sheffield, Nottingham and Cardiff all have the best chance of thriving, with a 100% survival rate.

 

Financial considerations for traders

When making a plan for a new trade business, financial considerations including income rates, van insurance and running costs should be factored in. The research shows that electricians charge the highest daily rate at £215 on average, followed closely by plumbers at £210. Gardeners have the lowest running costs of all trades at just £56.15- that’s more than 2.6 times less than electricians at £184.24.

Van insurance varies by trade, even between similar work – landscape gardeners pay £1,424 a year on average (the highest insurance cost), while other gardeners pay only £1,392. Trades with the cheapest van insurance include painter and decorators (£870) and double-glazing installers (£889), while contractors sit just under the median cost, paying £1,064 a year.

Builders have the highest public liability insurance at £278 a year, higher than plumbers (£217) and carpenters (£126). Electricians pay the least at only £81, contributing to their high profit margins.

Across all trades, the average cost of marketing, which includes running a two-week bus stop advert, a one-off local newspaper advert and a radio advert over one to two months, would be £26.71 each day on top of running costs.

 

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com comments: “Starting a business comes with a lot of risk and pressure. And our investigation shows that the success of a business could come down to the location.

“But where is best? To clear this confusion we’ve highlighted the cities in the UK with the best rate of success for different trades, and perhaps where to avoid.

“If you’re starting from scratch, the location is key, but there’s also a lot to consider when joining a trade. Our guide to becoming a tradesperson outlines everything you need to know when looking to start a career in the trade industry.”

 

You can find the full list of trade start-ups and regions here.

UK Telecoms Industry Earnings On EU Investments Up 40% Since Referendum

The UK telecoms industry has seen earnings on its investments in the EU grow 40% since the referendum despite the Brexit debacle, analysis of the latest ONS data has revealed.

In the aftermath of the vote, companies’ earnings from investments in the EU even DOUBLED briefly from £1.8billion in 2015 (the year before the referendum) to £3.5billion in 2017.

Earnings then fell back in 2018 to £2.5billion – still up 40% on pre-referendum levels – but investment positions have only had to rise a fraction of that over the same period.

In 2015, information and communication firms had £74.7billion invested in the EU in 2015 but this only rose 18.7% to £88.7billion by 2018, according to analysis of the latest statistics1 by R&D tax relief specialist Catax.

Over the same period, EU inward investment positions for telecoms fell by a third, going from £45.8billion in 2015, to £32.7billion in 2018.

This compares favourably with sectors such as UK utilities, which has quadrupled its investment position in the EU but seen earnings increase only a quarter (23%).

Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said:

“For the past few years we’ve heard horror stories about what would happen to the UK following the vote to leave the EU.

“Against many people’s expectations, the telecoms industry has taken the opportunity to actually grow its investment positions on the continent.

“These sensible investment decisions have clearly paid off, with information and communication firms seeing earnings double in the period after the Brexit vote.

“This is more good news for British industry as the country starts to set its own course on the journey to become a new outward-looking nation outside the EU.”