Lockdown has been difficult for business

We know lockdown has been difficult for business, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are five businesses that are booming (and they are not all huge). Find out how lockdown has been difficult for business, take a look at a recent BBC news article about five businesses that are booming despite the lockdown.

Yet in many ways, our current situation is very different to a month ago. Many of us have lost jobs, taken pay cuts or been put on furlough. Boris Johnson has declared the UK past its peak of the outbreak. We can buy toilet roll from the supermarket (albeit after queuing behind people in masks).

Five industries thriving in lockdown

Lockdown has been difficult for businessGifts & Occasions
Mother’s Day was the first weekend under lockdown, order volumes and referrals in the sector soared by 122% and 229% year-on-year respectively. Once the occasion passed, orders began to decline, dropping to just +26% year-on-year. Then Easter arrived. In the week running up to 12th April, order volumes and referrals in the gifting sector significantly increased. By Easter Monday, gift brands were acquiring 415% more new customers via referral year-on-year. (It’s worth noting that Easter fell on different dates last year).

Since Easter, order volumes and referrals in the gift sector have continued to increase and show no signs of slowing. Right now, order volumes are up 245% year-on-year and referrals up 650%.

That means people are buying from and recommending gifting brands each day than they were during Easter, an actual occasion, last year. It seems that in the absence of being able to physically see friends and family, consumers are turning to ecommerce gift brands to send their love from afar.

 

 

Home & Garden
At the start of April, order volumes and referrals for home and garden clients were up 55% and 83% year-on-year respectively. Both have significantly increased since.

As people looked forward to a sunshine-filled Easter at home, they went online to buy plants, baking equipment, and other products to liven up the long weekend in isolation.

On 21st April, referrals peaked at +321% year-on-year, compared to sales at +120%. Both now remain relatively steady at +278% and +110% respectively.

In the current environment, our homes and garden frequently come up in conversation. A comment on a houseplant in the background of a Zoom call, a chat about blooming tulips in the garden, a freshly baked banana bread on Instagram – all these small occurrences lead to brand recommendations and new customers.

 

Lockdown has been difficult for businessHealth & Fitness
In the week following the government’s lockdown announcement, order volumes for health and fitness brands increased by 163% year-on-year. People weren’t just working out in new ways – they were telling others about it, too. Referrals increased by 361%.

Fast forward to now, and orders for health and fitness brands have dropped, though remain significantly higher than this time last year. Order volumes for our clients in this sector are up 85% year-on-year. Referrals are more than double that at +185% year on year.

Consumers also feel less panicked. We may be no closer to knowing when we can next go to the pub, but we know we can go for a jog outside. Plus, with all holiday plans ruled out for the foreseeable, exercise has become more about feeling good than honing the perfect bikini body. How we’re exercising has changed, but our inclination to tell others about it hasn’t.

 

 

 

Food & Drink
March saw a huge spike in demand for food and drink brands as consumers stocked up on pasta, gin and other essentials.

A few months on, sales and referrals in this sector are decreasing, though remain significantly higher than last year. This is likely due to two reasons.

Firstly, consumers have more confidence in supermarket supply chains and government restrictions to know there’s little risk of going hungry. Secondly, many people ordered enough food and drink to last weeks, meaning they don’t need to order again so quickly.

That’s also impacted referrals. With people no longer panicking about running out of fresh veg or (worse) wine, they’re not talking about it as much. And when they do talk about it, they’ve likely already recommended their favourite brands to friends. Nonetheless, things are pretty good for online food and drink brands right now.

 

 

Lockdown has been difficult for businessBeauty
Beauty products weren’t top of consumers’ shopping lists entering lockdown, but they’ve certainly risen up it over the past month.

With more time on our hands, many people are turning their attention to skincare rituals and self-care treats. A bubble bath and facemask are a pretty appealing. As the option for a night out is off the cards.

We are not showing off our newly glowing skin or glossy hair in person. However, we’re still telling our friends about our favourite beauty brands.

At the start of April, beauty sales had increased by 37% year-on-year and referrals by 64%. Sales are now up 110% year-on-year, with referrals a significant 356% higher than this time last year.

 

 

Business planning for the future

Lockdown has been difficult for business as people are continuing to shop online as well as speaking with their loved ones. That presents a powerful opportunity for brands with a relevant offering and effective referral programme.

The fragile economy is also making people increasingly conscious of how they’re spending their money. A brand that comes with a friend’s seal of approval is far more likely to result in a purchase. Compared to a random website found online – particularly if it comes with a discount or other incentive.

