In June 2020, Blue Saffron commissioned Larato to undertake a survey of UK mid-market Enterprises, to ascertain the business impact of Covid-19. Ninety-seven percent of our respondents were IT Directors or decision makers in companies employing up to 1,000 people.

On lockdown, every industry faced a unique set of challenges. The recruitment sector however, spans every industry, and faced instant interruption to activities right across the board. Whether it was construction, engineering, leisure or retail, the impact was profound and immediate in both the permanent and temporary sectors.

Agencies – the permanent market froze and temporary hiring, which is 90% of the market, saw a dramatic drop in requirements. In practice, this meant firms which may have had hundreds or thousands of people on a site on a Friday, had zero people on Monday. With no revenue.

Recruitment is driven by people and underpinned by technology. As a people driven industry, it is unsurprising that workforce retention was uppermost in 45% of our respondents’ minds. 40% aimed simply to survive.

With an instantly dispersed workforce, efficient, secure, and flexible infrastructure immediately became of paramount importance; our survey indicated that over 60% had services to both staff and customers impacted.

So, as workers became established at home, how did enterprises create operational efficiencies with technology in order to maintain productivity and profitably retain both their staff and their customers? Blue Saffron’s experience of working with enterprises as they tackled these problems involved supporting clients who had to instantly transition thousands of employees from a stable office setting to a homeworking environment where unmanaged domestic broadband connections and BYOD were the norm. Having reflected on the challenges customers have experienced and what next steps they want to take, Blue Saffron has designed a remote working solution specifically for the mid-market Enterprise. It  includes secure, managed business-grade connectivity, , cloud-based Microsoft applications –  including Teams–  that are configured to protect against data loss. The solution also includes sourcing or upgrading equipment and applications to enable effective remote working. You can find more details about this service here.

Within our group of respondents, security was an overriding concern: 20% said that they had to address security concerns with new or updated protection. Many agencies work in regulated industries like defence, health, social care and handle sensitive information and there’s a whole range of protocols governing how that  information is accessed remotely, handled, stored, and protected.

But it’s not just GDPR and traditional security that is of concern. Recruitment is a highly competitive industry; founders who have had to furlough or dismiss staff are now more  concerned about data leakage and data protection. This is because, as workers relocated from central offices to hundreds of remote locations, they introduced new threat vectors and recruitment companies became more exposed to data security problems almost overnight. Overall, the cybersecurity challenges have been compounded – the existing threat of a breach to central systems is now augmented by this new remote risk.

Big business decisions are usually based on empirical evidence and historical data. Covid-19 has no precedence and there is no blueprint for what happens next. So how do enterprises plan for an uncertain future in which the threat of secondary and subsequent waves of the pandemic, mean that anything could happen at any time?

It’s gratifying to know that over 50% of our participants said that Covid-19 has demonstrated the value of working with partners to better manage their IT. Chief Executive Officers are  particularly interested in mitigating risk by working more with partners to manage their technology.

Amidst the challenges, there are also plenty of opportunities. including the greater use of outsourcing to allow increased flexibility during what might be a saw-toothed recovery and others contemplating growth strategies using M&A.

Smarter agencies are looking to become more advisory than transactional in their business dealings. Decisions are not made in a vacuum and can be better enabled when supported by managed IT service companies providing simple access to high-quality data. The Blue Saffron team, platform and experience optimises and de-risks working practises enabling organisations to be lean and nimble while mitigating the risk of cyber threats and ensuring regulatory compliance.’ Suhail Mirza, Strategic Advisory Board Member of Blue Saffron.

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