Covid 19, the Gamechanger
The evidence is clear. Covid has changed so many aspects of our business and personal lives, including where we want to live. Not just the UK, but all over the world especially large cities like London or Paris where both anecdotal evidence and hard data confirm this.
I’m a Londoner, born and bred. I left London when I started Intrinsic 15 years ago as I guessed that this thing called broadband and web services would allow me to work remotely and then travel to London, Reading, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Munich and all the other cities and countries that I do business in. In 15 years, I have NEVER been late for a meeting apart from one time where the GPS and postcode were in conflict.
I recall back then just how I was almost scared of letting people know where I lived for fear that I might not be taken seriously. In fact on occasion, if I had arrived for an early morning meeting, the usual small talk as often the case starts with, “Where have you come in from today?” “Bournemouth I’d say,” “BOURNEMOUTH??!!” was often the incredulous reply. “Where is your blue rinse?”
The fact is that I have worked at the sharp end of the software, now SaaS sector for 24 years on an international basis and where I live made not a jot of negative difference. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it made me perhaps more successful for various reasons, including a desire to prove the naysayers wrong.
I noticed perhaps 7 years ago, that I was identifying more and more SaaS executives living close to me. Then I noticed that the numbers were increasing exponentially. I started to realise that whilst I was perhaps an early adopter, there were a lot of us that lived their time at least partly away from the main cities.
PS – Bournemouth has a fast growing tech scene now! I wonder where the next silicon fen or silicon roundabout will be?
Fast forward to 2020/2021. Now, when people ask me where I live and I say, “Bournemouth,” the response is often, “Oh, lucky you” or, “yes, we are thinking of moving out also.”
To further add weight to my post, I have 2 active linked in groups – SaaS Sailors and Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch SaaS Executives. Many people in these groups live well away from major city areas.
SaaS Sailors – If you are interested in any aspect of sailing and work in SaaS, Software or Tech Services – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8828418/
Bournemouth Poole and Christchurch SaaS Executives – Does what it says! Join if you work in tech and live in the general area, have links or are planning a move. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12017259/
Why is any of this important?
Now, the reason that this is important is because where we live is a critical consideration in relation to where and how we work. The way we lead, manage, coach, support, inspire our people or even start up new companies is under consideration in the move to remote working. Companies are considering their current office arrangements and the evidence all leads to a hybrid approach to work. My concern for London and other major cities is clear and I doubt that we will ever go back to the way things were before?
If this is the case, what about all the business that serve the commuter? Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, clothes shops, gift shops. Many have been decimated by the effect of covid but it remains to be seen how the world returns in a post covid world?
Cornwall has overtaken London this year as the most searched for location on Rightmove, according to analysis by the property portal for the BBC. Neighbouring Devon sits in third, and Dorset has risen from 20th to 10th.
Credits – Rightmove and BBC
The new norm?
I’m not saying that the major cities and towns will never recover and get ready for tumbleweed blowing in the wind. London, Paris, New York are always going to be power houses and the wonderful metropolises that they are.
But, if you read the data from Rightmove and other global data, it is clear that there is a step change taking place and employers are going to need to be flexible and open minded to the new normal that I suspect will mean 1-2 days a week in the office and the balance of time at home or with clients.
My clients are telling me that they are closing, in some cases, quite large enterprise deals when never actually physically meeting their clients in the flesh. This was unthinkable 2 years ago. I suspect that the new normal will mean that face to face time with clients will return, but will be mixed with digital meetings and less face to face. After all, B2B selling has and continues to change massively. To understand how, you need to attend “Enterprise Selling in the Digital Age”
There is an environmental consideration also. I, as most people feel good that we are being less polluting of the world. Breathing cleaner air, listening to birds singing, not spending 3 hours on a packed commuter train with people coughing over you. What about the efficiencies in running our businesses now? Who has not thought about these factors?
The world was changing and has changed. The question is for how long? Human Beings have historically relatively short term memories and it is easy to return to what we used to do, so will we see a return to the way things were?
Or, will there be more and more people working in Tech, SaaS, Business Services that decide to join me in Bournemouth, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Wales or wherever the air is sweet? One thing I am sure of, the redistribution of some of the property wealth across our United Kingdom and away from the cities has started. To what extent, remains to be seen.
Drop me a line to talk about SaaS, Sailing or Bournemouth