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The recession has changed the shape of business forever, says Richard Lambert

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The CBI has been monitoring the effects of recession on British businesses. The body, which represents 240,000 UK businesses, has noticed a real change in four key areas as a direct result of the downturn.

Firstly, there will be a definite move towards more flexible workforces. Nicknamed a "flexiforce", future businesses are set to concentrate on keeping a reduced core staff with a larger, flexible workforce contracted on the side.

There will also be greater collaborations among businesses, says the study. The recession caused a "domino effect" along many supply chains, where the failure of a single business created knock-on failures down the whole chain. In future, the CBI predicts that more and more businesses will look to work with partners and even competitors to prevent this scenario happening again.

Also, there will be a general focus on sustainability and ethics in business. Green initiatives and ethical working will become more integrated into the British business model. There will also be a huge uplift in transparency as firms seek to retain customers and staff.

The CBI belives that British businesses of the future will seek alternative funding options to protect their firms. Innovation and growth will be fostered in unique ways, rather than depending on the private equity market or bank funding. 

"Attitudes to finance and to corporate leadership are changed for a generation by the shock of the past two years," says Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI.

"What we now need is a more balanced, less risky pathway to growth – one in which the short-term returns may be lower, but the long-term rewards for management success will be a lot more sustainable and secure."

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