Thoughts on 2021 so far…

We are now almost 3 weeks into 2021, a year that promises a great deal in terms of recovery (both social and economic) in the guise of vaccines, gradual lifting of restrictions and a much longed for return toward normality.

As the race to recovery plays out before us, it’s interesting to take stock of where things stand from a business perspective and where things appear to be headed.

For those of us who work in the high tech industry – or at least in roles that permit us to work from home without any major impact other than on social interaction – we are entitled to feel somewhat fortunate when comparing our employment prospects against those in industries which have been heavily affected, such as events management, travel and hospitality to name a few.

Equally, we can also point to employees who, whilst being fortunate to have maintained their employment, nonetheless are still required to be present in factories, hospitals and on the roads. Perhaps some of us just have it easier than others?

There is almost certainly some truth in that. From where I am sitting, speaking of recruiting for the technology industry in particular, the dreaded hiring freeze and cessation of all efforts in that direction did indeed have a heavy impact and took a significant toll on our industry in 2020, but nowhere near as devastatingly as one might have expected.

Jurupa as a business noted a significant downturn from the point of lockdown here in the UK (late March 2020) which persisted for many months. Signs of respite appeared in August when customers started to talk once again of grand plans to resume their expansion quests although the brakes weren’t to be released with any real meaning for a few months yet. Ultimately, as a business we have been fortunate to have maintained strong relationships with a select number of clients who conduct their operations in extremely robust and in some cases buoyant markets, such as eCommerce, FinTech and Logistics.

Our view is that once it became clear to everyone that the pandemic wasn’t merely a temporary inconvenience to impatient merchants, businesses collectively realised that they had to adapt and simply “keep calm and carry on.” Let’s face it – the technology is already firmly in place and well proven to enable our typical client base to continue running their operations as before albeit without the ability to physically bring people together in person.

So, where does that leave us all? Well, the vaccines that are currently being rolled out will play a decisive role in how and when governments around the world can and will alter the current restrictions in place. What does it mean for commercial landlords who face the serious dilemma of possessing office space which they cannot fill? What about the owners of cafes, restaurants and delis in city centres up and down the country who have no passing trade anymore?

There seems to be a clear appetite from significant numbers of both bosses and employees to retain at least a proportion of the new working from home status quo. The benefits are clear: less crowded trains, buses, tubes, even aeroplanes. Less reliance on expensive season tickets, parking charges and stressful twice daily commutes. I personally don’t believe that office environments are a thing of the past – far from it. However, I do think that the pandemic has revealed one key truth to us. It was stated recently by Sir David Attenborough in an interview with the Daily Telegraph:- “It (the virus) has drawn attention to the fact we aren’t as omnipotent and all-controlling as we think we are.”

Wise words indeed.

Therefore, in my view, we must remain adaptable and open-minded as to creating workable solutions in the future.

Stay safe and good luck, everyone.

Aaron Davies