New flexible working regulations now in force.

From 6 April 2024, new flexible working regulations were implemented granting employees the ability to request flexible work arrangements from the very first day of their employment.

Flexible working has become increasingly prevalent in today’s work environment, offering a range of benefits for both employees and employers. However, it can also present certain challenges that both parties should consider.

Here’s a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of flexible working arrangements.

Benefits of Flexible Working

For Employers:

  1. Attract and retain talent: Flexible working is an attractive perk for prospective employees and can help retain existing staff by meeting their work-life balance needs.
  2. Reduced overheads: With more employees working remotely, there’s potential to reduce office space and associated costs.
  3. Increased productivity and efficiency: Flexible work schedules can lead to a more motivated workforce, resulting in higher productivity and efficiency.
  4. Broader Geographical or Global Talent Pool: Flexible and remote working arrangements allow employers to tap into a wider geographical footprint when recruiting, or even a global talent pool, not restricted by geographical boundaries.

An example of this is with a client in the Southwest UK, who historically struggled to recruit experienced talent locally partly as a result of Covid. However, by broadening the geographical area during recruitment we were able to find the right people quickly, working in a hybrid or remote capacity.

For Employees:

  1. Improved work-life balance: Flexible working allows employees to manage their work schedules around personal commitments, leading to a healthier balance between professional and personal life.
  2. Reduced commuting stress: The ability to work from home or adjust work hours can significantly reduce the time and stress associated with commuting.
  3. Increased productivity: Many find that flexible working environments allow for more focused work time with fewer distractions, leading to higher productivity.
  4. Enhanced job satisfaction: The autonomy over one’s work schedule can increase job satisfaction, morale, and commitment to the company.
Disadvantages of Flexible Working

For Employees:

  1. Work-Life boundaries: The blurring of boundaries between work and personal life can sometimes lead to working longer hours and burnout.
  2. Isolation: Working remotely can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from the team and company culture.
  3. Over-reliance on technology: Remote work requires dependence on technology, which can be frustrating during technical issues or failures.

For Employers:

  1. Management challenges: Managing a flexible workforce requires different strategies, including tracking productivity and performance without micromanaging.
  2. Communication barriers: Ensuring effective communication can be more challenging with a dispersed workforce, potentially leading to misunderstandings or delays.
  3. Security risks: Increased remote work can expose companies to higher risks of data breaches and cybersecurity threats if proper measures are not in place.
  4. Cultural cohesion: Maintaining a strong and unified company culture can be more difficult when employees are working various schedules and from different locations.

While flexible working arrangements offer numerous benefits, including improved work-life balance, reduced commuting stress, and the ability to attract talent, they also come with challenges such as maintaining work-life boundaries, managing remote teams, and ensuring data security.

Both employers and employees must work together to find a balance that maximises the advantages while minimising the disadvantages. It’s important that the strategy defined is sustainable and managed for the long term rather than a short-term fix, which will lead to future problems.

This may involve clear communication, setting boundaries, and investing in technology and security measures to support a flexible working environment.

Wider reading about the new flexible working environment: –

People Management: The New Flexible Working Law – an employer’s guide  

Personnel Today: Flexible Working Legislation Changes


Navigating the Tracks 

Key business and commercial factors impacting UK rail industry procurement in 2024 and beyond.

As the backbone of the UK’s transportation infrastructure, the rail sector is under increasing pressure to innovate, adapt, and deliver amidst a landscape of changing regulations, environmental considerations, and technological advancements. This means the UK rail industry is faced with evolving business and commercial factors that are reshaping future procurement strategies. 

Here are just some of the critical factors and trends influencing procurement within the UK’s rail industry with insights into the challenges and opportunities that might lie ahead. 

Economic Pressures  

The current economic landscape continues to exert pressure on the rail industry, with funding challenges at the forefront. Public funding is under scrutiny and in turn drives the need for ever more efficient and cost-effective procurement practices. Rail operators and infrastructure managers are seeking innovative ways to stretch budgets further, prioritising value for money in procurement decisions without compromising on quality or safety. 

Skilled Workforce and Labour Market Dynamics 

The availability of a skilled workforce is a critical factor for the rail industry, influencing procurement decisions related to training, development, and the sourcing of services. With the sector facing a skills gap, particularly in specialist areas such as digital rail technology and sustainable engineering, there is a growing emphasis on investing in skills development and attracting talent through procurement and partnership strategies. 

The competition for procurement talent in the rail industry has intensified, as other major UK Net Zero infrastructure projects are also vying for similar expertise.  

