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Difficult times can bring out the best in people.

During this pandemic, we have seen kind people helping their neighbours, brave workers risking their lives to serve the nation, selflessness, and discipline. But trouble can bring out the worst in people too.

During World War Two, there were many examples of resilience, fortitude and the famed “Blitz spirit”. However, crime also surged. Looting and racketeering were rife. Between 1939 and 1945, crime rose from 303,771 offences to 478,000, according to official figures. Where some see an opportunity to give, others see the chance to take.

It saddens me that many individuals and businesses are going to abuse the COVID-19 financial support during this pandemic. The government is making billions of pounds available to help the people and companies who are truly in need but some may see this as a free-for-all.

It was reported that Victoria Beckham, who has an estimated fortune of £335m, has decided to furlough 25 of her staff and take advantage of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You have to wonder whether she really needs to use government money to pay those wages?

Other so-called “British” companies that off-shored years ago – and pay no tax here in the UK – are asking for government bailouts. It beggars belief.

The emergency funding has been set aside to safeguard the future of this economy. It’s not lottery money. We, the taxpayer, will ultimately foot the bill.

BigChange is a young, growing company yet we have decided to shoulder the majority of the financial burden of coronavirus. We are using our own cash – carefully saved in the business – to survive, rather than accessing emergency loans from the bank. Many businesses are choosing to take out loans, even if they do not need to, or have no plans to pay the money back.

This is why I am calling on the Chancellor to think carefully about his next steps. Right now, it seems that Rishi Sunak is pressurising the banks to approve every single loan application that comes in.

There needs to be accountability. Business owners should only take money if they need it to keep paying suppliers and staff through the next few months – and only if they truly believe they stand a chance of surviving and paying it back.

The government has also turned into a venture capitalist, pledging £500m in a co-investment fund to support start-ups. A further £750m pot has been created to aid research and development activities. We should absolutely help our start-up community but is this the right way to do it?

Why not bring back the Small Firms Loan Guarantee scheme (SFLG)? This was a hugely successful initiative that allowed small businesses to access bank debt without having to provide security because the loan was backed by government. The scheme both supported entrepreneurial businesses and still made companies accountable; the government only provided 75% of the security on the loan. The government also didn’t have to become some kind of quasi-VC.

There are other straightforward ways to support businesses through this crisis. There has already been a duty and VAT deferment, subject to a financial hardship test, which is helpful. Why hasn’t the government considered a PAYE holiday? This would help many employers get through the short-term crisis, without having to apply for loans.

The scheme could be totally transparent: a three-month holiday and then the shortfall tagged on to subsequent payments. It’s madness that business owners must saddle themselves with five-year loans when the support could be easily delivered through PAYE. A scheme like this would serve everyone, while creating minimum fuss for HMRC. As it stands, everyone will be doing their own deal with the Revenue, causing huge amounts of complexity.

It is great that the government is willing to support businesses. I applaud the Chancellor’s response to this crisis. But I think there are better ways of offering support. There are wolves out there, and we need to stop them from savaging our economic future.

Michael Taylor – CEO – Contego Environmental Services: What BigChange Means to me

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate BigChange for receiving its Queens Award for Enterprise. It’s a phenomenal achievement and well deserved. BigChange makes a massive contribution to our business.

Contego started life in 2004 as a one-man-band specialising in bird control and has grown to become one of the largest national pest control businesses in the UK. BigChange has ensured our operations could keep up with that level of growth.

We’ve used BigChange for several years now, and it has transformed our business. It gives us complete visibility of our operations and allows us to manage our national workforce centrally from our base in County Durham.

I’ve always been an early adopter of digital technology and explored three or four other options before settling on BigChange. JobWatch pulls everything together. It allows us to run our business processes on a single piece of software.

The beauty of Jobwatch is that it’s customizable. We’ve created a series of dynamic processes to cover every stage of the employee journey, from induction to job worksheets and inspection documents. BigChange provides lots of support when we need it, and ensures the software does what we need it to.

BigChange has also enabled us to offer greater visibility to our customers. Using data from our worksheets, we can automatically make our customers aware of the threats and risks at their different sites.

BigChange is also central to our safety and compliance activities. Each of our people uses BigChange to complete their daily vehicle checks, which alerts our fleet manager to any problems and allows remedial work to be booked immediately.

Our risk assessments and workflows are also available on BigChange, guiding our technicians in the field and helping them complete work safely. We can see when things are done, and we’ve got access to a full audit trail.

I couldn’t recommend BigChange more highly. The technology is excellent and easy-to-use, and it has ensured that we’ve remained in control as our business has grown. It would have been much more challenging to grow at the speed we have been without BigChange.

BigChange, the mobile workforce management technology company, is delighted to announce that it has been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise, one of the highest official honours for companies in the UK.

BigChange was recognised in the 2020 Innovation category for developing JobWatch, a mobile workforce management system that connects back office staff, mobile workers and customers, enabling users to automate manual processes, reduce paper usage and facilitate collaboration on the go.

When it launched in 2013, JobWatch was delivered as a cloud-based service and sold on a per-user basis. This reduced the cost and complexity of introducing the technology and made high-end mobile workforce tools accessible to organisations of all sizes for the first time. It is now used by 45,000 mobile workers and back-office personnel at 1,300 organisations globally.

