Richard Vann: 8 reflections for demolition from 2022

By Richard Vann30 November 2022

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.

Richard Vann, managing director RVA Group. Richard Vann. Photo: RVA Group
1. The demolition sector readjusted to a different pace of life

We refilled 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.

2. 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 the year.

3. The risk of recession and rising costs across the board has 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 is not 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.

The impact of economic difficulties on demolition services and staff 

4. The impact of economic difficulties on demolition services and staff 

Economic difficulties can 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.

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.

5. Brexit presents new challenges for demolition contractors

That’s because, aside from the initial few months following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, nobody then really travelled anywhere due to lockdowns.

It has therefore certainly been a learning curve for RVA this year. We have encountered new hurdles simply to operate as we used to.

Visas, tax implications, colleagues’ locations and employment statuses have all presented additional challenges.

6. Some countries now insist on dealing only with an EU entity

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 have had to accept this is just par for the course of our international business.

7. We have opened up our thought process when it comes to recruitment

We are seeking to employ more EU residents for non-UK work, moving forward.

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.

8. There has 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 RVA celebrated its 30th anniversary, it would be easy to become complacent.

But to survive in any industry – let alone demolition – it is important to keep innovating.

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