Rather than simply enjoy the surge in orders and referrals, now is the time for thriving businesses to plan for the future. Those with effective retention strategies will prosper long-term; those without will fall by the wayside.

Obviously, LIS can’t help with the development of your business, but that is fine as that is your area of expertise! Tech is our job so contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss  how your IT needs to evolve to help drive your business in the post corona world. Whether you need to keep your data secure, deliver long term working from home, create a safe hot desking environment, make best use of a flexible phone system or just give your staff the “looked after” feeling that LIS brings to its clients, we can help. We will give you the best advice, suggest the best solutions and are more than happy to help.

Hopefully your business has survived this tough period and you are now starting on the long road to the new stable business life. Lockdown has been difficult for business but with LIS at least the IT is sorted!

#LockdownBoom #GoodForBusiness #InDemand

Preparing To Go Back To Your Workplace

At some point, the quarantine will end and you will need to start preparing to go back to your workplace. However, it’s unlikely this return will be “business as usual,” but will instead have to factor in the new nuances COVID-19 has brought about. How we handle going back to work will have a big impact on whether we rid ourselves of COVID-19 for good or if we see the coronavirus come back for new mass infections, as the Spanish Flu did a century ago. So lockdown is still in force right now.

Have you started preparing to go back to your workplace?

Governments around the world have begun easing restrictions and businesses are preparing to open. This phase requires active management of employee expectations and providing clarity and direction when they return to work – addressing health & safety, organizational and emotional challenges during the process. The more you plan and act now, the easier it will be.

As employers, we have an enormous responsibility to get our team members back to work as safely as possible. Rushing head-on as if nothing has changed since before the virus reached our shores is a sure fire way to end up with another quarantine and many sick employees. So you have to plan TODAY for how you are going to reopen your business.

There are three areas to consider:

  1. Your people, especially if you end up with a mix of some at the workplace, and others still working from home
  2. The equipment they use. Laptops are still difficult to buy with limited supplies. But there are ways around this
  3. Your data. It’s a good time to check your data security has not been compromised by all the changes made over the last few weeks.

We are Lodge Information Services Limited and over 1,000 people in Essex trust us to keep them working properly every day (during lockdown and normal times). We do not know when the lockdown will end. It is time to start getting ready for the return to your workplace. We have written a guide on how you can prepare. The more you plan and act now, the easier it will be when it happens.

Click here to download our useful guide.

Preparing to go back to your workplace

When you start to put together a plan, look at how the lockdown has affected your business.

#EndOfLockdown #ReturnToWorkplace

Working From Home Advice

Working from home advice given to you by your employer will keep you safe and stay focused. Record numbers of us are now working remotely from home, so allows some businesses to carry on trading. Sudden increases of home workers with the arrival of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will help business play their part in reducing the risks. The more you prepare now for the end of lockdown, the easier it will be.

Many businesses are trying to help their employees work from home, if they can. Some technology companies which produce software used by remote workers that include Zoom and Slack, have received a bump in share prices in recent days.

Make sure you have space to be productive

It’s fair to say that life has become more difficult for everyone right now because COVID-19 has changed everything. We are all struggling to adjust to new ways of living and working. As companies implement work from home policies, employees are tasked with trying to be as productive without their normal resources.

When you’re working from home, it can be all too easy to blur the lines between your work life and your personal life, because they blend into one. You are working on spreadsheets, on a conference call, cleaning the kitchen, and feeding the dog all at the same time. Seems impossible, right? That’s because it is.

Routine is an important part of work and it doesn’t become any less important because you’re working from home. So, that coffee you make at 10am every day in the office? Do it at home. The lunch you take at 1pm? Put it in your calendar. That task you unconsciously do while chatting to your colleague on a Monday morning? Keep doing it.

There are some perks to working from home (bye bye commute!), but feeling stress, boredom, anxiety and uncertainty is also completely normal. Alongside this, many of us are worried about future job prospects and trying to look after kids as well. Dedicating a room or corner of your home as workspace will enable you to be more productive.

Working from home (WFH) is not for everyone

It takes time to get used to working from home, communicating with colleagues and avoid distractions of a home environment.  With the right tools, setup, mindset and empowering good habits will come naturally with this new method of working.

So here we are six weeks into Corona lockdown and for some this will have been a first experience of WFH. Even though the talk is now all about returning to normal, we think the new normal will contain a lot of WFH for many of us. Time to work out the wrinkles and turn the emergency response into a long-term viable solution. Here are some working from home tips for getting the most out of your working day. We hope this guide will help.

Click here to download our useful guide about working from home advice.