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise celebrates businesses who excel at international trade, innovation or sustainable development. BigChange, which employs 167 people, will receive its award at a Buckingham Palace reception later this year.

Martin Port, founder and CEO of BigChange, commented:

“We are delighted to win such a prestigious award. This recognises the efforts of our people who have worked so hard to develop and deliver JobWatch, as well as the customers that inspire and use it everyday to grow and transform their own industries. We have global ambitions for BigChange and this honour will open doors for us around the world.”

BigChange users on the benefits of JobWatch innovation

Daniel Long, Managing Director of Clearabee, commented:

“We’ve worked with BigChange since the early days of Clearabee, and it remains a critical pillar in our technology strategy. BigChange is integrated into all parts of our business and saves us a tremendous amount of time. What we like most about the JobWatch platform is its versatility. BigChange continues to add new features and new functionality. It is continuously innovating and adding to the system.”

Michael Taylor, CEO of Contego Environmental Services, comments:

“Contego started life in 2004 as a one-man-band specialising in bird control and has grown to become one of the largest national pest control businesses in the UK. BigChange has ensured our operations could keep up with that level of growth. We’ve used BigChange for several years now, and it has transformed our business. It gives us complete visibility of our operations and allows us to manage our national workforce centrally from our base in County Durham.”

Daniel Long – MD – Clearabee: What BigChange Means to me

Clearabee is the fastest growing waste management business in Europe and the UK’s largest clearance company. We employ 300 people across the UK and complete between 600 and 1,000 waste clearance jobs a day.

We’ve worked with BigChange since the early days of Clearabee, and it remains a critical pillar in our technology strategy. BigChange is integrated into all parts of our business and saves us a tremendous amount of time.

It provided us with a cutting edge in the early days of our business and has grown with us as we expanded.

Today, we run our business now using a combination of BigChange and our bespoke software. We make extensive use of BigChange’s API, and our developers can focus on creating other things to sit on top of the BigChange platform.

BigChange provides a solid foundation for that work. We don’t have to think about things like device management, data contracts, hosting large amounts of sensitive data, or uptime.

What we like most about the JobWatch platform is its versatility. The platform works for small and large companies alike. BigChange continues to add new features and new functionality. It is continuously innovating and adding to the system.

BigChange is a young, dynamic company, and an essential partner for Clearabee. You could say that we’ve grown up together and we are thrilled to see the success it has achieved.

On behalf of everyone here at Clearabee, congratulations to BigChange on winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. You deserve it.

15 April 2020 – Customers can sign-off work remotely or at a distance with this new feature. (more…)

The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent UK lockdown has changed our working lives completely.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this ‘new normal’. It’s easy to focus on the negative: last week, I admit that I felt a bit lost.

I’m used to roving the shop floor, looking for areas where we can make improvements. I’m a ‘face to face’ leader, and I like chatting through ideas with my team and visiting customers. It’s taken some time to adjust to web meetings and working in the virtual world.

But now that I’m in the swing of remote working, I’m starting to see some major benefits. I’m no longer working from the office, which means I’m saving an hour a day in travel time. That’s an extra five hours a week – a major bonus.

Being based at home seems to save time in so many ways, because everything you need is all in one place and there are no distractions. Even if lockdown lifts in two weeks’ time, my family will stay in isolation for 12 weeks. My son has asthma, putting him in the ‘at risk’ category, so we are taking every precaution.

I’ve found myself with more free time than I have in years and I’m determined to make the most of this opportunity. I believe that we need to constantly look for ways to improve – not just our businesses but ourselves. If you stop trying to be better, you lose your edge.

I’ve been focusing my attention on creating special projects that will ensure BigChange is even more efficient and lean when the recovery comes around. I’ve been looking at improving service levels, enhancing the way teams work together, and finding any gaps in the organisation that need filling. I’ve never had the time to look at these areas in fine detail before and it’s been a revelation.

I’ll be honest with you. At BigChange, we are expecting to see some slowdown in sales as prospective customers hunker down and wait for this uncertainty to pass. But this doesn’t mean we are sitting on our hands here. Instead, we’re investing heavily in new data warehouse architecture, moving resource into product development, and creating some new marketing initiatives to keep up a buzz about BigChange. This is a really good time to start new projects. There’s not the same amount of pressure on day-to-day operations. There is room to breathe, review, and plan.

I’ve spent many years building businesses and I’ve learned there is more than one kind of return on investment. Changes we make now could have a significant impact on the success of BigChange in the future, whether it’s brand trust, customer loyalty or employee morale.

This is also the perfect time to invest in your customers, your community and the UK business ecosystem. I have more time to spend helping others, be that through business mentoring, support for customers who want to understand BigChange’s technology better, or advice for organisations who want an entrepreneur’s take on the challenges they face.

If this sounds like you, drop me a line. I’ll do everything I can to help. I aim to support as many people and organisations as I can during this lockdown – and hopefully beyond.

This is the time to review your working day and make permanent changes. It’s a time to ditch the unhelpful habits that are holding you and your business back. This is a challenging time but it’s not all doom and gloom. Seize the opportunity.

BigChange

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