Half of all UK businesses are still unable to run at full operational capacity, according to new research shared with City A.M. this afternoon.
Global logistics firm One World Express commissioned a survey of more than 350 decision-makers within UK businesses. It found that 50 per cent had not seen improvements in business performance since lockdown restrictions began to ease in April 2021.
Staff shortages placed a great deal of strain on UK businesses, largely attributed to the NHS track and trace app ‘pingdemic’. At its height in the week to 21 July, nearly 700,000 people in the UK were alerted to self-isolate.
Accordingly, the survey has found that half of all businesses have experienced staff shortages as a result of employees being asked to isolate by the track and trace system. This has had the largest impact on small businesses, with 10 to 49 employees, with 81 per cent being understaffed compared to 54 per cent of larger firms, which have 250 or more employees.
As such, half of organisations have been unable to return to full operational capacity. This figure jumps to 71 per cent amongst micro businesses, firms with two to nine employees.
A further 55 per cent of organisations expressed a belief that any subsequent national lockdowns would be “extremely damaging” to their operations.
Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of managers in UK businesses feel the government needs to be clearer about plans for financial support for UK businesses in the long-term.
Despite these concerns however, businesses remain optimistic; the majority (56 per cent) of decision makers still feel confident about the future, One World Express’ CEO Atul Bhakta said.
“Businesses were never going to bounce back to pre-pandemic capacity immediately. Indeed, uncertainty around social distancing regulations, the track and trace “pingdemic”, as well as employee anxieties have evidently taken their toll on operations,” Bhakta told City A.M.
“Positively however, businesses appear to be turning a corner and feeling confident for the future. Indeed, the reconfiguration of the NHS track and trace system, combined with the ongoing success of the UK’s vaccine roll-out sets organisations on the right path to returning to some form of normality,” he added.
“Business leaders are clear about the ongoing challenges posed to their post-pandemic recoveries – should the government now afford companies more clarity over the long-term financial support that will be in place, it is inevitable that we will see a rejuvenation on confidence,” Bhakta concluded.