Many doctors’ businesses are now adapting their workspace to the new world, says Julia Burn. How about you?
Pandemic-induced financial pressures have led many businesses to make some big changes.
They have adapted their workspaces, adjusting the way they work with their clients and changed how they sell products to their customers.
These inflicted changes had to be implemented at speed with little or no time for planning – and they have affected medical practices as businesses as well as the clients they individually serve.
Now it has become the norm for businesses to have flexible working hours and arrangements to enable people to work in the office as well as the home.
Doctors’ businesses have been able to review their office and clinic space requirements and, where applicable, some have reduced spaces by hot-desking.
Managing time differently
In many cases, this may have required additional administrative resources to manage the flow of people and they have utilised bespoke software to enable people to book their desk and equipment requirements to allow this to work.
This has meant some consultants and employees are managing their time differently. And, for many, this has resulted in office/clinic time becoming more focused on appointments/clinics and collaborative working.
Report-writing and admin work is now often being performed from home rather than the office.
This has then allowed for face-to-face meetings and appointments to be organised for the days that people are in the office/clinic.
Some businesses have reported that productivity has increased as commuting time has been cut when staff are working from home and also time savings have been created by utilising online meetings.
But others have struggled with the restrictions and have found it almost impossible to continue to run their businesses as they once were.
Many businesses have expressed concerns over training and on-the-job learning, as they feel that this has been lost with the lack of face-to-face working.
On the plus side, however, businesses can save on very expensive rental costs by reducing the amount of time needing to be ‘on site’, with the possibility of sharing clinic space and therefore cost with other professionals.
Some clinics may reconsider their options where they own a property. Owning a property is a long-term investment and may be right for your firm if the geographical situation of your business is important to the business itself – for instance, the clinic is known by its name and that is associated to the address of the clinic.
But locking into a property can be very restrictive. You often get a lot more flexibility with renting space and can downscale or upscale as and when required depending on client demand.
Remember that the Government still has some useful tax incentives in place; for example, a limited company can utilise super-deduction for corporation tax for money spent on plant and machines, fixtures and fittings, and computers.
The available deduction allows limited companies to deduct £1.30 for every £1 spent against their profits chargeable to corporation tax, therefore offering some relief against the annual corporation tax liability. To use this super-deduction, the money needs to be spent by March 2023.
Partnerships and sole traders cannot use the super-deduction, unfortunately, but can claim an annual investment allowance of £1m, which allows 100% deduction from taxable profits on eligible capital expenditure in that tax year. This relief is available until March 2023 when the limit reduces back to £200,000.
Many people wonder whether we will go back to where we were before the pandemic or whether there has been a permanent change to how people work.
I think there will always be an element of flexibility/smarter working, including some virtual appointments, where appropriate, as well as face-to-face ones.
And people will become smarter about the tasks that they perform which need to be face to face as well as those tasks that can be performed outside of the office environment.
Key issues to consider when changing the way you work are:
Dedicated well spaces;
Sufficient security for confidential online meetings;
Ability to encourage training and collective learning experiences.
The element of learning on the job must not be lost with staff working from home and the issues above will need addressing to continue to maintain a happy, focused and motivated workforce.
Julia Burn (right) is a director at Blick Rothenberg and part of the team that advises medical practitioners