1 September 2021

What can we expect from the post-COVID high street?

COVID has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives, and while some of these changes may be temporary, it looks like others might be here to stay.

One of the areas that has seen a huge amount of decline in recent years is the high street, and a global pandemic feels like it could be the final nail in the coffin for our once-beloved city centres. What can we expect from the post-COVID high street?

Less retail

Having to close their doors for lockdown and the ensuing loss of footfall meant that many stores had to close.

On top of this, the rise in property prices caused by the pandemic and loss of income due to lockdown left some retailers unable to afford rent on their storefronts.

Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle, as fewer stores means less footfall, which in turn means fewer stores. As consumers have become more used to and confident in online shopping, many are choosing this option instead of visiting in person.

More experiences

One way to bring retail back to the high street is to first focus on bringing people back to the high street. That means focusing on providing a welcoming atmosphere and unique experiences that can’t be replicated online or at home.

While they’ve had their ups and downs, pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants are set to make a huge comeback with restrictions easing. Let’s face it, who isn’t desperate to spend time outside their own four walls for a change?

It’s likely that we’ll see more ‘things to do’ on the high street, like cinemas, art galleries, children’s activities and live entertainment venues. These are the things that people have been craving since COVID hit, and if there’s enough funding and government backing, the high street will become more about experiences than consumerism.

Targeting local needs

Vacant units that were previously used for retail will be developed into resources targeting the needs of the community.

This previously occupied space offers a great solution for providing essential housing and public services that local residents are in desperate need of. We might even see citizens having a say in what facilities they would like to see on the high street, with councils taking a public vote to determine the recipients of any COVID funding to boost the local area.

Gardens and greenspaces

As we’ve come to crave more time outside, many cities are considering developing parks, gardens and greenspaces to provide enjoyable outdoor spaces for residents.

Here in Nottingham, there have been calls to turn the now-defunct Broadmarsh shopping centre into an area of parkland, following the collapse of its operator, INTU. While many residents would welcome a return to the natural namesake of the Broadmarsh area, dissenters feel that the Council is unlikely to go ahead with it, as it would be hard to monetise.

However, greenspace is a great way to encourage more people to spend time in the city, which in turn could lead to more footfall and a boost in the local retail economy.

15-minute cities

All of this adds up to more and more places becoming what’s known as “15-minute cities”. This is the type of environment where people never have to travel more than 15 minutes for all the essentials, from shopping and entertainment to education and healthcare.

This idea of 15-minute cities will become a staple strategy for city planning. By providing everything a person needs in the same area, a 15-minute city is better able to retain the revenue of its citizens, as there’s no need for them to leave.

11 May 2020

How the lockdown can help you to optimise your office space

During the current COVID-19 lockdown, many workplaces have become completely abandoned as employees have been working from home to stay safe.

The virus has had a major impact on the daily running of businesses, forcing us all to adapt and find new ways of working. While there have been many many negatives for businesses and their employees alike, there have also been some unexpected positives.

An empty office presents an unprecedented opportunity to make a few improvements to increase productivity and improve morale without disrupting staff.

Here are some ways that you can turn your empty office into an investment in the future of your business.

Assess your existing environment

First of all, it’s important to see what you’re working with. There are certain things that you may be unable to change, such as the position of walls, doors and windows, so you’ll need to plan around them.

Workplace management systems (IWMS) and computer-aided facility management (CAFM) tools are designed to show you exactly how you can utilise the environment. This will allow you to understand how much space you actually have, and how many workspaces you can support.

Doing this may highlight that your office is overcrowded in its current setup. You can then determine whether you can implement a new layout within the existing space or if the company would benefit from expanding into a bigger location.

Stay socially distanced

One concern is the possibility that the office will become a soulless grid of desks arranged to allow the maximum number of people to return to work.

While your work-from-home infrastructure is already in place, it makes sense to keep using it to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your staff.

Try not to get too bogged down in numbers, and don’t hurry to get everyone back at once. Make the most of those distance-working skills you’ve all been honing, and let those who are able to work from home continue as they are.

Consider workflow and productivity

Businesses change over time, and the way your office was originally laid out may no longer make sense. As rearranging desks and uprooting departments is hugely disruptive, we often simply put up with these less-than-perfect arrangements.

If certain teams and departments regularly collaborate with each other, it makes sense to situate them within the same area. Processes that involve working with confidential information or taking phone calls are better situated somewhere quieter and more private, such as in a separate office rather than an open-plan space.

You might want to introduce new, flexible working options to allow staff to work how best suits them. This could be quiet, private offices where people can get away from the hustle and bustle of the office when they need to concentrate, or bookable laptops and hotdesk areas for relaxed, informal working

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Before going overboard with your new plans, it’s worth thinking about what does and doesn’t work in the office’s current format.

A great way to do this is to email staff and ask for their input. As well as learning exactly what they do and don’t like about the office, you might also find that people have some great ideas that you hadn’t considered before.

This will provide valuable insight from the people who actually work in the office every day and will prevent extensive changes that end up making things worse. It’s also nice to include your staff in the process, allowing them to feel valued and respected—and to prevent a huge shock when they eventually return to work!


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Nottingham NG2 6DN




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