When I was at business school back in the nineties, one of the books that inspired me most was Tom Peters’ Thriving on Chaos. The author said people and businesses that thrive in chaotic environments are the ones that succeed.
But even he could not have predicted what disorder the UK’s vote for Brexit and Trump being elected president of the US would bring.
In a world that is constantly changing, it’s the individuals who embrace change and adapt quickly who thrive.
This philosophy has stuck with me throughout my career and is one of the reasons why my company Citibase has been able to deal with the ever-growing demand from SMEs for affordable, flexible workspace.
This week has been Global Entrepreneurship Week, marking entrepreneurship success in more than 160 countries. I hope this celebration of creativity and ingenuity will help to inspire a new generation of innovators, creating leaders who drive economic growth in their regions and expand jobs and prosperity.
These cost-conscious entrepreneurs and SMEs work across a huge variety of sectors and we are helping to connect them with building owners who are looking to make profit from properties which are either unoccupied, or not achieving the value expected.
Many small and institutional landlords are realising that converting their buildings to flexible, serviced office space can provide positive cashflow and a risk-free alternative to outdated long contracts for traditional occupiers.
Earlier this month we surveyed our customers across the UK about the impact of Brexit on their businesses and 46% said they had a positive outlook for their business compared with 20% who believed prospects were negative and 34% who did not know.
Although it is promising that nearly half our customers are optimistic about their businesses’ futures, these figures demonstrate that opinion is split – because no one knows what is going on. The courts and the government can’t agree and the papers are squabbling over the meaning of Article 50. It’s a mess.
And now we have the most unorthodox and unpredictable incoming US president the world has seen. Businesses – more than ever – will need to be flexible to manoeuvre in a rapidly changing market. No one knows where this road is leading. No state has left the EU before and the rules on Article 50 are ambiguous to say the least.
With all this uncertainty, why would a business want to sign an office contract for the long term? What we will see is businesses craving agility to help manage risk and costs, allowing them to scale up and down more easily.
Smart landlords have recognised this change and we are seeing many building owners diversifying and de-risking their portfolios by working with flexible property managers like Citibase.
Trump has divided world opinion. He has been described by some as a hero and by others as a clown in the US election pantomime – but the fact is he will be in the White House in January and there is nothing funny about the ripple effect of uncertainty.
“The world of work has changed forever” has been my mantra for some time and it is now more pertinent than ever.
“Attitudes and office requirements are changing week by week and, despite pessimists predicting the end of the world as we know it, SMEs have been quick to respond and find solutions to their business needs following the Brexit vote and shock of the US election.
The combination of Brexit and Trump has created the most uncertain atmosphere in world markets for a generation and only businesses that dare to embrace the chaos will truly succeed.