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Brain Power will see us through

As the lockdown is gradually relaxed individuals will start getting used to the new normal, keeping apart from other people, wearing gloves and face coverings.

For businesses things are not so straightforward. Some, such as the hospitality sector, have been completely shut but many companies have found what I have termed a “holding pattern”, operating with a largely or wholly home based workforce and so keeping their heads just above water. Productivity and team work will have suffered, it’s been really difficult for some people, but at least they have been able to keep going through the last difficult weeks.

The next question is how does the “holding pattern” change, especially when the Furlough scheme becomes less generous ? When people start to go back to the office each business will have to organise themselves differently, for example by having only a fraction of total staff in the office on any given day. The challenges will be endless, but I have been impressed by the positive and creative way people have been rising to them. In fact I’d go as far as to say there’s some real confidence that the problems will be solved and that there could even be long term advantages in the way we work in future.

The key is that we have a lot of bright people putting their brains to work and thinking through what future scenarios might look like for their businesses. Other groups are applying their minds to the broader picture, working out how the local economy can be renewed for the benefit of the whole community.

One crucial change that would not cost the Council money would be to find a way of being more flexible when it comes to planning restrictions. Rightly or wrongly Bath has a reputation among some developers as being a difficult place to work. As we’re moving into a phase where there may be a need to re-purpose buildings, for example changing from retail to residential, the rules could be relaxed so that we can change things to adapt to the new circumstances. That doesn’t mean wrecking our marvellous environment, but bringing some fresh thinking when it comes to planning restrictions could pay dividends.

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