Preparing your business for the future

The Future of Work Summit was an inspiring event that helped businesses get ahead of future workplace trends and made clear that through a combination of insightful staff, renewed leadership and our collaborative business community, Buckinghamshire's businesses can be prepared for whatever is around the corner.

Prior to the summit, held at Rackleys Chiltern Hills, we held our AGM and shared our message of a collaborative business community getting things done. A prime example of this can be seen in our latest Annual Report, which is full of detail about the support we offered and the achievements of local businesses.

In Buckinghamshire, we mean business. Don’t believe us? It says so in this fabulous video that showcases many of our creative and wonderful businesses!

Future of Work Summit

We have captured the essence of the Future of Work Summit below, while you can also see pictures from the event here. Watch out for a podcast episode off the back of the event too!

Philippa Batting, Managing Director of Buckinghamshire Business First, was clear about several things in her welcome to the summit:

  • We live in a world of continuous disruption.
  • There is no going back to the status quo, or even a status quo at all now.
  • Businesses need to step up to provide the jobs, create the wealth, develop the leadership and realise the ideas that bring about the change we want to see.

Philippa was equally clear that, no matter the challenges facing businesses, Buckinghamshire Business First and the local business community is here to help by sharing their time, experience and expertise, and connecting those who need support with the very support they need.

Checking the temperature of the Buckinghamshire business community

During the summit, we asked businesses what their main challenges are at this time. Their responses varied, but the most common challenges identified can be seen below:

  1. People and recruitment
  2. Sales and marketing
  3. Access to finance
  4. Workforce skills
  5. Operations (processes and systems)
  6. Business model innovation
  7. Hybrid working

Other challenges identified include: energy costs, Net Zero, procurement, accessibility, diversity, upskilling the next generation, late payments, the cost of doing business, automation, mental health, and supply of materials.

We would like to hear from you too

If you weren’t with us at the AGM and Future of Work Summit, we want to ask you the same questions we asked those in attendance.

So please do take just a few minutes to tell us what the three main challenges are for your business right now.

Answer some brief questions here >

The answers you give will help us to evidence-base the need that exists to support businesses and will help inform the future direction of our support activity.

What are the workplace trends you need to know about?

The keynote speaker at the summit was Cat Barnard from Working the Future, who spoke about the top trends that are transforming work, how attitudes to work are changing, and the business opportunity here in Buckinghamshire.

You can learn plenty by viewing the slides from Cat’s presentation here >

As Cat said in her speech: as a business community, we are better together. And that’s crucial, she told the room, because our young people are relying on us to get this right!

With that in mind, Cat was joined on stage by leaders and influencers from local businesses for a panel discussion, taking questions and talking through some of the main challenges and opportunities for businesses.

As well as Cat, the panel included:

  • Fred Davies, Managing Director, Better Prospects
  • Steve Goodman, Field Chief Technology Officer, Mirus IT / Content + Cloud
  • Rob Buckland, Sales & Operations Director, GRIDSERVE
  • Helen Barrett, Head of Marketing & General Manager Sustainability, Moogies 

The discussion that followed was one that will certainly linger in the minds of those in attendance.

Among the nuggets extracted:

Hybrid working

While there is no blueprint for what the perfect hybrid workplace looks like, your staff will be full of insightful answers if you ask them the questions about what they want and need from their workplace.

Communication, communication, communication

You can have the technology, the ideas, the drive, the people… but if you don’t have strong communication with your team, all of that will count for nothing.

The technology is there to support hybrid working, but the key to a successful hybrid workplace is communicating the goals and how to achieve them with your team.

This brings us to leadership…

If the status quo has changed and is never coming back, then leadership styles need to change too.

Managing a group of people email and video calls poses different challenges to managing the same group in person, especially if there flexible working hours thrown into the mix.

This means re-humanising work and empowering your teams to take ownership. Delegating to them and trusting them.

Sustainability is the only way to go

Operating a sustainable business doesn’t happen overnight, but the sooner you start, the sooner you'll be able to reap the benefits.

Your future employees are looking for employers that lead and have an impact on issues that matter to them, like sustainability and inclusivity. And it’s not just future employees – your current team, your customers and your suppliers will be expecting this too.

Smaller businesses are agile and can move quickly to adapt to emerging trends, which means that businesses can reap plenty of commercial benefits by running a sustainable business.

And for all of the above, always remember that you are a part of an engaged and generous community of leaders and businesses in Buckinghamshire who are willing to collaborate.

And what a business community!

There are over 30,000 businesses in Buckinghamshire that spend every day helping the British economy to grow. 

Each job created in the county has a value of at least £26,000 to the economy. Buckinghamshire taxpayers generate £240 billion a year for the UK treasury. 

Each job created by our business community helps the residents of Buckinghamshire look after themselves and their families, significantly improves health outcomes and reduces the burden on the welfare state. 

Our businesses matter. That’s why in Buckinghamshire, we work hard to nurture our business community.

So…what do you need help with?

Our whole team is here to support every single business in Buckinghamshire:

Looking for work and meeting spaces across the county?

There is a lot of physical office space available when you know where to look.

Our Business Hubs are available to book online and businesses across the county have listed their work and meeting spaces in our online Meet in Bucks directory.

Want to increase sustainability, lower energy bills and reach Net Zero?

Join our Collaboration Circle and share ideas and inspiration on the road to Net Zero.

Get involved with the Buckinghamshire EV Project and learn how your business can benefit from an electric vehicle.

Get a grant of up to £6,750 from Low Carbon Workspaces to implement energy-saving measures in your business.

Want to share experiences and learn from other businesses?

Join our Mentoring Programme and we will connect you with an experienced mentor who can help you develop your skills and performance.

Join Peer Ngage - our peer networking and leadership development programme for business leaders and senior managers.

Learn more about MD Ngage, where peers take time out from the day-to-day running of their business to explore new ideas, tackle challenging issues and grow as leaders.

Want to upskill your team? Or inspire the next generation?

Get in touch with the Buckinghamshire Skills Hub, which support businesses and organisations with skills development, training and offering apprenticeships, and can also connect your business with local schools and careers leaders to help you inspire young people about their future careers.

Are you in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector?

Then there’s Visit Buckinghamshire, which helps businesses in the sector promote themselves and their offer to visitors at home and abroad.

Finally, a huge thank you to all of our brilliant exhibitors who played such a big part in engaging everyone who attended. The exhibitors were:

  • Buckinghamshire EV Project
  • CSR Accreditation
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Ether Solutions
  • Goliath Mouldings
  • Growth Programme
  • Mirus / Cloud+Content
  • Mr Charger
  • Neurodiverse Partnership
  • Buckinghamshire Skills Hub
  • University of Buckingham
  • Visit Buckinghamshire and The Chilterns
  • Westcott Incubator and Accelerator Programme

Our support is for every business

Our whole team is here to support every single business in Buckinghamshire:

Business community ambassadors