Technology: both disruptor and saviour…

18th March 2020

By Spencer Jinks

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic looks set to have an even more seismic impact on the global economy than the 2008 financial crash.

Dubbing the international crisis an “economic emergency”, yesterday UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an unprecedented package of support for British businesses including £330bn in state-backed loans, support for airlines and a business rates holiday.

Equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP, the measures dwarf the £137bn of public money used to stabilise the UK banking system between 2007 and 2009.

As the UK prepares for the kind of economic and social shutdown not experienced since World War Two, coronavirus will undoubtedly leave us with a very different economy. Putting something of a brave face on the grave situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson predicted economies worldwide would come “roaring back”.

And of course we will bounce back. Where from, no one knows just yet. Why? Because turbulence in the global economy has become the norm in the past decade or more.

The four years since the UK referendum decision to leave the EU have been characterised by almost constant economic and political uncertainty. We finally ‘get Brexit done’ at the end of January and what happens? Coronavirus.

But if we thought digital transformation had created a permanent state of change with disruptors challenging industry models and the furious pace of technological innovation, who knows the economic carnage a prolonged period of social distancing and self-isolation could wreak. Not to mention the potential for many thousands of personal losses to the virus itself.

One of the likely outcomes is even greater use of the very technology that is causing so much destabilisation across various industry sectors; we are in fact seeing that transition daily.

Amazon announced yesterday that they would be hiring an additional 100,000 Associates in the next 12 months, to support what they believe will be a permanent change in consumer behaviours from the traditional to online.

With face to face meetings at a premium, as many of us are forced to work remotely for the foreseeable future, video conferencing really will become the norm for any businesses not already tuned into Skype, Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts.

Fortunately for the executive search industry, the use of technology to source, access and communicate with clients and candidates across the globe is second nature, we have in fact been operating this way for over 10 years. So the impact of having to decamp from the office and work from home will be much less than for other sectors.

Less time travelling means more time researching and preparing candidate shortlists, and even more time to support clients facing yet more upheaval in ever worrying times, working in true partnership with shared responsibility.

So following the Prime Minister’s voice of reassurance, the message from HW Global is that we are well and truly open for business.

We are passionate and totally committed to supporting our clients and candidates through the turbulent weeks and months that lie ahead, just as we have for the past 15 years.

And when this whole situation is over, we will still be there by your side to ensure that you come “roaring back”!

Spencer Jinks is CEO of HW Global Talent Partner. Contact him at spencerj@hwglobalpartner.com or +44 (0) 161 249 5170.