Chamber Chat with Mal Garnett
I think we’re all aware that everything will have changed when we emerge from this latest lockdown. One of the issues that Chamber members have been discussing recently is the way we all work. We’ve been trying to understand whether people are keen to return to an office base or if the status of working from home is now the preferred option.
So far feedback suggests that the first choice would be for a balance of both. Employees find that some elements of their work can be managed better in the quiet of their own surroundings but feel that other aspects just aren’t as powerful without the chemistry of personal interaction and idea exchange. On top of this we’re told that there are days when you find you’re in the mood to work alone and others where you’d prefer a little bustle in your surroundings, even when you’re working by yourself.
This is a particular conundrum for small businesses. Their office space is a significant overhead and as there is no prospect of a full time return to the office in sight, it makes sense to cut this substantial cost. But how can groups ever work as a team if everybody is based remotely all of the time?
It would seem that the answer for a city like Lancaster would be to have more flexible office space; desks and meeting rooms that can be hired for anything from an hour to a week. Spaces like this would be useful for the community too, they could be used by clubs or societies in the evenings and at weekends. As we move forward out of lockdown, we at The Chamber of Commerce are hoping to help pioneer this potential for use of some for the city’s empty properties. We see it not only as a way of safeguarding the fabric of some of the city’s buildings but also as a way of bringing life back into the heart of Lancaster both during the day and in the evenings - a new way of working for all of us but one that anyone can share and an opportunity to restore vibrancy to the place where we work and live.