There’s no doubt the Covid crisis has brought about a change in all our lives and nowhere more than in the world of work. However, developers and planners continue to announce plans for new office spaces, shopping centres and infrastructure it seem unlikely we will need and business leaders increasingly cry “foul” as their ship goes down, when the truth is it is they not a virus who blew it! It’s time we were re-thinking business, but who is listening, what will the new world of work look like and what opportunities does it present for enterprising businesses?

What follows is an extract from a discussion paper you can download here The paper comprises a few thoughts that business owners, of all kinds, including planners, landlords and developers, may like to consider before they launch another misguided, ill-informed, wasteful and expensive initiative.

Neworking at home

You can’t help, but have heard the assurances from business leaders and government representatives that we’ll all be back at the office soon, but it’s all a load of bollocks. 

With typical lack of foresight, governments around the world placed considerable effort behind persuading us all that we could and should work from home. Now their ducks have come home to roost and they are frantically back-pedaling

It’s obvious and always was, that if you remove the need for long wasteful journeys into work, paying the vastly inflated costs of childcare (in the UK anyway), forking out for car insurance, road tax, congestion charges, petrol (gas in the US) and in some cases housekeepers and cleaners (because you don’t have time to do these things yourself) not to mention the toll the daily grind takes on your health and wellbeing, everyone will be happier. Everyone that is apart from the people who made their living out of your pain.

So, let’s get this straight. There are some people who are happy to get away from the house, their partner or the view from their bedroom window, but, by and large, we’re happy working from home and many, if not most of us won’t go back to the nine-to-five unless we absolutely have to. 

The thing is, this was always inevitable. The reason we are caught out is that the Covid pandemic accelerated the process way beyond anything we had imagined or that most people are able to keep up with. This will impact, not only on their business and the sector it operates in. It’s implications spread far wider. This is the “Domino Disruption” I wrote about a few weeks ago. It’s here, it’s happening and we’re already too slow to respond in re-thinking business.

The knock on to retail catering

Consider the volume of business inner-city bars, pubs, restaurants, coffee and snack bars, pavement stalls and even vending machines apportion to office workers. A lot. Right? So what happens now we are staying in the suburbs all day? No business lunches, nipping out for a sandwich or a non-eco-friendly plastic packaged salad and no quick drinks after work while you wait for the rush to subside at the station. There won’t be a rush because people simply won’t be there. The UK’s Eat-out-to-Help-Out initiative may have enticed a few of us into local bars and restaurants, but that’s not re-thinking business. We all know it’s unsustainable. Then what?

Phil Darby
September 22, 2020

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