Does Snowfall Necessarily Result in Falling Revenue?
With the UK’s roads, rail network and airports all struggling to compete with the persistent ice and snow, this December threatens to be a torrid time for British businesses. Despite the lesson taught by the prolonged cold snap which hit the country in January, it seems that preparations have been somewhat lacking with regard to the transport infrastructure and the chilly white flakes have had more of an impact than they need have. Whilst those countries who are accustomed to snow for a large proportion of the year appear to make us look foolish for our apparent collapse in the face of a few inches of snow- it is important to bear in mind that with the myriad governmental and council cuts, the country just can’t afford to invest in the equipment and labour to facilitate a seamless continuation of transport services when the ice and snow hit.
Supposing that this weather continues, many businesses face a series of problems, most notably high street retailers. Staff absences are likely to increase, whilst retailers will suffer a shortfall in footfall and increasing numbers of businesses will consequently experience plummeting revenue during the historically rich Christmas shopping period. In stark contrast to the potential pitfalls facing high street retailers, online commerce could well experience a noticeable upturn at the expense of their rivals who rely upon physical locations. With many consumers reluctant to brave the elements in order to purchase their Christmas gifts, online shopping is likely to build upon its already growing popularity and pick up the slack from the high street slump. This activity mirrors the year-round shift towards online purchase in areas such as office supplies, books and travel.
Many other businesses who do not operate in the retail sector are also finding ways around the transport problems posed by the current weather. Allowing staff to work from home (provided they can perform their role remotely) is a highly effective means of bypassing the absenteeism issue. Not only does it mean that staff members who would otherwise have been unable to make it into the office are still able to work, having staff work from home is also a great exercise in trust building. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that those who work from home are often more productive than their office based counterparts as they are able to create the work environment which best suits them, do not waste time commuting and often work extra hours. Through email, Skype and remote desktop function it is as though the remote worker is several desks away as opposed to many miles.
Although the snow may be wreaking havoc on commuters right now, if the business landscape changes to embrace the growth in online activity and the opportunities presented by allowing staff to work from home, then maybe next time there will be fewer commuters to affect.