Business boss comments on why new offices are needed in Chesterfield
A business boss has explained why new offices are needed in Chesterfield.
Currently, a seven-storey office block is under construction at the Chesterfield Waterside site, off Brimington Road.
As part of the town’s multi-million pound Northern Gateway development, work is also progressing on a new enterprise centre – which will provide 32 offices over three floors – on a section of the Donut roundabout.
And the Glass Yard, off Sheffield Road, will include office space.
Some people have raised concerns that ‘too many offices are being built in Chesterfield’ at a time when many employees are working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Tom Swallow, development manager at Chesterfield-based Bolsterstone Group PLC – the company behind Waterside – insists they are needed.
He told the Derbyshire Times: “Supply of good quality office space of scale is low in Chesterfield.
“A lot of people seem to forget it’s been a long time since new offices were constructed in the town.
“There are a lot of old office buildings which don’t serve modern requirements and occupiers who would like to move but do not have the right space available to move to. This can also impact on recruitment.
“If you want high-quality jobs, you need high-quality office space – like that being built at Waterside and the Northern Gateway.”
Accountancy firm BHP has already revealed it will be having an office at Waterside.
Tom is now back in his Covid-secure office full-time – and thinks there are many positives to workers being under one roof in a safe environment.
“Having that instant conversation with colleagues in an office, having that rapport, introducing ideas – these things are all really important,” he said.
“There’s a massive skills gap which could potentially happen for a lot of young people and trainees as well – they’re at home being asked to do certain things and it’s not easy for them. You learn lots of skills from colleagues in an office.
“Sustainability is also important.
“Think of all those homes being heated and all those kettles being boiled rather than it all happening in just one office building with multiple people in them.
“Sustainability has moved up the occupier wish list for new buildings.
“Place making is also a huge part of a sustainable future, and the new offices drive regeneration and creation of place through high-quality jobs creating disposable incomes which require local services.”
As we emerge from the pandemic, many businesses are adopting a ‘hybrid approach’ – where companies allow staff to continue to work from home if they want to in some capacity, while also keeping their office.
This is how Chesterfield-based Edwards Employment Solutions is operating.
Izabella Edwards, managing director of the firm, said: “During lockdown, all our staff worked from home.
“As we came out of lockdown, we realised we can work a little bit more flexibly than in the past.
“At the moment, if members of staff want to work from home one day a week then that is available to them.
“Sometimes they choose to do so, sometimes they don’t and they come into the office which is Covid-secure.
“There’s a lot more flexibility for people – for example, one member of staff had a washing machine delivered recently so it worked for them to work from home that day.
“I’d say this hybrid approach is going really well for us.
“It’s not affecting the productivity and quality of what we do.”
Giving advice to other businesses considering adopting a ‘hybrid approach’, Izabella said: “Providing your management systems are robust and engagement with your team is robust, I think you get a bit more productivity out of people by offering that flexibility.”
Tara Underhill, senior coordinator for marketing group Destination Chesterfield also shared her thoughts.
She said: “I’ve always done some working from home prior to Coivid-19 and love the peace and quiet for focusing on tasks, as well as the flexibility of being able to pop into town for lunch or quickly pick up my son from school.
“Going forward it will be great to be at the office for weekly team meetings.
“And Destination Chesterfield’s in-person events will return gradually from July-onwards. The first one will be a small tasting event for Chesterfield Champions.
“We will be taking a ‘hybrid approach’, though, because many businesses have said they prefer a mix of online and in person.”
‘Offering flexible working opens door for firms to find talent they need’
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has released new figures showing that 66 per cent of businesses surveyed were offering remote working to employees.
Jane Gratton, BCC head of people policy, said: “During the pandemic, many employers have learned how to manage and motivate people working from home.
“They’ve also experienced the advantages of an agile workforce, in terms of diversity, skills and productivity.
“It’s vital that businesses have access to clear guidance, information and best practice resources to help them embrace the broadest range of remote, workplace and flexible working options as we emerge from the pandemic.
“These results show that nearly three quarters of firms will now continue to benefit from a remote working option during the coming year.
“But it’s clear that some firms and individuals are facing barriers to remote working with many employers concerned about the impact on team morale and employee well-being.
“Working from home is by no means the only way in which people can work flexibly.
“There are a great deal of flexible options available to all businesses including those which require on-site presence, for example, job sharing or self-rostering of shifts.
“Businesses need to attract the best people with the skills they need to be successful and flexible working enables employers to unlock new pools of talent.
“Offering flexible working opens the door for businesses to find the talent they need to fuel growth and rebuild our economy.”