The “Pret-Effect”: Re-imagining the future of work
As we approach the end of the holiday season, it’s that time of year when our minds turn towards returning to work and the long run towards the colder months that take us to the end of the year. Sorry to remind you. This year is a little bit different, however. Many people will be wondering if they’ll even have a job to return to. If they do, will they be in the office or continuing to work from home, perhaps in quarantine depending on where they’ve been on holiday.
Spare a thought for almost 3000 workers at Pret A Manger in the UK who are to lose their jobs when the company announced the decision to close 30 stores. Some have coined the term the “Pret-effect” to describe the numerous announcements of companies either cutting staff, closing offices or extending their employees’ ability to work from home, creating ghost towns of our inner cities. For example, Capita have just announced that they’re closing 100 office sites permanently and the law firm Linklaters have said that all 5,300 of their staff can work from home 50% of the time – indefinitely! Let’s face it, if you’re not in the office you won’t need to nip round the corner for a sandwich lunch.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I was becoming increasingly concerned by the homogenization of the High Street and the fact that there seemed to be a Pret A Manger on every single corner. Sure, they make great food, but what about a little bit of diversity of choice? The same goes for numerous other chains which benefit from the economies of scale and an economic system which favours the big guy over the little guy (I’ll spare you that rant for another day). Yet at the same time, I don’t want to see our inner cities suffer what amounts to a heart attack.
I believe that what we’re experiencing is not a short-term blip but a fundamental restructuring of the future of work – a trend that was already underway pre Covid, but is being accelerated by the pandemic. On many levels, the homeworking revolution will be a boon to many people, employees and employers alike. In a recent survey by the U.K.’s Chartered Institute for Personal Development (CIPD) over 1000 employers, 28% felt that inefficiency had been improved. Good news surely? Well maybe. The concern is that people are not used to working extensively from home and struggle to create the right boundaries between work life and homelife. We are evidently working about 4-5 hours extra each week unpaid, on top of all the overtime we were already doing. That’s unsustainable from a physical and mental health perspective and I know that from speaking with friends, many are struggling to strike the right balance.
I firmly believe this goes way beyond a simple binary choice of work from home or work in the office. We not only need to think about where people work in the future, but how they will work. I wrote in the July Bullog that we might see something of a renaissance in rural parts of the country which have suffered after decades of rampant urbanisation. That is my great hope as someone who grew up on a Scottish Island which suffered decades of decline. But place is just one part of the equation. We need to create working environments that are conducive to inspiration, innovation and well-being – where people are not forced to work alone at the desk in their back bedroom, but in groups, collaboratively and have the ability to spark off one another. That’s why at the Craigberoch Business Decelerator we’re focused on creating what we call “co-being” residences – a fusion of co-working, co-living and put simply, just a great place to be. We’re looking to pilot these in early 2021 so watch this space for more details.
But this evolution in the future of work plays right into the ethos of what Craigberoch is trying to do. We’ve been working for several months on a Prospectus which seeks to put this into words. Click here for a copy that is hot off the (digital) presses and hope you are able to give it a quick read. Feel free to get in touch if you want to get involved in some way.
The Future is Hybrid
Speaking of the decelerator (as I often do), we’re having a bit of a dilemma about what to do about our planned event in October, given all the uncertainty over. As you’ll no doubt have read, many countries such as Spain and France have joined the U.K.’s quarantine list making international travel difficult. Having gone online for her last two events, I was very keen to have a physical event before the end of the year.
After discussions with our Cast, we believe the best option is to go hybrid. What do we mean by that? Well, we will design and curate an experience that will be predominantly online and open to as many people as possible without the need to travel. However, we will have some of our Cast members physically present on the island and who will host additional events. These will be additional and perhaps more in-depth sessions for those who feel able and willing to travel – if the law permits of course.
It’s a compromise for sure, but we feel it could be the shape of things to come in terms of hosting. We’ll have a mix of some sessions being run by someone remotely, others by a Cast member who is physically present. As ever, it’s a bit of an experiment, but if you’re at all interested in being involved. I’d encourage you to sign up to receive more information without any obligation at this stage.
Best of rest
Despite August being a holiday month, I’ve continued to be busy providing support to a major corporate based in Geneva on a social innovation project to create a cadre of intrapreneurs. I do this in conjunction with several other Craigberoch Cast members and it seems to be working very well based on the feedback. This is what we term “CraigB2B” (see Prospectus for logo and more info) and it’s getting interest from a number of organisations. For example, I’m in discussions with SAP about a workshop early next month and also met recently with the Head of Innovation from the UNHCR and the Deputy Director General of the Red Cross, who appear very interested in what we can offer. Fingers crossed.
Speaking of SAP, I did an online interview with Deb Kaplan who heads up their One Billion Lives intrapreneurship program and discussed experiences that lead to me writing my book and also the whole philosophy around deceleration. It should be going live on their Purpose Network Live part of their website very soon where you will see the recording. It was a fun discussion.
We also had our inaugural Craigberoch Café, a new experimental event which will take place on the last Sunday of every month at 8 pm CET / 7pm UK / 2pm EST. This is an online, open and safe space for our growing community of alumni who have attended a physical or a virtual event. Alexander Inchbald, aka “The Artist” was our guest speaker this month and got everyone thinking about what they wanted to create in their post Covid world. He is running a free mini-series this Tuesday and Wednesday, 1st and 2nd of September from 5-6:30pm (UK) called “Love What You Do” in conjunction with a number of colleagues. If you see yourself as a bit of a rebel or a misfit, then I’d recommend you take a look and register online for free.
On the personal front…….
I took my first flight in over five months in early August and traveled from Geneva to Scotland. My timing was perfect, not only because I enjoyed beautiful weather but also because Switzerland was put on the quarantine list the following week and I would’ve been unable to go. It was fabulous to visit my mum on the Isle of Bute and see friends, go to beaches and swim in the sea. Coincidentally, The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunack had also decided to visit on the same day which attracted some attention as you can see in the photo. Speaking of VIP visitors, Patrick Andrews from our Core Team visited Bute for a night as part of a camping trip with his son and we made a visit to Craigberoch and the ruins we will be renovating.
While in Scotland, I also caught up with my sister and her family too at their home in Linlithgow, not far from Edinburgh. While Zoom has been great these past few months, there is no substitute for face-to-face!
Otherwise, the the singing continues and I’ve even been asked by my teacher to join the new Acapella group which will be called “Voix-La”. The French speakers amongst you will understand the double entendre or “Jeux de Mot”
Lastly, I was delighted to have a few groups of friends visit us in the mountains during a couple of weeks in August which allowed lots of hikes, biking, barbecuing and just a little bit of wine.
That’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + BlogMake sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.