Working from home advice

Contact us for managed IT services, network support and telecoms.

#coronavirus #wfh #workingfromhome

Business Boom or Bust?

Boom or bust? The evidence is at best unclear!

UK business hits the brakes: 2019’s first quarterly report from the Chambers of Commerce.

PS we refuse to take part in a recession. Business is booming here 👍

Confused? Well yes!

How do you fix the 2020 problem without breaking the bank? Are we facing a massive recession? Is Brexit a cloud with a silver or maybe even gold lining? Are we just putting a brave face on things as we rearrange the deck chairs on the titanic? Is it boom or bust?

With all this going on companies are expected to managed the phasing out of old technology and take on increased business obligations with all the associated costs and risks. To make your tech decisions easier, LIS has finance options which can spread the costs over many years, including hardware, maintenance, support and setup. We can increase business efficiency through automation and systems integration. If you need to look at ways to improve your IT without monster cost then contact LIS and we will give honest, realistic, professional advice.

#business #finance #brexit #commerce #2020

 

The British Chambers of Commerce?s quarterly economic survey ? the largest private sector survey of business sentiment and leading indicator of UK GDP growth ? found that key indicators of UK economic health weakened considerably in the first quarter of 2019. The balance of services firms reporting a rise in export sales at its lowest level in a decade The balance of firms reporting improved cashflow turned negative for the first time since 2012 Investment intentions in both manufacturing and services sectors at lowest level for eight years Against a backdrop of a slowing global economy, escalating Brexit uncertainty, and rises in business costs as the UK enters a new tax year, the latest results from the survey of over 7,000 businesses ? employing around one million people ? reflect a deterioration in many gauges of the UK?s economic strength. In the services sector, the percentage balance of firms reporting an increase in export sales stood at zero, its weakest level since 2009 and the orders balance turned negative (more firms reporting that orders have decreased than those reporting an increase) for the first time in eight years. The balance of firms reporting improved domestic sales and orders also weakened significantly in the quarter. Among manufacturers, the percentage of firms reporting an increase in domestic and export sales and orders dropped back to their 2016 levels. The balance of firms reporting improved cashflow ? a key indicator of business health ? and which has been declining over recent years, has now gone into negative territory for the first time since 2012. The lack of clarity over the UK?s future relationship with the EU is continuing to weigh on investment intentions in both the manufacturing and services sectors. The balance of firms who looked to invest in either plant and machinery or training dropped in both sectors to their lowest level in eight years. Business confidence in profitability and turnover also deteriorated sharply in the quarter. The leading business group has been calling for an end to the relentless uncertainty, which as the latest results from the long-standing business survey highlight, has damaged the confidence and investment plans of business communities. Westminster must ensure that a messy and disorderly exit is avoided and provide firms with certainty on future conditions to prevent further declines. To kickstart strong growth in the economy, government must return its attention and energy to removing barriers to growth in the domestic environment. Ill-timed increases in business costs ? including compliance with Making Tax Digital, higher business rates for some firms, increased employer pension contribution requirements, and more ? are also raising costs pressures for companies across the UK at a time when government should be looking to reduce rather than increase burdens. Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: ?Our latest survey suggests that UK growth nearly ground to a halt in the first quarter of 2019, with increasing anxiety over Brexit and weakening global economic conditions driving a significant deterioration in almost all the key indicators in the quarter. ?The services sector suffered the more substantial loss of momentum in the first quarter with both domestic and international activity slowing sharply in the quarter. The manufacturing sector continues to struggle amid tougher global and domestic trading conditions and rising cost pressures. The marked decline in the export indicators in both sectors suggests that net trade is likely to have been a drag on UK GDP growth in Q1. The deterioration in cash flow is concerning as it can leave firms more vulnerable to external shocks, including disruptions to supply chains. ?The forward-looking indicators are disappointingly downbeat with weakening orders, confidence and investment intentions pointing to precious little growth over the coming quarters, unless substantial action is taken.? Reacting to the Q1 results, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ?Our findings should serve as a clear warning that the ongoing impasse at Westminster is contributing to a sharp slowdown in the real economy across the UK. Business is hitting the brakes ? hard. ?These are some of the weakest figures we?ve seen in nearly a decade, and that?s no coincidence. The prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU is weighing heavily on the UK economy, and must still be avoided. The unwanted prospect of a disorderly ?no deal? exit, and the