Many B2B vendors have a large support center near London that serves all of Europe, as it is a good location to find speakers of various European languages, even native speakers who can work there without a work permit. With last week’s Brexit vote that directs the UK to leave the European Union, should they worry?
- Nothing drastic will happen in the short term. The departure from the European Union will likely take many months to negotiate, and we do not know what the exact effect will be on border controls, nor on individuals already working in the country (who are unlikely to be kicked out unceremoniously). Meanwhile, as the British pound dropped significantly, local expenses will be lower in dollars or in euros, which will lighten expenses in the short term. If you have a UK center and are satisfied with it, doing nothing is probably the best course of action.
- In the longer term, the UK will likely lose some international luster as it will be more difficult to attract pan-European talent, or at least more complex and expensive since work permits will likely be required. Other European locations that already have international communities will become more attractive. Dublin and Amsterdam in particular are likely to benefit from London’s decline. If you are thinking of making changes in your European organization, now is the time to consider alternate locations.
- Think about political risk when deciding on locations. The UK may have appeared to everyone, especially in the US, as very safe, but decisions made there are turning out to have significant consequences on business operations. Many vendors have support locations in much more unstable countries, decisions that have been made, often, on the basis of cost alone. What if those countries decided to significantly change their political alliances, or suffered other kinds of political instability? Always consider political risk when selecting locations. Low cost is wonderful, but if it will take months or years for you to relocate, you may be better off with a more politically stable spot.