Following the announcement that the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts the UK economy will shrink by 0.1% this year, British business looks set to endure a prolonged period of uncertainty as it recovers.
The Autumn Statement delivered by the chancellor, George Osborne, is grim reading for UK business as continuing problems in the Eurozone, according to the OBR, will `constrain growth for several years to come`. The OBR forecasts the economy will grow by 1.2% next year, then 2% in 2014, 2.3% in 2015, 2.7% in 2016 and 2.8% in 2017.
The Autumn Statement saw few surprises from the Government. However, the currently shrinking economy has forced George Osborne to delay his target of debt beginning to fall as a proportion of GDP by 2015/16 by a further year. “It is a hard road but we are getting there and Britain is on the right track,” said Osborne as he announced the figures.
With economic recovery still some way off and achieving growth very challenging, I believe that UK business must continue their drive for efficiency through new and alternative ways of organising itself, encouraging and supporting a virtual workforce in order to survive and thrive.
By ensuring employees can work when, where, and how they want, businesses are giving themselves a better chance of achieving improved productivity through the reduction of travel and its associated opportunity, financial and environmental costs.
By tapping into the lifestyle aspirations of both emerging Generation Y workforce and experienced baby boomers alike, combined with the trend towards BYOD, they are also increasing the chances of hiring the most talented teams.
The chancellor has put his faith in the private sector to further substitute for public sector employment and stimulate economic growth through a surprise reduction in corporation tax, directly addressing tight credit through the £70bn funding for lending policy and desisting from increasing other taxation such as applying the Fuel Price Escalator. Now, businesses must repay this, and seize the opportunity by organising to focus on supporting virtual teams and mobile employees in order to unlock the true potential of enhanced team performance.
There is no doubt that new innovations, such as UC, are reshaping the way organisations work, but there is a common misconception that the introduction of new technology and simply letting people work from where they want will instantly drive productivity. This is not always the case and unless, businesses effectively support mobile employees and enable and encourage them to fully collaborate, amplifying their impact, they will not realise the economic and social benefit of an agile workforce in a global marketplace.
Increasingly, technology, partnered by effective management is helping businesses deliver on the previously-too-difficult-to-achieve promise of enhanced communication and collaboration. The benefits of a fully managed virtual and connected workforce are clear – the more flexible, scalable and supported is an employee, the more effective and efficient a business can be.