We barely started 2020 before the COVID-19 brought the world down to its knees. With over 55,000 infected, almost 7,000 deaths (and counting), and even the prime minister having spent some time in intensive care (to battle the infection), we now live in historic times.
As a nation, we are doing everything we can to keep moving forward to save the economy and survive the pandemic. From the upper echelons of government to the private sector, for example, most of us have rapidly adopted Work From Home (WFH) or remote working to ensure that life as we know it doesn’t come to a complete standstill.
However, it’s not going to be easy. Sectors like retail, hospitality, and leisure, which are highly sensitive to consumer spending, will be at significant risk. Yet, there is hope as the government introduced a business rates relief plan to help these companies. UK bankruptcy laws are also expected to change to help struggling businesses stay afloat. Even the IR35 implementation has been postponed until next year
However, for software companies and businesses in the UK and beyond that operate on a robust technological foundation, insolvency isn’t a credible threat.
Technology and its related innovations are what we need to get us through the pandemic. If you’re a startup, this is the time when your investors and target customers will depend on you to deliver breakthrough transformative technologies.
But to get there, we can’t afford to slow down.
Getting back to work is critical to retaining your team and surviving the pandemic. Even if we’re stuck at home during these uncertain times, business leaders need to get their staff back on task remotely.
Temporary hibernation equals future death for most businesses because competitors (who continue to operate) can quickly gain an advantage.
Besides, starting again from scratch can be tedious and demotivating, as you may not have that initial drive anymore.
Ways to help the UK businesses keep moving forward or getting back on track
Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to ensure business continuity, while most of the world is on the lockdown. Yet, there’re alternative ways for companies to survive during these turbulent times. Our clients had been using some of them effectively long before the COVID-19 outbreak and are now in good shape to continue their business as usual.
Leverage government programmes
If you’re currently facing this situation, you can take advantage of government programmes to hold on to your in-house team.
For example, in the UK, under certain circumstances, you can claim your employees’ wages through the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In this scenario, you can temporarily relieve your staff while the government pays their salary (or at least part of it) to keep them continuously employed.
As a UK-based software company, Evolve is using this scheme to keep some of our UK staff (who are less loaded than others) in the jobs.
Eliminate unnecessary overheads
Survival also comes down to getting smart with your money. For example, the average cost of a flexible office space per person is between £150 and £1500 per month in the UK (depending on the amenities and the location).
If you’re based in London, the cost of office space per employee will be at the higher end or between £650 and £1500. In Liverpool, it’s comparatively lower, coming in it at £150 to £300 per employee.
Once closures are lifted, experts predict that a lot of people won’t ever want to go back to an office. Even the skeptics who were once opposed to the distributed work revolution will be your new WFH evangelists.
After all, for most business models, work can be completed successfully away from the office. The added benefit is that employees who enjoy this flexibility are also more productive.
Technology companies were some of the early adopters of remote working and already had the infrastructure in place to support it. So why not ditch the traditional office model that’s burning a large hole in your budget and invest the savings in talent recruitment?
Invest in extended remote development teams
As technology is at the heart of finding solutions and adapting to the “new normal,” there will be a need for accelerated development. If you don’t have the capacity to meet your immediate business goal, you need to hire some software engineers.
“Times are going to change; this [pandemic] will be around for some time, so why not prepare, improve your processes, digitise where you can, enable remote working across multi-disciplined teams and remove single points of failure? It makes life much easier to continue processing, even when remote.” Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE, CEO & Founder of Evolve
But hiring within Britain isn’t a feasible option right now. It’ll be both challenging, expensive, and time-intensive to engage in tech recruitment properly. The best alternative now and in the future is to build an extended virtual/remote team.
The extended team model helps British business access a resource-rich yet lower-cost developers in countries like Ukraine (that consistently produce STEM graduates).
This approach can also accelerate your time to market while reducing the total cost of software team ownership. In fact, you can scale your team up or down as needed without any of the HR-related headaches.
If you don’t have the time or resources to build an extended development team on your own, you can partner with an established staff augmentation services provider with access to a vast yet untapped pool of tech talent.
When you start working with senior software engineers in remote R&D centres, your bespoke software can be built rapidly with minimum technical debt and lower labour costs.
In Ukraine, an average mature solutions architect commands a gross salary of approximately $48,000 – $50,000 per year. This means you won’t have to pay anything on top of that (unless you want to reward a stellar developer with a bonus).
Furthermore, time to hire is much shorter, just four to six weeks in Ukraine, as opposed to over three months in the UK.
In contrast, an average London-based solutions architect commands a starting salary of £70,000 per annum but it doesn’t end here. On top of that, you’ll have to offer up to £7,500 in bonuses, almost £20,000 commission, and more than £1,000 in profit sharing. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the potential cost saving of tapping into the talent pool in the continent.
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, staying motivated, leveraging government programmes, and eliminating unnecessary overheads can help companies ensure business continuity and stay afloat.
However, by taking advantage of distributed development teams, countries can also do more than just survive. They can innovate and thrive by transforming this (less than ideal) situation into an opportunity.
Once we overcome the Coronavirus pandemic, the businesses that continued to innovate during the crisis will be better placed to lead the marketplace and embrace the new normal when it comes to virtual collaboration and access to third-party expertise.
To learn more about ensuring business continuity and our experience working in extended remote teams during the COVID-19 pandemic, request a call back now.