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About Us – Christmas 2021 at CLI

Just as we were in the finishing stages of building our new chill-out space on the ground floor of our collection centre, partly in an attempt to attract staff back into the office, and just as Christmas had come early at CLI with the delivery of a pool table late on Wednesday evening, Boris’ announcement that we were all to start working from home again arrived….

Still, the whole team was very excited at the prospects of using their new chill-out at some stage in the New Year.

Today we had reduced attendance for Christmas jumper day and sadly Secret Santa 2021 will now have to be called post-Christmas and post-New Year Secret Santa!

Other than that, 2021 has been another very odd year. Hybrid working has been adopted as the new normal at CLI except in the Admin and Accounts departments where activities are more paperwork based and work from the office is much easier.

Christmas Jumper celebration

Christmas Jumper celebration

CLI Chrismas present 2022

CLI Chrismas present 2022

Legal Debt Recovery

Courts were a little bit slower this year. Money claims were still issued on time but the process was a little slower when they became defended. On the other hand, telephone hearings were very efficient, on time, and both parties had a good opportunity to talk which was no different to being in Court, if nothing else, it made it more relaxed and parties who were representing themselves were less intimidated. Pre-COVID, there were more delays waiting in Court and when you are sitting in a waiting room, it’s just wasted time, you can’t work or do anything.

We voluntarily took additional steps before starting Court proceedings as the Debt Collection industry as a whole was keen to show high levels of forbearance and our clients were very supportive and always understanding that giving debtors more time to pay and the necessary breathing space was the right thing to do.

It is the enforcement stage with was the most affected by COVID in our experience.

Internationally, everything slowed down, debtor visits stopped pretty much everywhere in the world where they are usually carried out, many large creditors were affected and placement was greatly reduced (e.g. car hire companies, traffic fines, catering, entertainment & travel industry, hair-dressers, etc…) In some countries like Israel, where Debt Collection services are not perceived as key for the economy (e.g. Israel) all debt collection offices had to close down on multiple occasions.

Many businesses could not pay (independent high street retailers) but many consumers were better off (no travel costs, no social activities) and B2C collections were rather better than anticipated.

What about mental health?

As an employer, we tried to ensure that our staff was well looked after, even remotely. In May 2020 and again at Christmas 2020 time, CLI Directors drove around Kent and delivered vitamin C & D and wine from our own vineyards to all members of staff as a morale booster; We made sure all were well set up at home offering screens, laptops, office chairs, asked staff to send us photos of their home workstation to make sure they were sitting comfortably, and I am pleased to say that nobody dared sending a WFB picture (Working From Bed)

Given the great results we achieved working remotely, I initially thought that we were going to give everyone the choice of working how they liked, from home, from the office or a mixture. After all, everyone had been and is continuing to be very efficient from home possibly more productive. But after talking to a few business owners, advisers, and attending a few seminars, I decided that this might not be the best option. The reasons for this are:

– The company spirit and togetherness, belonging to a group with a set of value and interacting is a key element of work. We are social animals and we need human interactions to continue to feel that sense of belonging. Learning from other can only be achieved in an office environment and above all, our people need time out of their house for their mental health.

– If people say “I’m alright at home, thanks, happy working from home, got used to it” don’t let them. As human beings, we are very adaptable and we probably feel that we can all continue working from home forever, but in the long run, this is not going to be good for us.

Finally, remember what your key new year’s resolutions should be:

Use CLI, member of the CSA, to get paid for your work promptly and prevent bad debt!

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