Brexit is virtually upon us after what seems like forever. The UK officially leaves the EU at the end of this month (23.00 GMT on Friday 31 January to be precise) – so only 2 weeks to go! How will this affect us in the short and long term? What will the overall effect be on small businesses and Virtual Assistants?
It’s impossible to predict what the long-term impact of Britain leaving the EU will be and only time will tell what the overall outcome is. However, not everything has to be negative – a disaster for one organisation or person can be a great opportunity for another.
Thankfully it is highly unlikely that anything will change all in one day, but we need to be aware of the long, slow change that might make very little difference for some businesses but will make a lot of work for others. It is important to recognise that there are virtually no businesses in the UK that won’t be affected by Brexit – even if the effects are small and subtle. It is therefore vital to keep fully informed of potential changes you or your business might need to make if the rules change.
Many business owners worry about EU Laws and Legal Contracts. But information from the government says that no laws will change significantly and The European Union (Withdrawal) Act aims to incorporate EU laws into UK law. The UK government adopted the GDPR into national law as part of the Data Protection Act 2018, so once the UK leaves the EU, the same protections and requirements will apply – so in other words, how your business handles personal data won’t change if you have correctly implemented GDPR.
Additionally, most legal contracts will be governed under the law of England and Wales or Scotland – although certain parts of a contract might refer to European Law and will, therefore, need checking.
Many UK service-based businesses with no direct reliance on EU sources and classified as serving only domestic customers (for example a UK marketing agency) might assume that Brexit will not affect them. However, the business might hold data on EU citizens or rely on EU citizens for staffing – not just front-line staff but also support and ancillary roles. It is, therefore, necessary to carefully consider how Brexit will apply to your business in broader terms – as most UK businesses will at least serve a client base that will be affected by Brexit changes.
What will the impact be on the Virtual Assistant industry?
What is most likely to affect Virtual Assistants is the lack of certainty in the UK economy, rather than Brexit itself. People are far less likely to launch new businesses or products and are less likely to hire additional support staff during a period of uncertainty.
On the other hand, VAs often pick up more work when companies are looking to downsize their employee liabilities - if businesses aren’t looking to employ permanent staff then they may need more freelance ad-hoc work. VAs also offer more flexibility than employees and are able to quickly adapt to new circumstances.
Outsourcing jobs to a Virtual Assistant can allow business owners to focus on the more important aspects of running their business and concentrate on the bigger picture – especially against an uncertain economic background.
A Virtual Assistant can also ensure you’re prepared to get through Brexit and the likely period of adaptation by supporting your current business development plan or helping with new opportunities. More businesses may decide to make new business connections outside of Europe and a VA can assist with the promotion and marketing efforts involved in this.
Overall this could be an excellent opportunity for the VA industry; by offering a solution to the ‘Brexit woes’ of many businesses with an agile, innovative approach to business needs.
Brexit does not have to all be doom and gloom – yes, there are uncertainties for all of us, but if we keep ourselves informed and are willing to adapt and make changes during this period of uncertainty, we might look back and wonder why we worried so much….