Week 25: Back to school again

A return to school this week was also a return again to getting up early… it was all a bit of a blur – it felt early. However it did mark a step towards more normality so I hope is a good thing… observations from this week.

  • I have been observing our local high street – which shops have re-opened and those that have not. It felt like a commentary on services we need, those we use, and those run with a profit margin for hard times… fortunately in the main things seem to be coming back.
  • I also noticed this week how unusual it is getting to have actual phone calls… most are teams or zoom meetings these days and using the phone now feels an extra step… how times have changed and so quickly too
  • Workwise, a couple of really interesting conversations on using digital to redesign and rethink processes so they are better. Also, the debate on pure offsite vs onsite working continues. It’s a time of change and new ideas for sure.

Have a great week everyone… @chris_w_tweet

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A tale of two halves: Weekly roundup 4 September 2020

Gradually over the last few weeks, there has been a gradual return to school and with Labour day in N. America this weekend, the summer will be ‘officially’ over….. this really is another milestone in the return to ‘normal rules’ and it has started to flow through the newscycle this week too.

The Economy

In the UK the furlough scheme is now starting to wind down, and gradually starting to flow through to employment levels with an acceleration of job losses in August. It is not doom and gloom in all some sectors mind you, notably this week Amazon annouced the hiring of 7,000 new roles.

The motor industry and housing market have also seen a strong bounceback, with car sales strong somewhat on the back of a perceived need to avoid public transport to get to work. Similarily housing has seemingly lots of demand build up during the lockdown period (and no doubt helped by the stamp duty tax cut too).

Industries such as retail and food/accommodation however have been hit hard and with each industry having different levels and speed of return it really does feel like a complete resizing and reshaping of the economy is upon us.

A lending bounce back?

Some of this has translated through to a bounce-back in lending, with consumer borrowing returning to pre-COVID levels; Mortgage demand and credit card spending increased…

… and although the demand is higher from consumers, the other side of this equation is of course the lender and this is where it becomes more complicated.

Lenders are now starting to become more cautious, conscious of what may lay ahead. We are starting to see credit card limits being reduced and restrictions on mortgages increasing.

It is becoming a tale of two halves

  • If your industry was impacted, you were on furlough, not in a role or struggling; economically things are tough, money is being saved and people are concerned. How will bills be paid and where will the next paycheck come from.
  • If your industry has been minimally impacted, and you were in a job, (such as in financial services or public sector – not that it has not been busy mind you), economically some folks are actually better off.

How we navigate all this will become apparent in the next 4-6 weeks, but this is shaping up to be an uneven recovery and credit crunch for some.

Lastly, The Return of the office – part 2. The bun fight over the return to the office still continued this week, with business on one side saying it is not practical (and employees voting with their feet) and the government on the other saying you should go back. In what appeared to be any attempt the referee, the Bank of England stepped into the argument… the debate continues, and I don’t see us back in offices, en mass anytime soon.

That was the week that was…. have a good weekend everyone…. @chris_w_tweet

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Week 24: Outdoor – Indoor Eating

It’s a long weekend here, so an extra day off. Things really do seem quite normal again, certainly with the traffic. Thoughts for this week.

  • Video call etiquette. This is sending me into a spin… on or off?… There are definitely ‘video on’ and ‘video off’ people… firm opinions on either side… I am losing count of the number of times I am the only one on video, my face looming large, or sheepishly having to turn it on half-way through a call hoping no one notices… still working on this one!
  • Everyone is now starting to eat out again and there seems to be a trend in ‘outdoor eating’, really to work around capacity constraints of eating indoors. Yet as the weather cools, outdoor seating is now starting to go undercover, then with wind barriers, then heaters… I mean when does outdoors become indoors… it is all going to get confusing…!
  • Workwise, I know I have previously mentioned my fondness for Pret-A-Manager, but spare a thought for their employees this week (and for many others elsewhere)… the economy is changing before our eyes and it is a time for uncertainty for many… will try to support

Stay safe everyone, have a good week… @chris_w_tweet

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