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Welcome news for NHS suppliers….. by Emma Wade

The government has announced that ventilators, coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing arriving from outside the EU are no longer subject to Customs Duty or Import VAT.  This has a number of benefits, it will speed things up, reducing red tape to get vital equipment through to the front line.  It also removes barriers for companies wanting to donate supplies to the NHS.  The import price of these items is also reduced.

This new approach will be in force until 31st July 2020 and new guidance about the import relief is on GOV.UK

Great to see tariffs and barriers removed to keep trade flowing and ensuring the supply of essential goods and services.

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Job Crafting – Could it benefit you? by Catriona Cookson

Have you heard of Job Crafting? – no me neither, not until I read this recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Jennifer Moss  the award award-winning author of “Unlocking Happiness at Work”

So, what exactly is Job Crafting? – It’s a strategy that gives employees the chance to design their roles for a more meaningful experience of work. Given that everyone is adapting to a different way of working currently, and everything is open to change, now could be the time to consider Job Crafting. Many businesses will be taking a look at how and why they do things and asking, “Do we really need to be doing this in this way or at all?”

Dr Richard Thackray from the Washington D.C office of Aviation Medicine has worked with pilots to understand how automation and boredom affects them. He’s found that a group of tasks that feel monotonous and lack meaning combined with deadline-driven roles and fast-paced work environments is a recipe for burnout. On the other hand, where there is some sense of autonomy and freedom to make decisions and also the “novelty “ factor of new challenges, then motivation and performance increases.

Perhaps none of this is particularly new but given our world (including our working world) has been turned upside down ……it gives the possibility that we might do things differently going forward. Everything is up for discussion, review and change and so now may be the time for you to look at your role, how you could do it differently to give greater satisfaction and most likely increase productivity at the same time.

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Marketing – what’s the “right” thing to do at this time? by Catriona Cookson

Marketing, it’s a tricky one at the moment. I know I’ve been irritated by some personal emails that just don’t strike the right tone , although I did chuckle at one from Uniqlo entitled “Upgrade your loungewear”…well, it’s better that than “Update your Spring wardrobe” as honestly where am I going that I might need a new wardrobe of pastel coloured trousers and sandals?! And it’s the same with business marketing, clients look to consultants to solve problems and there is still business out there to be won from existing and new clients. There are some good tips from Source Global Research on marketing at the moment in terms of style, tone and most importantly what’s appropriate, do take a look here.

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The importance of flexibility in a lockdown… by Davey Peyton

Flexibility is key to maintaining some semblance of normal life right now and what we might have considered flexible before has been thrown out of the window. As we all adjust to these weird new conditions one positive that’s coming up again and again is innovative solutions and most of it isn’t particularly ground-breaking it’s just different from the norm.

The most obvious change to affect millions of individuals has been working remotely, having video meetings and calls daily and using a variety of instant messaging apps to update each other on whatever new series you might be watching (if you haven’t seen Tiger King it’s an amazing distraction for a day or two!) and work when necessary. There’re also the personal aspects of video calling friends and family, just yesterday I celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday with 40 of his friends. As you can imagine this was a nightmare not least because half of the assorted participants couldn’t work Zoom but even so being willing to try it meant a huge amount.

Then there are businesses and business leaders innovating to help those they can and stories from schools/universities about their ideas to help children stay engaged and students attend graduation.

Finally, there are the smaller changes to help us not only carry on but keep enjoying ourselves. Whether it be online pub quizzes, parties, exercise classes, virtual tours or watching plays put on at The National, who have kindly made them free on Youtube, there are a huge number of regular activities still achievable with a bit of flexibility and a good internet connection. In some of the more innovative examples I’m booked in to do an escape room via video using the owners as avatars and my cousin spent his Saturday climbing the 3 peaks for charity using his stairs and at one point a fan/water bottle combination to simulate the awful weather.

I find seeing people and businesses carrying on gives a great deal of hope and security at a difficult time. With flexibility and innovation the world will always keep moving at a pace but it might just be a very different world at the end of the year. If you’re working or not or you’re just interested in what others are doing to keep going please get in touch via email or on LinkedIn. I’d be happy to discuss everything we are seeing in the market and hopefully make sure you’re in the best position possible to keep going.

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The Situation Seems Bleak – but Crisis Navigation is all Part of the Job…. by Tariq Siraj

No business or economic crisis is a neatly isolated and contained incident, and this COVID-19 situation is exceptional by any standards. It is wide in both scope and in the levels of uncertainty. The UN trade agency suggests a cost to the global economy approaching $1 trillion, the IMF and OECD have massively downgraded growth estimates and pretty much every country’s own policy makers are looking at what level of recession to tackle, not strategies to avoid one altogether.

All pretty bleak reading right? Well, perhaps reading between the lines gives us more hope. The consulting market – and the wider economy itself – has been bracing for a big impact for some time. In late 2019, before the first coronavirus cases had been reported, more than half of the CEOs surveyed in a PwC report believed the rate of global GDP growth would decline in 2020 and only 27 percent of felt “very confident” in their companies’ growth prospects – a low not seen since 2009.  Coronavirus has amplified the situation – no doubt – but it’s at least a little reassuring to know that plans were already in place for tackle a big ‘hit’.

It’s also worthwhile noting that no shockwave to the economic norm in modern history will have as much daily or hourly attention poured over it than this one. Whatever geography, industry or size, every entity has the same common goal; to reduce the impact.  It’s also worth remembering that crisis management is part of the job; 7 in 10 leaders have experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years.

It may seem slightly crude to suggest at the moment, but the management consulting market is also about as insulated as any market right now.  There are and will be tragic consequences for many of course – including the implementation and transformation service providers who rely so much on face-to-face, on-site client interaction, and we have already seen some mid to high level firms having to sadly make redundancies – but consulting by and large exists as a crisis navigation service.  It’s a ‘How To…?’ market; how to generate more growth, improve efficiency, cut costs, navigate new situations…it’s all part of the service, and it’s a service that should come to the fore at times like these.

- Tariq

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