We asked Tees business leaders what was the biggest ongoing challenge and biggest opportunity for their business amid the Covid crisis. Here’s what they said…
David Gardner, Stockton office director, Faithful+Gould
The Covid crisis meant millions of people transitioned to working remotely overnight and, therefore, nurturing relationships through face-to-face networking has been put on pause.
Although collaborative digital platforms have allowed us to seamlessly continue with delivery of construction projects and create connections, we have missed the simplicity of a quick catch-up over a coffee to check-in with colleagues, contacts and clients.
What the pandemic has provided, however, is an opportunity to transform a traditional industry into a flexible one. This shift will hopefully attract and accommodate a more diverse skillset into the sector, which is essential for economic growth.
Anne Cowley, director, Baines Jewitt Chartered Accountants
A year ago we were focused on Brexit and how leaving the European Union might affect the local and national economy. We certainly didn’t see Covid-19 coming! So our biggest challenge has been to keep ahead of a rapidly changing situation, whilst developing strategies to protect our own business and those of our clients.
In practice, that means having clear channels of communication with clients (existing and potential); exploring gaps in the market; embracing new ways of doing things with the help of innovative technology and remaining positive and resilient throughout.
Julie Fletcher, co-owner, Pie Jackers
Evaluating the seemingly ever-increasing restrictions and guidelines relevant to our industry has been the biggest challenge. Finding a workable and safe way to continue to serve our customers in these constantly changing circumstances has demanded ingenuity, agility and a huge amount of Dunkirk spirit.
However, it’s also thrown up opportunities that we hadn’t considered, including home delivery of frozen bake-at-home pies and Pie Jackers is delivering to TS postcodes every week.
Kevin Stokes, recruitment manager, Automation Talent Recruitment (ATR)
Like nearly all other companies in the UK, we have faced challenges during the Covid-19 crisis. For us, it would be the fact that our key clients are quiet at the moment, as projects are being delayed or not going ahead due to the pandemic, meaning recruitment for these companies is slow.
This is, however, giving us an opportunity to engage with potential new clients and candidates and build relationships ready for when things do change. We are therefore expanding our database of candidates together with our knowledge of future opportunities ready to act quickly when these opportunities arise.
Glenn Bartlett, managing director, Close Protection Security
CPS have continued to provide high-quality services for all our clients, with increased emphasis on staying safe amidst the current climate. We have ensured that our operations have not downscaled during this time, enabling employees to maintain job security and thus security for their families.
For us, there are three fundamental aspects of security which correlate at all times but especially during this pandemic: providing security to our clients amid increased crime rates, providing security to our staff to keep them employed, and providing security for their families to lead a normal life.
Peter Snaith, partner, Womble Bond Dickinson
Our biggest challenge lies in keeping up with the demand for quality legal service as clients continue to navigate the complex socio-economic issues presented by the pandemic. Covid-19 aside, the impact of Brexit and whether the UK and EU can agree on a deal is a growing concern for the whole legal sector as well as businesses across the region.
However, despite the extraordinary current challenges, we continue to see resilient businesses showing strong leadership with an uncanny ability to adapt and grasp fresh opportunities. Teesside continues to have a bright future as a focal point for investment around free ports, renewable energy, and rebalancing and we will play our role in guiding and supporting businesses and our region as a whole to realise their full potential.