- The new normal: Let’s move to a new smart economic growth model based on a sustainable zero carbon aims
- Let’s create a new business model built on an internet highway and not out of concrete
- We must change to sustainable business practices to tackle climate change and to ‘Covid proof’ working methods!
£9000 grants? But help is needed for smaller businesses to do it differently
Many countries around the world are struggling to cope with yet a further wave of the spread of Covid infections including the new variant of the virus. The UK, like many countries in Europe are in extreme lockdown with many, many thousands of businesses having to close their doors for trade. In the UK businesses are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 as part of a £4.6 billion support package for the third national lockdown the government has announced.
But will this £9000 plus the other special grants help businesses through this current crisis? For some it may be just enough and for others breaking point may have already been reached. Throughout last year the UK government intervened with a series of ad hoc measures such as the ‘eat out to help out’ voucher scheme. It seems that the government are doing what they can to try and keep the economy going but surely there must be some other measures which can sustain businesses for the longer term? Already we are hearing scientists saying that there may be further Covid crisis in the coming winter of 2021/2022.
It’s great news about the vaccine but we can’t just rely upon it to bring us back to ‘normal’. And should we return to ‘normal’? The ‘normal’ we had was a world where our business and domestic modus operandi led to ever-increasing levels of emissions of global warming gases! If the scientists are right, we could be heading for an irreversible climate tipping point in just over a decade! We will not be able to buy ourselves out of that crisis!
Business efficiency doesn’t result from vehicle and people movements!
So, what do we do now? Yes, the government needs to shore up business in the short term but to cut greenhouse gases significantly and help businesses survive this crisis and future crises that may be just around the corner we need to change the way we work. We need to stop rushing around in our cars and commute long distances by train and aeroplane in order to get to our employer’s place of work. In the UK, in 2018, 28% of net greenhouse gas emissions in the UK were estimated to be from the transport sector.
Learn from those who have done well in the Covid crisis!
We must learn from this crisis before another crisis (or a further wave of Covid) hits the business sector causing irreversible economic recession.
What businesses have done well? What businesses have not done well? It is very clear that those businesses that have been able to survive do not rely upon ‘retail footfall’ in the high street nor on large groups of people gathering to work in high-rise office blocks. Those businesses that have done well in this crisis have adapted primarily using IT. They have enabled their workers to work remotely. They have enabled orders to flow over the Internet. They have provided services and goods which don’t rely upon high street retail outlets and retail parks. The entertainment and hospitality industry have suffered very badly whilst the value of companies like Amazon and Google have soared.
Let’s use the benefits of the Internet and remote working!
So, what can governments do to help employees and businesses other than doling them out grants? Funding of training and business development programs where IT systems enable people to work remotely should be part of the strategy. It is all very well to say people should work at home and children should participate in remote learning, but do we know how to use these remote networking tools? I suspect many people do not know how to use workflow technology like ‘Microsoft Teams’ or even have sufficiently good enough IT hardware or access to fast networks to support that hardware to move their businesses to a more sustainable basis.
Funding retraining and helping businesses move away from reliance on customers coming through the door should be part of the government’s way forward. £9000 in the UK may help a business survive until the next crisis but £9000 spent on training and IT provision could put that business on a much firmer footing for the future. Businesses need to have a reliable high-speed and high-capacity network to help them do business and compete in global markets.
Cancel the £27 billion road highway programme & help fund the expansion of 5G and the Internet highway!
Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and those businesses that hardly come onto the radar need better network connections especially in rural areas where 17% of the population live and where many of these very small businesses are based. Also, there are millions of people who live on the semirural fringes of major urban areas who are now also being asked to work from home. SMEs, micro businesses, and people working at home need a better network so the government should redouble their efforts to roll out 5G, – the new superhighway of the future. Government intervention is necessary. Currently the government is spending £27 billion on building more roads in the next 5 years. Diverting some of this money to speed up the 5G rollout would be much more effective and both help businesses as well as reducing the impact of transport sector global warming gases. Let us do business on the internet highway and not via the concrete highway!
We must change to sustainable business practices & trading to tackle climate change and to ‘Covid proof’ working methods!