In late September, the UK was hit by some of the worst flooding in recent memory. We were badly affected in the North East, as main roads were flooded and multi-storey buildings teetered on the brink of collapse. In the Newcastle office, our working week was disrupted as travel chaos prevented many of our clients and our candidates from making it to work.
Luckily our team all made it into the office, but business productivity across the region must have suffered as a result of staff getting stuck in traffic.
It occurred to me how vulnerable our economy is to the elements if our infrastructure and transport systems cave in at the first sign of heavy rain. Shouldn't we (in a country characterised by terrible weather) be better equipped to deal with the trappings of a cold and wet climate? It concerns me that as we approach the winter months, snow and ice might hinder our country's economic recovery.
Historically, the Christmas countdown is a very important period for the economy, particularly retail. Last year, PwC reported that retail sales - a good indication of consumer confidence - had been hampered by bad weather during Q4.
While we are in the midst of a crucial economic recovery period, it seems absurd not to invest in improving our contingency plans for bad weather. We have seen first-hand the extent to which adverse weather conditions can be detrimental to economic growth, so why are we ignoring the obvious? Many other nations, for example Ukraine and Germany, are much better equipped to deal with cold weather than the UK.
Perhaps our government needs to take heed of our European counterparts and invest to improve the quality of transport systems and flood defences. It is worth considering that an initial investment would pay for itself in years to come if we could avoid the economic slow-down associated with wet, wintry weather.
If we continue to underestimate the power of Mother Nature we, and our businesses, may struggle to keep our heads above water...