Regulatory Changes and Compliance 

Changes to regulation remain a constant factor, influencing procurement strategies significantly. Compliance with UK and Utility Regulators requires a careful balance between meeting legal obligations and pursuing operational efficiencies. The focus on safety standards, environmental regulations, and labour laws requires a procurement approach that prioritises compliance while seeking flexible solutions to adapt to regulatory shifts. 

Sustainability and Environmental Goals 

Sustainability is a trend that transcends industries, and the UK rail sector is no exception. The push towards net-zero emissions and the adoption of greener technologies are shaping procurement decisions, with a growing demand for environmentally friendly materials, energy-efficient technologies, and sustainable services. Rail companies are investing in electrification, renewable energy sources, and innovative materials to reduce their environmental footprint, driven by both regulatory mandates and corporate social responsibility commitments. 

Technological Advancements and Digitisation 

The digital transformation of the rail industry impacts procurement in multiple ways. From the adoption of digital technologies to the integration of IoT devices for better asset management, technology is at the heart of the industry’s future. Procurement strategies are increasingly focused on sourcing innovative technologies that enhance operational efficiency, improve passenger experience, and ensure the safety and reliability of rail services. Additionally, e-procurement platforms and digital tools are streamlining procurement processes, enabling better data analysis and decision-making. 

Supply Chain Resilience and Risk Management 

Recent global disruptions have highlighted the vital need for supply chain resilience. The UK rail industry, with its complex and interconnected supply chains, is prioritising risk management and diversification of suppliers. Procurement is increasingly strategic, with a focus on building long-term partnerships, enhancing supply chain visibility, and developing contingency plans to mitigate disruptions, whether from geopolitical tensions, pandemics, or natural disasters. 

Innovation and Collaboration 

Innovation through collaboration is becoming a hallmark of procurement in the rail industry. Rail operators, infrastructure providers, and suppliers are increasingly working together in joint ventures and partnerships to co-develop solutions to industry challenges. This collaborative approach extends to engaging with academia, tech startups, and cross-industry partners to foster innovation, particularly in areas like sustainable materials, digital infrastructure and automation. 

In 2024 and beyond, the UK rail industry’s procurement landscape is set to continue evolving in response to these business and commercial factors. The journey towards a more sustainable, efficient, and resilient rail network is paved with challenges, but also abundant with opportunities for innovation and transformation. 

The rail sector’s ability to navigate these trends will be crucial in determining its future success and its role in shaping the UK’s transportation infrastructure. By embracing change, focusing on sustainability, and leveraging technology, the industry can ensure it remains on track to meet the demands of tomorrow’s passengers and the broader societal goals we aspire to achieve. 

Read more about  

Rail Safety and Standards Board: Supporting a net zero economy 

Railway Technology: Climate Change and the UK rail industry  


Exploring the Future: Key Supply Chain Trends

In the complex web of global commerce, supply chains play a pivotal role, acting as the backbone that supports the flow of goods and services across the world. Recent years have stressed their importance, with challenges ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to geopolitical tensions revealing the need for agility, resilience and innovation within this sector.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the supply chain landscape is evolving at pace, driven by technological advances and shifting market demands.

This article delves into some of the key trends shaping the future of supply chains, offering some insights into how businesses can navigate these changes.

Digital Transformation and Technology Integration

At the forefront of supply chain evolution is digital transformation, a shift that’s fundamentally altering how supply chains operate. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and predictive analytics are being integrated at an unprecedented rate.

For instance, IoT devices enable real-time tracking of goods, enhancing visibility and efficiency, while AI and predictive analytics are being used to forecast demand and optimise inventory management. Blockchain technology promises a new level of transparency and security in transactions if applied correctly.

Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

Sustainability has transitioned from a buzzword to a business imperative. Consumers and regulators alike are demanding more environmentally friendly and ethically sourced products, pushing companies to reconsider their supply chain practices and the suppliers they partner with.

Strategies such as adopting circular economy principles and implementing zero-waste policies are gaining traction. For example, Adidas has made strides with its commitment to only use recycled polyester in its products by 2024, highlighting how companies are leading by example in sustainable practices.

Supply Chain Resilience and Risk Management

The recent global disruptions such as the 2021 Suez Canal container ship blockage, have taught valuable lessons about the importance of supply chain resilience. Businesses are now focusing on diversifying their supplier base and improving inventory management to withstand future shocks.

Digital tools and technologies play a crucial role in risk assessment and management, offering companies better ways to predict and mitigate potential disruptions. This trend towards resilience is not just about surviving the next crisis but thriving in the face of it.

