Things are looking up
The days are getting slightly longer, the snow drops are out and the vaccination programme is building up steam. So those are all reasons to feel just a little bit more cheerful.
I’m not ignoring the problems for businesses, especially for those people who are isolated from their friends, colleagues and family. But I am putting a focus on the positives, which was well illustrated by members in our latest Zoom meeting.
One mentioned that whilst he had lost some customers, slightly to his surprise, he had gained more, so was doing well. Whilst the majority are continuing to work in what they’ve got used to calling normal, at the same time they’re putting thought into how they will run their businesses in the future.
For example, if there is to be a lot more working from home, will that mean businesses will need smaller premises or will they even go further than that and not have an office space at all, and instead just hire a meeting room when they need to get the team together?
Members felt that some of the things we’ve been forced into doing may continue. They are saving money on fuel and expenses by not having to drive to face to face meetings by doing it on Zoom instead. They don’t think the virtual meeting will completely replace in person gatherings, but feel there may not be so many of them in the future and we could see a mixture in the long term.
Those business savings will not only have an impact on the bottom line, they will also make a contribution to a reduction in carbon emissions. Whilst members are very conscious of the green agenda, there are conflicting priorities. For instance, on shore wind turbines can be effective in generating electricity but if they were introduced into our area they would almost certainly have to go on high, exposed ground. That would be bound to irritate people who were concerned about the visual aspect in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It’s a difficult balance to find but there are bound to be solutions if we all work together, such as sharing equipment or a group getting together to jointly fund a solar panel project.
We also took the opportunity to hear about the need for volunteers to help with the vaccination programme, particularly in Midsomer Norton, which is serving much of the Chew Valley. It would be great if businesses got behind this effort and do what they can to give staff the time to volunteer and speed up the roll out of the vaccine.