In his most recent column for Demolition & Recycling International, Richard Vann reflected on demolition in 2022. If you missed the article, catch it in full, here…
Another 12 months flew by seemingly faster than ever in 2022. I wonder why that was…
Some would argue it was because this was our first (almost) full ‘normal’ year post-Covid restrictions. We readjusted once again to a different pace of life – re-filling our personal time with social activities, continually navigating the challenges and opportunities that came with colleagues working from anywhere, and doing our best to satisfy mounting demands from customers who felt as though their worlds had been placed on hold since 2020.
I think it’s safe to say we all wanted to make an impact in 2022, whether that was to capitalise on any uplift in success encountered during the pandemic or begin a recovery following a difficult trading period. So, in general, businesses and their employees worked hard to make the year count. As a result, weeks quickly turned into months, and before we knew it, the year was out.
I bet a lot of people haven’t therefore found the time to reflect properly on 2022.
The economic climate
Outside of the demolition industry, and based on the economic climate generally, the ever-looming risk of recession and rising costs across the board, hit organisations and individuals hard. Considerate employers are continuing to do what they can to financially support colleagues in tackling the cost-of-living crisis – important particularly in markets where competition for talent is high – but this isn’t always easy if company revenues don’t increase in-line. From a commercial resilience point of view, well-intentioned pay rises have depleted some organisations’ reserves, so I hope they are ‘rewarded’ for their kindness with packed order books in 2023.
It’s not unusual for economic difficulties to have a marked emotional and psychological impact on people too. And in an industry such as demolition – where safety is paramount – nobody can afford for personnel to be distracted. The world of work can be motivationally difficult, given the financial backdrop many people are experiencing, so I don’t think there’s ever been a greater time to pay attention to – and speak openly about – wellbeing. Even the simplest gestures of support go a long way.
2022 was also the first time organisations have probably truly felt the real effects of Brexit. That’s because, aside from the initial few months following the UK’s EU departure, nobody then really travelled anywhere due to lockdowns.
It’s therefore certainly been a learning curve for RVA this year, as we’ve encountered new hurdles simply to operate as we used to. Visas, tax implications, plus colleagues’ locations and employment statuses, have all presented additional challenges. Some countries now insist on dealing only with an EU entity, so consequently, we have fully established a new company – RVA Europe, with all its functionality overseas. We didn’t take this decision lightly, as additional payroll management, professional fees and local compliance requirements soon add tens of thousands of pounds to operating costs. But we are not a UK-only firm, so we’ve had to accept this is just par for the course of our international business.
It’s opened up our thought process when it comes to recruitment too, and we are seeking to employ more EU residents for non-UK work, moving forwards.
All of the rising costs described here affect organisations’ competitiveness. RVA doesn’t typically win work on the basis of price – as the consultancy has always delivered on quality – however, we have still worked hard to expand our services to deliver more added value.
We’ve augmented our front-end engineering offering, for example, which now sees us involved in earlier decommissioning discussions. This means we can support clients to better understand the remaining useful life of their assets and the costings associated with this lifespan, before they even think about the decommissioning works that will follow. Our virtual decommissioning services – introduced during the pandemic – have also proven popular as 2022 unfolded, not least because people are now comfortable with remote meetings, and carbon footprint reduction is becoming a widespread priority.
On the flipside, there’s been a welcome resurgence in face-to-face meetings, where relevant. I think we missed this type of interaction during lockdown, and when we regained the freedom to choose how we conduct our business, we were reminded of the benefits of physical interaction in certain circumstances.
Considering 2022 was the year we celebrated our 30th anniversary, it would be easy to become complacent. But to survive in any industry – let alone demolition – it’s important to keep innovating.
That’s one of the reasons we launched a new website in 2022, with a more intuitive and user-friendly navigation, detailed content, and generally more informative approach for our visitors. Increasingly complex structures now need to come down, across the world, and people are approaching the industry with ever-more diverse requirements. If we can play a part in supporting them to take on their projects safely, cost-effectively, and with maximum respect for the environment, then we’re doing our job.