The Rise of E-Commerce and Omnichannel Fulfilment

The growth of e-commerce has transformed consumer expectations, leading to a surge in demand for omnichannel fulfilment solutions. This has introduced new challenges in supply chain management, from ensuring seamless integration of online and offline experiences to managing logistics for rapid home deliveries. Companies are increasingly leveraging data analytics and automation to streamline their omnichannel strategies, ensuring that they can meet customers where they are, whether in-store or online.

Collaboration and Transparency across the Supply Chain

The complexity of modern supply chains requires unprecedented levels of collaboration and transparency. Data sharing between supply chain partners is becoming the norm, facilitated by technologies like blockchain, which offers a secure and transparent way to track the provenance of goods. This collaborative approach not only improves efficiency but also builds trust among stakeholders, including consumers who are increasingly interested in the origins and ethical implications of their purchases.

Workforce Development and the Skills Gap

As supply chains become more technologically driven, the skills required to manage them are changing. There is a growing skills gap in the sector, with a need for professionals who can navigate the interface between technology and traditional supply chain operations.

Companies are investing in upskilling and reskilling their employees, while automation and AI are being looked at as solutions to both reduce the reliance on human labour for repetitive tasks and to manage complex data-driven decision-making processes.

Customisation and Personalisation at Scale

The demand for customised and personalised products is shaping supply chain strategies, pushing the limits of flexibility and responsiveness.

Advanced manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, alongside AI, are enabling mass customisation, allowing companies to offer products tailored to individual preferences without sacrificing efficiency or scale. Nike, for instance, offers customers the ability to design their own sneakers, a clear example of how personalisation is becoming a competitive advantage.

Supply chains across many sectors are at a crossroads, with technology, sustainability, and consumer demands driving significant changes. The trends outlined above highlight the dynamic nature of the industry and the need for businesses to adapt and innovate.

As we move forward, the role of technology in facilitating these changes will be paramount, offering both challenges and opportunities and companies that are proactive in embracing these trends will not only survive but thrive. The journey ahead is complex, but by staying informed and agile and upskilling their teams, businesses can navigate the future with confidence.

Embracing these trends is not just about technological investment but also about cultural shifts within organisations, recognising the value of transparency, sustainability, and collaboration. As we continue to witness the evolution of supply chains, it’s clear that the future is one of interconnectedness, where success is not just measured by efficiency and profits, but by resilience, adaptability, and the capacity to meet the demands of a changing world.

Additional reading about supply chain trends

Moody’s Analytics: Top-Three 2024 Supply Chain Challenges and Opportunities

Wall Street Journal Logistics Report: New Disruptions, Geopolitics Hang Over 2024 Supply Chains

Top of Form

Emerging Procurement Trends Reshaping the UK Fast Food Industry

The fast-food industry in the UK, as part of the broader retail sector, is experiencing significant shifts in its procurement practices due to changing consumer preferences, technological advances and the need for sustainable operations.

As businesses strive to adapt and thrive in a competitive landscape, several key trends have emerged that are reshaping procurement strategies in the industry.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the top trends in global procurement within the UK fast-food and Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) retail sector:

Focus on Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing
  • Sustainable procurement: Fast food chains are increasingly prioritising sustainability within their procurement practices, sourcing ingredients that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced. This includes a focus on local sourcing to reduce carbon footprints and partnering with suppliers that adhere to sustainable farming practices.
  • Ethical sourcing: There is a growing emphasis on ethical sourcing, with fast food companies ensuring that their supply chains are free from labour or exploitation and that animal welfare standards are met.
Adoption of Digital Procurement Solutions
  • Digital platforms: The use of digital procurement platforms and e-sourcing tools is becoming more prevalent. These technologies streamline the procurement process, from supplier selection to contract management, enhancing efficiency and transparency.
  • Data analytics: Leveraging data analytics for procurement decisions allows fast food chains to optimize their supply chains, predict demand more accurately, and manage inventory levels effectively.
Focus on Supply Chain Resilience
  • Diversification of suppliers: To mitigate risks associated with supply chain disruptions, fast food retailers are diversifying their supplier base. This includes sourcing from multiple suppliers and regions to ensure a continuous supply of ingredients, when achievable.
  • Investment in supply chain technology: Technologies such as blockchain for traceability and IoT for real-time monitoring are being adopted to enhance supply chain resilience and visibility.
Strategic Supplier Relationships
  • Collaborative partnerships: A trend towards building long-term, collaborative relationships with suppliers exists. These partnerships focus on mutual growth, innovation, and flexibility, allowing for more responsive supply chains that adapt to changing market demands.
  • Supplier development: Fast food chains are investing in supplier development programs to enhance suppliers’ capabilities, ensuring quality and sustainability standards are met and maintained.
Shift Towards Plant-Based and Alternative Proteins
Focus on Packaging and Waste Reduction
  • Sustainable packaging: With increased awareness of plastic pollution, there is a push towards using sustainable packaging solutions. Fast food chains are sourcing biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable packaging materials to reduce environmental impact.
  • Waste reduction initiatives: Procurement practices are also focusing on reducing food waste through better inventory management and by partnering with suppliers that offer innovative solutions for waste reduction.
Localisation of supply chains
  • Local Sourcing: There’s a growing trend towards local sourcing, driven by the desire to support local economies, reduce transportation costs and decrease carbon emissions. Fast food chains are adjusting their procurement strategies to source more ingredients from local suppliers.


