It’s a game of two halves

With G7 leaders gathering and the start of the Euro football competition last weekend, we had some echoes of normality once again… only to be dashed at the start of the week with another 4 week extension to lockdown restrictions.

This new variant seems tricky. With high degrees of transmissibility, it is now the dominant strain in the UK. Once in the population, it seems it spreads rapidly, especially amongst without antibodies or not vaccinated or. No wonder the borders are still shut to many countries, although I fear it is only a matter of time before we see the same pattern there too. Rather frustratingly the stalemate between virus and governments seems to be continuing.

Despite this, it is not to say that things are not busy. In fact most people I have spoken to, over the last few weeks, have talked about just how busy they are.

There already seems to be a bounce back, and for those that have saved during the pandemic, it seems like the money is burning a hole in their pockets. Sales of garden renovations, even hot tubs and lazy-spas all seem to have increased.

The question… and it’s big question, is how long will any spending bump continue.

Is this a one-time summer splurge or will this be maintained over the longer term to help with economic recovery?

This was echoed in an excellent talk this week from CICM. It was an economic perspective from an insolvency practitioner’s point of view… we have likely yet to see the full impact… we are only at the start of a chain of events.

  • Furlough finishes
  • Companies have to pay 100% of salaries again
  • These need to be supported by sales
  • If not, businesses will close
  • People need to find new roles
  • If not, there is risk of financial difficulties from economic change in circumstance
  • Arrears and defaults rise

All this takes time…. with a summer spurge Q3 and Q4 are now looking likely the critical landing dates, compounded by potential inflation watch too.

With so many moving parts, all of this can be quite chaotic and as a result unpredictable. We just need to hope the bounceback is stronger than expected and any impacts minimized.

In the meantime summer is here, the football is on, it is time to relax and forget about it for a bit… we have a little more time, the weekend at least 🙂

Have a good weekend everyone.

Other stories of interest this week

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Jammy, trick or treat?

Getting out and about is now starting to add up again financially.

Starbucks, Cafe Nero, Pret-a-manager, a little treat here and there is all very tasty, however now noticeably more expensive than the tea and biscuits I have got used to at home it seems… not a surprise, but definitely a new consideration these days.

And, it is getting busy again.

Traffic jams, to be honest, were not something I have looked back on fondly, nor missed during the lockdown. They now seem to be returning again… and quickly too as we all try to eschew public transport, where we can, to get to the office.

However, workwise, it has been genuinely great to see everyone again, to get some stuff done and have a bit of a laugh together. Long may this continue.

Life is all pros and cons I suppose… and with more caution on the horizon, let’s hope this progress safely continues too.

Have a good week everyone.

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The importance of verbal communication

Human communication can sometimes be a strange and subtle thing. I was reminded of this, this week, in an online exchange where there was a misunderstanding, and things should I say, got a little testy.

I am not sure what exactly has happened, but the social media age seems to have changed us. Online communication, and on social media in particular, there now seems to be no filter. Critical or hurtful, many people just say what they think, irrelevant to the consequence of what is being said. You only have the read the comments listed on Twitter or Facebook to see this played out – keyboard warriors all in the privacy of our front room.

This behaviour clearly seems to be now also bleeding through to email too.

Fortress email

For me the email was always a bastion of caution. How many of us have spend hours pouring over an email, trying to get the wording just right – trying to convey a message clearly, yet also avoiding any misinterpretation.

It was never easy and, being human, I know I have dropped more than a few clangers on the way, even sitting on emails overnight to re-read in the cold light of the next day.

However, in this new world of insta-comment with expectations of insta-response, I wonder if all this caution is fading. Now in emails too, it seems we are frequently becoming more grumpy.

Power of human centred communication

Although digital forms of communication are everyday, thanks to the easing of lockdown restrictions, I am now able to get out to meet people again in person. The contrast has been quite stark.

Within 10 minutes, many misunderstandings are smoothed over with things back on track. It may not change what was said, but somehow it just doesn’t seem relevant with the person standing in front of you. Most of the time we all like to try to get along.

All of this points again to the importance of human to human interaction, in generating common understanding and avoiding misunderstanding. In our remote working, digital-enabled world this has important implications.

Undoubtedly exchanging information digitally is highly efficient, quick and easy. For many things, transactional and everyday, it works very well. However, when things become complicated, fraught or sensitive injecting the human element is clearly important. Another human reaching out offering genuine support can be invaluable.

Avoiding consequences and cost

Getting this right is a tricky balance. Doing it well can not only provide better support and understanding, but also avoid negative consequences of misunderstanding and save the cost of subsequently picking up the pieces.

As we exit lockdowns and look for a new balance, it is something we may all need to factor in.

Have a good weekend everyone.

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