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The business trends to watch in 2018

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Written by: Hannah Baker | Posted 02 January 2018 12:41

The business trends to watch in 2018

As many companies resume work after the Christmas break, business leaders across the South West will be looking ahead to the next 12 months. But what's in store for the business community?

We spoke to a number of South West business leaders about the trends to watch in 2018...


The Institute of Directors (IoD) anticipates 2018 will involve some serious soul searching from government as the institute tries to get to the core of what Brexit will mean for businesses.

Nick Sturge, regional director of IoD South West, said: “We expect government-to-business engagement to ramp up in the New Year. Many are feeling a renewed sense of optimism in the talks that has not been seen since Theresa May’s Florence speech in September last year.

“But while business leaders welcome the progress made, we need to be realistic that things will only get more difficult from here unless some fundamental questions are answered for the business community, ranging from customs processes to transition arrangements to work permits.

“We should, however, expect to see low attention given to other issues as preparation for Brexit becomes all-consuming for government officers.”

Nick Sturge IoD

Nick Sturge is regional director of IoD South West

Flexible working

“With continued advances in technology, it is becoming less and less necessary for teams of people to work in the same building in order to produce profitable outputs,” said Tamsen Garrie, director of culture at health and wellness company Inspired to Change.

“I see remote working increasing in 2018 as businesses embrace and better utilise some of the collaborative work platforms we’ve seen come into the market this year.”

Lizzie Penny, who lives in Redland and is co-founder of The Hoxby Collective – a community of individuals working flexibly – agrees.

She said: “The concept of the nine to five is 200 years old and do offices really need to work these hours?

“I think 2018 will see a continuing trend for flexible and home-based working.

“Technology in the workplace will allow for remote teams to work together seamlessly.

“Part time does not mean poor output. If you work part time your work can be of the highest quality. The number of hours you spend at your desk does not relate to the quality of your output.”

Lizzie Penny

Lizzie Penny is co-founder of the Hoxby Collective

The sharing economy  

NESTA has estimated that 25 per cent of UK adults share online in one way or another.

A recent study conducted by PwC indicates that Britain has emerged as a major hub for the sharing economy, which is worth around £500 million and is predicted to rise to £9 billion by 2025.

Nick explained: “We’re seeing it increasingly in sectors such as food with food-sharing app Olio; transport with Uber, JustPark and Yo Bikes; and accommodation, with AirBnB.

“The IoD believes that there are other sectors, such as healthcare and financial services, that won't be far behind.”

Tamsen Garrie

Tamsen Garrie is director of culture at Inspired to Change

Gender equality

2018 marks 100 years since women were given the right to vote. Tamsen believes the next 12 months will see many women at the “front of the news”.

She said: “With the 100-year anniversary of women winning the right to vote I see continued focus throughout this coming year on the issues surrounding gender equality, driven by both men and women as the benefits for all are increasingly recognised.”

Greater awareness of cyber security 

“Britain is being targeted by as many as 1,000 cyber-attacks every hour, with approximately one in five UK citizens having had their online accounts hacked,” said Nick.

“As we increasingly move our lives online, businesses of all sizes will have to invest significantly in their IT infrastructure to protect their business.  

“Those that don’t make it a boardroom priority rather than just an IT function will pay the price.

“The South West benefits from significant expertise in cyber security and directors should look locally for assistance.”

Video content

“Video content will become even more important for businesses to use and connect with customers especially now that LinkedIn has joined Facebook and other social media channels offering this service,” said Bristol-based executive coach Caroline Arnold.

“The companies that can offer videos that are fun, short and more engaging such as doing live Q&A sessions, will see an increase in engagement.”

Caroline Arnold

Caroline Arnold, Bristol-based executive coach

Rise in older workers and entrepreneurs

Almost 15 per cent of men and eight per cent of women over the age of 65 are currently in employment, and the number of over-65s in work has almost doubled over the past 10 years.

“Rising life expectancy means many workers are delaying their retirement, either because they can't afford to or they feel they still have something to offer to the business economy, added Nick.

“Expect to see a growth too in older entrepreneurs – already some IoD members are on their third or even fourth careers.”


Another business trend that is set to grow, predicts Caroline, is wellbeing at work 

She added: “Companies want to look after their staff and an increasing number will be offering wellbeing or mental-health awareness training to ensure employees stay healthy and productive.”

Digital marketing

Ross Colins of Fuel Communications says the rise of digital marketing will "undoubtedly" continue as organisations and their agencies invest for growth for 2018.

He said: "Most businesses have established campaigns in place and are willing to invest further in new technology, creativity and platforms funded by success from previous years."

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