Trends to keep up with in the year ahead

There’s always a tangible sense of optimism at the beginning of a new year: fresh opportunities, challenges and a few surprises along the way. In 2023 we were able to support more customers than ever before as their PPE and workwear requirements evolved to meet a changing landscape – and we’re looking forward to continuing that journey with them into 2024. Here are some trends to keep across in the coming months:

Economy

Despite hopes of more benign conditions next year, after the volatility of the last three years, economists are warning of challenges ahead. In its annual business report NatWest predicts “low and slow growth” and points out ongoing macro trends such as geopolitical tensions and the dramatic reshaping of global supply chains as contributing factors to the challenges upcoming in 2024.

The Bank of England expects inflation to continue to fall in 2024, but more gradually than in 2023 due to lower energy prices and reduced inflation on consumer goods and food. Correspondingly, interest rates could begin to drop off slightly from mid-year, potentially dropping down a full percentage point from the rate of 5.25% held at the end of 2023. This will be welcome news to both personal and business borrowers.

Construction

2023 was a bumpy year for construction but Construction Management is approaching 2024 with cautious optimism. Materials prices have been falling, as have shipping costs and the cost of natural gas imports. It also points out the potential for more widespread use of data and digital tools across projects to help track trends, identify problems early and target investment in the most productive way.

In terms of housebuilding, there were just under 235,000 ‘net additional dwellings’ completed in 2022-23 with construction project data analysts Glenigan predicting growth across the private and social housing sectors in the year ahead.

Aviation

The aviation industry may have hit the headlines for Virgin Atlantic’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight from London to New York, but just as notable were the figures from the IATA outlining record passenger numbers and revenues projected for 2024. Equivalent growth in the ground handling sector is not guaranteed, however, with analysts pointing out that staff retention and training will be key to keep pace and build further structural resilience.

Politics

As NatWest points out, 2024 is the year of the ballot box – with more than 40 national elections taking place, including the UK, the US and India. But satisfaction with democracy is low, according to an Ipsos survey, with only half (53%) of people in the UK saying they can influence things by voting. However, although the two major political parties diverge on several issues, the UK’s entrenched fiscal situation is likely to restrict any major spending.

The most recent Autumn Statement saw many business-related policies and tax changes announced, some of which take effect in January and others in April. Whenever the election is called, economic policy and industrial strategy will feature heavily on the campaign trail for both parties.

Climate and sustainability

Climate pledges and commitments to net zero will also be on the political agenda as the rollout from COP28 continues in 2024. At a macro level, Barclays Research outlines the sheer extent of investment it will take to make the green transition work. And more than half of investors plan to increase their ESG-orientated investments in 2024, according to a survey from deVere Group.

At the individual business level, firms will be under more scrutiny than ever when it comes to fulfilling pledges around net zero, sustainability and building a circular economy. Many organisations will likely choose to further embed efforts within a wider ESG framework, despite criticism that transparency and reporting doesn’t always keep up with some of the rhetoric.

As greenly points out businesses that fail to acknowledge the importance of ESG trends could face consequences such as missing out on attracting and retaining the best talent or losing out on potential commercial partnerships.

Wellbeing and hybrid working

As well as fuelling debate around regulation and ethics, technological advancements are also sculpting a new landscape for employee wellbeing, according to Corporate Wellness magazine. It claims digital health platforms, wearable technology and AI-driven solutions will become central components of wellness programs.

This tallies with the findings of the Westfield Health 2024 wellbeing trends report which also highlights what it terms the ‘wellness craze’ conveyor belt of consumer trends as well as the issue of loneliness at work – estimated to cost UK employers £2.5bn a year. In terms of hybrid working, it references the KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook survey that revealed a majority of UK CEOs (63%) predict a full return to in-office working by 2026.

But this will need to be navigated carefully. As HubStar points out, giving teams the autonomy to decide their own schedules might be a productive way forward – whilst also developing and nurturing the connection and collaboration required for success. For the facilities management sector this means more uncertainty as organisations recalibrate the ways in which they determine the office space they need.

Whatever 2024 may bring, we understand that the safety and wellbeing of your employees will always be your number one priority. The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or sales@contegosafety.co.uk to discuss your requirements.

Published on 4 January 2024

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