What will a no-deal Brexit mean for businesses in the tech sector?

by Alex Tebbs, Founder of VIA Does anyone know what is going to happen come the final Brexit deadline at the end of March? Although not currently legally...

by Alex Tebbs, Founder of VIA

Does anyone know what is going to happen come the final Brexit deadline at the end of March? Although not currently legally binding, MPs have now voted to try to prevent a no-deal Brexit after passing an amendment which rejects the UK exiting the EU without an official ‘Withdrawal Agreement’. Despite this, sceptics are still unsure whether there’s going to be any formal plan in place, in time for next month; will the government delay or will a deal be struck? Either way, many businesses are already noticing implications from this level of uncertainty.

In this article, unified communications specialist Alex Tebbs, Founder of VIA, discusses his thoughts on the various business repercussions of a no-deal Brexit, particularly across the tech sector.

Within the tech sector in particular, businesses are used to being agile and innovative, and various changes that crop up usually pose opportunities as well as challenges. In this way, companies will no doubt learn to adapt to Brexit and will work around any new legislation in a way that is suitable to their business. After all, isn’t that what business has been doing for decades?

What can we can expect moving forward after the deal, or indeed no-deal, has taken place? Alex offers some practical tips on what business leaders can do to mitigate any risks from these changes.

The situation

As the potential of a no-deal Brexit looms, the economic uncertainty is throwing up interesting questions for many businesses in the UK and across Europe.  Unfortunately, across certain industries, these changes and challenges are driving jobs and investment away from the UK in some cases. There are already many plans in place to try and mitigate any potential issues this may cause, such as the European Commission which has already begun implementing a “no-deal” Contingency Action Plan in order to prepare for a worst-case scenario. In the event of a no-deal, the public, consumers, businesses and public organisations will have to respond immediately and in appropriate ways to changes as a result of leaving the EU.

What happens next?

So, what can we expect moving forward? Some sectors will inevitably be more affected more than others, but we’re yet to know which will benefit and which will face challenges. From a consumer perspective, people have mixed feelings. According to reports, some British made products may be subject to new certification meaning businesses could place additional tariffs on goods imported from the EU, which making products more expensive. On the flip side, additional certification might mean products are subject to further checks and scrutiny, meaning better quality across the board. There are many possibilities.

How this will look for the tech sector

But what about tech? Due to the industry’s flexible nature, the tech sector has long had a name for being adaptable. However, as technological innovation has made its way into every industry, there will be knock-on effects for a variety of business areas.

One thing we need to really consider is talent. The tech sector, in particular, uses a huge amount of skilled European workers as part of its task force. If there is any change to freedom of movement, such as if it is halted or restricted, this will not only affect current skilled European workers in the UK, but it will also affect the acquisition of new talent. It may become intrinsically more difficult to arrange Visas and work permits for European workers to come over to the UK and vice versa. This means that there may be talent shortages within the UK across the board, as it will no longer be viewed as a preferred destination of choice for many Europeans. Currently, many workers travel to the UK without employment and look to join the tech industry while they are here.

Potential solutions

We already know that the rise in flexible working will help the tech sector address these issues. With remote working, European workers will still be able to be based in their home countries but can work for UK based companies without the need for lengthy Visa/work permit applications. Using unified communications (UC), remotes workers will be able to communicate seamlessly with the UK office while still feeling they are connected to the team. It is important companies enable the telephony, instant messaging and video conference tools that will enable teams to seamless to communicate across various geographical locations.

Additionally, shifting away from a more rigid full-time employee structure could aid in this transition. There could be a rise in contract and freelance positions, which will be enabled by UC tools.

When it comes to talent, as more European workers will be based in the EU, there will be a rise in the “virtual” interviews, where video calls will take the place of face-to-face interviews. We’re at a point in technology today where this can be carried out seamlessly, as video calls feel almost as if that person is in the room. After an initial, relatively cheap and easy remote interview the company can then decide whether to progress the interview through face-to-face meetings.

What’s next?

One thing is for certain if there is one industry that is going to be able to adapt it is the technology industry. Whatever the outcome, an orderly transition is in the best interests for everyone, businesses and consumers from all sides.

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