My Column

Is a switch to TGI Thursday 2021 vision

  • Date: Monday 14th December 2020
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As we slowly crawl towards the tail end of what has certainly been an eventful twelve months, I can safely say that I’m very much looking forward to the New Year and I’m certain I’m not alone in this. 

I’m not sure what the state of a post-2020 Scotland may be, but with thoughts quickly progressing to what 2021 has in store, I’ve already made a start on planning my New Year resolutions.

However, after the year that everyone has had, it seems like individual Scots aren’t the only ones looking to change their daily way of doing things for the better, as businesses reflect on what might their ‘new normal’ look like next year.

It’s no surprise that productivity across the nation dropped by 22 per cent in the first half of 2020, due to obvious pandemic reasons, according to the annual CBI Scotland and KPMG Scottish Productivity Index. Because of this, there’s a rush to come up with innovative ideas on how Scotland can perform a mild reset on the typical ways of working for when we return to a semblance of normality.

The first rumblings of this new approach were spoken about at the recent SNP conference, where a reduced working week was put forward as a way to adapt and meet the needs of the future economy.

However, the proposal for a ‘three-kend’ for workers is only on the table if independence is achieved so it is not a done deal just yet - but a four day working week has proven beneficial for other nations.

With a high proportion of workers currently still working from their home offices due to Covid-19 restrictions, Holyrood is considering that this new approach would be perfect for a post-pandemic Scotland - creating a ‘happier, healthier, more productive’ week for employees and in turn boosting positive mental health and productivity. A similar model in Denmark was cited as the benchmark, with the country boasting a 23 per cent higher productivity rate than Scotland.

What’s more, the Autonomy Think Tank also discovered earlier in the year that this new shift in working patterns could result in an additional 500,000 jobs for the public sector in the UK as well. This isn’t surprising if you’re not going to have to cut services by 20% to accommodate the new ways of working.

Quite how all of this is going to be paid for is an entirely different matter and cold, hard economics probably rule it out as a viable option…

Unsurprisingly, this radical approach didn’t seem to appear in the aforementioned CBI Scotland index report, which instead suggested a few alternative methods that the nation could take to increase productivity and boost the economy.

Despite, the drop in productivity in the first part of 2020, there appears to be progress being made in some key areas, with businesses thinking outside the box during these uncertain times.

The report’s recommendations, which have been put to the Scottish government for consideration, cited that productivity priorities included focusing more on the mental and physical health of workers, green infrastructure and transport to reduce carbon footprints, as well as expanding current training models so that everyone has access to funding for training to promote innovation.

The findings also lent a theoretical helping hand to individual businesses as well, considering their future physical and tech needs, along with upskilling opportunities to help businesses bolster themselves in light of the changing way of working.

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black noted that the report’s findings have shone a light on the fault lines beneath Scotland’s economic performance in 2020, especially with the challenges facing the hard hit hospitality, retail and tourism sectors.

By having a well-trained, healthy and flexible workforce, she believes that Scotland can not only recover from 2020, it can rebuild and reflect through a new sustainable recovery that can provide a further boost to the Scottish economy.

Regardless of how this year has went, the best solution is to keep our thoughts and our businesses facing forward to the future.

With one final whimper and a Hogmanay-less swansong, 2020 will be over and we can stride forward into whatever 2021 throws at us – including a potential ‘three-kend’.

LAUGH (134)

It’s my favourite time of the year and TV channel Gold has announced its top Christmas cracker jokes of 2020.

There’s been little to chuckle about over the past 12 months, but thankfully the UK still has a sense of humour, and everything from lockdown, Zoom meetings, tiers, levels and even some political figures feature.

The winning joke asks ‘what is Dominic Cummings favourite Christmas song?’- can you guess the answer? Driving Home for Christmas, of course!

The saga around Barnard Castle and the prime ministers chief advisor clinched first place for obvious reasons.

With the challenges and hardships we’ve faced this year, I think we all deserve a laugh so I would recommend reading the top twenty and be prepared to hear them again and again over the next few weeks from various family members.

WEEP (133)

I think it’s fair to say people are very much getting into the Christmas spirit, since it’s been such a long and difficult year.

We’re putting trees up earlier than ever and hanging more lights than usual because we know we need to spread some extra cheer.

However that’s not the case at the A&E department in The Royal Infirmary Glasgow as workers have been instructed not to hang Christmas decorations or wear Christmas jumpers under their PPE.

NHS staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the year, surely deserve a little something extra festive to help them get through the rest of 2020.

I can’t help but think how many smiles a Christmas jumper or a tree would provide for the real heroes of 2020, so bah humbug to the powers that be.

SIDE (296)

We’re less than two weeks away until the ‘big day’ and many of us are likely to be rushing around trying to get organised in the lead up to Christmas.

This involves finding the perfect presents, which means shopping in some capacity - be it on the high street, if the government permits, or online.

However, shopping for Christmas has certainly been different this year. With many retailers across Scotland just reopening their doors following a reduction in level restrictions, many of us will have opted to buy online instead.

With the news of Debenhams and the Arcadia group potentially going under, taking with them over 25,000 jobs, it is a devastating loss to the High Street, but not a total surprise.

Yes, Debenhams has been on a shaky nail for a while now, but thanks to rate revaluations they bought themselves time to stay afloat and I’m sure they had hoped the build up to Christmas would have helped sales.

However, with shops having to close due to various lockdowns across the UK, 2020 has taken its toll on the business.

In my opinion the government has dug an early grave for the retailer, with no real thought on the longstanding damage enforced restrictions will have on our retail industry.

Online retailers have had an unfair advantage thanks to being able to continue throughout lockdown, whilst the likes of Debenhams have scrambled to try and keep up, but failed to do so.

As a landlord myself, I sympathise with these businesses, large or small, who have been ignored by councils and government, and punished with no consultation.

The death of the High Street is not something the government will want on its hands, however it will certainly need to take drastic measures to avoid it.

 

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