Empty Office

Very Near Shoring …. a new phenomenon?

According to analysis of mobile phone tracking data by the Centre for Cities thinktank, worker footfall across 63 of the UK’s largest town and city centres was just 17% of pre-lockdown levels at the end of June, remained at 17% at the start of August and was still at 17% in the last full week of the month

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/10/no-rise-in-workers-in-uk-city-centres-despite-back-to-office-plea

We, at Marshall Wolfe, are back in the HQ on a part-time basis. We’re using the local Sandwich shop, pub, dry cleaners and hairdressers etc – supporting the outlets that are used to supporting us. … But this is Woodbridge (Suffolk), it’s relatively quiet when it’s busy and the longest commute for our team is 10 miles (20 minutes). It’s working well, but we are very aware of the need to potentially move back to home working. Would we commute 90 minutes into London to support local businesses and for the opportunity to collaborate face-to-face (albeit 2m apart)? Almost certainly not.

Since ‘Lockdown 1’ came to a close we have had an unprecedented number of enquiries for the feasibility of setting up Dev Teams up in East Anglia. Although there are already a lot of talented dev. teams in the East – most are at the locations of their parent company or they are purely tech businesses. There are a few notable exceptions and I wonder if this is the start of a Very Near Shoring trend. One of the enquires typified the ‘noise’: ‘we are not over-pleased with the quality of code from our near shore partner, but we do not want to compete (or see the need to compete) with London salary and accommodation costs, can you give me a cost and availability profile for standing up a team near Ipswich or Norwich’.

Agile Dev teams work most effectively when you can ‘swarm’ around a problem, task or ideate a solution; but they do not need to be locked in the basement of the parent ship. Homeworking works well for some individuals and for some tasks, but the ability to build (or bring together) a dev team around a satellite office is an attractive option. Especially if that office is within 60-120 minutes of London (or the host city in question). Face-to-face meetings are very achievable on a two weekly, monthly or quarterly basis for Town Halls or Strategy meeting etc.

It’s a bit like converting the garage for offspring that are still too old to be at home. I would rather not be ‘hanging on tenter hooks’ for a phone call (wrong time zone) for my daughter back packing around Vietnam, I don’t want to supplement her cost of living in London. I want her near, but not too near! … and guess what my daughter does not want to check in and check out and have her diary carefully monitored. She does like being near, but not too near!

Marshall Wolfe maps Technology Talent on a Regional basis. Our data driven desk-based researchers are able to provide bespoke reports to help you make informed decisions about the feasibility of setting up a Very Near Shore operation

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