Businesses expecting recovery to take around 18 months

According to the latest research, UK businesses anticipate that it will take around 18 months to fully recover from the disruption of the Coronavirus pandemic and associated social distancing rules.

The survey conducted by The Open University found that business leaders and managers expected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) expect to recover to their pre-pandemic position in 15 months, with larger organisations taking three to six months longer.

Over two-thirds of organisations (71 per cent) have been severely affected by the pandemic. Many have taken the time to invest in training during the lockdown and for that reason, they are expecting to recover more quickly.

In an attempt to get to grips with socially-distanced business models two thirds (67 per cent) of organisations report that learning opportunities have been crucial to enabling their workforce to remain agile throughout the pandemic.

One in five (22 per cent) have embraced technology to meet new business challenges and are now looking for the skills to harness them effectively. As a result, 40 per cent of leaders expect to rely on their employees’ digital capabilities more heavily than before.

However, one in three (33 per cent) organisations are planning to let go of furloughed workers or make other redundancies as pressures to recover mount.

Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University added, “The business landscape has changed almost beyond recognition in the last three months.

“While some leaders will be tempted to replace employees who don’t appear to have the skills required for a post-COVID world, this new data shows that those who have invested in the development of their staff during lockdown are more confident about their recovery.

“The time to invest in skills is now. With the UK approaching deep recession and the economic uncertainty that this will bring, comprehensive and continuous learning is key to adapting to the ‘new normal’ and embracing the challenges that lie ahead.”