A study reveals that only 26% of South West businesses have a plan in place for a localised lockdown, and 43% have plans in place to deal with the second wave. Larger firms are slightly better prepared for localised lockdowns (45%) and a second wave (39%) than SMEs, but the figures are still under half of businesses.
The report, entitled ‘Better Business Resilience’, was commissioned by Driving for Better Business (), the government-backed Highways England programme, surveying 150 SME business owners and over 150 decision-makers at board level in large enterprises.
The report shows a snapshot of the attitudes and behaviours of SMEs and large enterprises towards business resilience across the UK. The report demonstrates the extent to which UK businesses were prepared for the COVID-19 lockdown, their responsiveness to lockdown, top concerns for business leaders, information currently reported at board level, changes to staff travel and mobility requirements, and their future preparedness.
The top three business concerns for the South West include rebuilding after a loss of business due to COVID-19 (57%), the operational costs of running the business (48%), and the effective management of staff working from home (48%).
Mental health was top of the corporate agenda for South West businesses with 48% of South West business leaders reporting the impact of COVID-19 on staff mental health to their Board.
When it came to future working arrangements, nearly half (48%) of South West businesses have already put flexible working policies in place to enable working from home, and 57% anticipate an increase in working from home in the future. 43% expect to replace face-to-face meetings with video calls, 35% anticipate a reduction in travel to meetings using public transport.
Commenting on the findings Simon Turner, Campaign Manager, Driving for Better Business said: “Every organisation puts in place a business strategy and a plan to deliver on that strategy. They weave in contingencies that enable the plan to be flexible and to react to changing market conditions. Very few would have entered 2020 with a contingency to deal with the fallout from a global pandemic though.”
“COVID-19 caused thousands of deaths across the world and we are only beginning to see the longer-term impact it will have on society, the economy and businesses.”
“Overall, the findings showed that business leaders have similar concerns, though those that run SMEs are more concerned than larger enterprises. Top of mind for business leaders are rebuilding their business and surviving any additional lockdown measures, while managing workforce welfare and mental health.”
“The economic outlook is uncertain, to say the least, with experts divided over exactly how badly different sectors could be affected. , however, our survey sample were optimistic. One thing that is certain though, is that firms must adjust quickly to the current environment and take every opportunity to minimise operational costs and improve efficiencies in order to give themselves the best chance of survival, and the ability to thrive as soon as conditions allow,” said Mr Turner.