serious damage and dislocation it would bring, is still just days away unless Parliament acts to avoid it. ?At the same time that firms are having to enact costly contingency plans, the cost of doing business here in the UK continues to rise. This week seesa new tax year with a number of changes adding to the upfront cost of doing business in the UK, including the introduction of Making Tax Digital and changes to auto-enrolment, leaving many firms facing more bureaucracy and new expenses. It beggars belief that ministers are piling on more and more costly obligations at a time that businesses are already having to cope with Brexit and uncertainty. ?For too long Brexit tunnel-vision has distracted government from fixing the fundamentals to support growth here in the UK. We need to see an increased focus on creating the conditions for business success here at home ? including concerted efforts to plug growing labour shortages, delivering an immigration policy that works for business and speeding up physical and digital infrastructure projects.? Key findings in the Q1 2019 survey: Manufacturing sector: The balance of firms reporting increased domestic sales fell six points to +15, while those reporting improved domestic orders also fell from +16 to +9 ? both are at their weakest level since Q4 2016 The balance of firms reporting improved export sales fell from +20 to +14, and the balance of firms reporting improved export orders dropped from +18 to +10 ? both their weakest since 2016 The balance of firms reporting improved cashflow dropped into negative territory for the first time since Q3 2012, standing at -1 (down from +10) The percentage of firms attempting to recruit fell from 67% to 62%, the weakest since Q1 2012. Of those, 79% reported recruitment difficulties, close to its record high The balance of firms increasing investment in plant/machinery fell in the quarter from +18 to +6, the weakest since Q4 2011, and investment in training from +19 and +14, weakest since Q3 2012 The balance of firms confident that turnover and profitability will increase in the next 12 months fell, from +41 to +26 for turnover and +27 to +13 for profitability ? both are at their weakest since Q4 2011 Services sector: The balance of firms reporting increased domestic sales fell from +18 to +10, the weakest since Q3 2016. Those reporting improved domestic orders fell from +14 to +5, the lowest since Q3 2012 The balance of firms reporting improved export sales fell from +14 to +0, the weakest since Q2 2009. Those reporting improved export orders dropped from +9 to -2, reaching negative territory for the first time since Q4 2011 The balance of firms reporting improved cashflow dropped in negative territory for the first time since Q4 2012, falling from +6 to -1 The percentage of firms looking to recruit fell slightly to 48%. Of those, 70% had recruitment difficulties ? the same as in the previous quarter, close to its record high The balance of firms looking to increase investment in plant and machinery fell from +10 to +1 (weakest since Q3 2011), and from +15 to +10 in training (lowest since Q3 2012) The balance of firms confident that turnover and profitability will improve over the next year fell slightly, from +37 to +26 for turnover (lowest since Q4 2011) and +28 to +19 in profitability (weakest since Q3 2016). Ends Notes to editors: Spokespeople are available for interview and a full QES is available from the press office. The BCC Q1 2019 QES is made up of responses from more than 7,000 businesses across the UK employing around one million people and is the largest independent business survey in the country. 1744 are manufacturers (25% of the overall sample), 5340 are service firms (75% of the overall sample)and 94% of respondents are SMEs (firms with fewer than 250 employees).Firms were questioned between 18 February and 11 March 2019 on a wide range of business issues, including: domestic sales and orders; export sales and orders; employment prospects; investment prospects; recruitment difficulties; cashflow; confidence; and price pressures. How are balances calculated? QES results are generally presented as balance figures – the percentage of firms that reported an increase minus the percentage that reported a decrease. If the figure is a plus it indicates expansion of activity and if the figure is a minus it indicates contraction of activity. A figure above 0 indicates growth, while a figure below 0 indicates contraction. For example, if 50% of firms told us their sales grew and 18% said they decreased the balance for the quarter is +32% (an expansion). If 32% told us their sales grew and 33% said they fell the balance is -1% (a contraction).

 

Brexit HR Game changer?

How will Brexit change the game for HR?

I know that we are all bored of Brexit, but it is the gift that keeps on giving. The focus today is on HR.

Brexit is impacting on recruitment, retention, legislative framework, the mergers and acquisitions world, training and management of staff. Not just in terms of uncertainty which has become a given, but with the changes that have occurred already.

LIS can help by supporting mobile working, working from home, automation and telephony solutions which enable creative solutions to the current HR challenge. Call us if you need to chew it over. Oh, and if your current helpdesk can’t greet your users by name when they call and remember if they are on android or apple without having to ask, give us a try. Personal, professional IT support beats anonymous impersonal scripting every time.

#management #business #HR #brexit

 

In the aftermath of an untidy referendum, Britain?s decision to exit the European Union has been filled with continued uncertainty about how Brexit will change the HR game.