For wider reading about procurement in the fast-food sector check out these links

Ellen Macarthur Foundation: Food and the Circular Economy Deep Dive 

Mintel Insights: Latest Fast-food service industry trends

Does flexible working increase your productivity?

Understandably many had to move to remote working in recent years. There is now a view that hybrid working practices are here to stay.

Over 30% of respondents to the ProSearch ‘Future of Work’ survey already worked in a hybrid office/flexible way prior to covid, with a further 15% working entirely remotely, which reflects the agile and global nature of procurement & supply chain functions, with the need to work flexibly to visit suppliers and supply chain partners.

However, the hybrid model has gradually increased over the last 2 years with over 20% now working fully remote (from 15%), which created the opportunity for more efficient ways of working. This has developed good and bad habits, however has shown some companies the benefits, if you develop the right support, tools and most importantly have the right people.


The key takeaway from the results is that although challenging, if you have the right people it can allow for an increase in personal productivity. With the reduction of unnecessary travel, less commuting, and increased access and use of online data systems and video communication tools. In total, nearly 88% felt that productivity improved or did not change with the transition from full office working to hybrid, which also shows the resilience of these functional teams.

Advertising doesn’t always work – is there a better way?

Although we are seeing an increase in permanent job openings, many companies are struggling to find the right candidates.

In 2023 with more positivity and job opportunities, many organisations are still finding it difficult to recruit.

Whilst internal recruiters may have access to a lot of prospects, very few good people in secure work want to switch jobs at the moment. Many organisations are therefore finding it increasingly difficult to attract the right candidates and the realisation that advertising simply doesn’t always work.

When it comes to finding the best talent, or the right specialist skills what do you do? Advertising is evidently not working all the time, so how do you ensure you have the right proactive search & selection strategy for the passive candidates in the market? More so than ever, recruiting the right person, the first time is paramount, so how do you win the race for the best talent and attract the right skillsets, if people are rightly risk-averse?

What’s the solution?

Many factors attract people to leave their ‘safe’ secure role and seek a new career, flexible working, training, development, career progression, culture, financial and job security, to name a few. But none of these will matter if candidates are not aware of your company’s recruitment & career USP’s.

By getting to know clients and their requirements in-depth, we can really focus on the top-tier candidates for each role, whether they be passive or active. A professional and informative approach and the fact that any hiring company have retained a specialist recruiter, gives a great first impression to candidates, presenting them as an organisation that allows serious candidates to want to find out more.

Most candidates seeking a new career move are now increasingly selective, so it’s important to position your business and the role correctly as you may get only one chance to make the pitch to your preferred candidate. Actively searching for the right talent match with the right promotional material, 360 capability assessment and other selection tools, also ensures candidates know they are a good fit, providing them with the confidence to make the move. This careful approach reduces the risks for the candidates and allows companies to access the best active and passive talent.

Good specialist recruiters know their market inside out. Through years of working with procurement & supply chain professionals globally, we have access to extensive networks of passive candidates seeking their next career move, most of whom will not actively apply to job adverts. Furthermore, they trust their preferred agents to be able to assess the right roles and represent them properly to ensure they are not lost in the recruitment process.

Hiring great talent does not got any easier, but we can help

Reach out for a confidential discussion and we can guide you through a range of innovative and flexible support options that will help you solve that challenge.

  • Contingent Permanent Search – fee on result
  • ‘Accredited’ Interim resource
  • 360-Degree Procurement & Supply Chain capability assessment – online testing to support the interview process
  • UK, US and International market expertise
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