The summer seems to have flown by! It was a very nice surprise to get a mini heatwave for the August Bank Holiday – especially as the week before had felt so autumnal.
Heading into the summer months back in June, we already knew we were going to have problems with staffing – largely due to Brexit and a lack of housing. However, I don’t think any of us anticipated the impact a ‘pingdemic’ would have, putting our brilliant cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels and the like under immense pressure.
It’s been a strange few months here at the Chamber. In September, we trialled all staff being in the office full time; it was met with some resistance, and for some members of staff it simply didn’t work with their current circumstances, so we reduced it down to three days a week that we expect all staff to be in – or if not actually in the office, out with businesses and events.
Businesses must remember that those working from home have been doing so for nearly two years – that’s a very long time when it comes to humans adjusting to a new situation; personal circumstances can change significantly in that amount of time as well.
As a Chamber, we’re stressing that this is the unknown: the rule book has gone, and organisations mustn’t get hung up on what was. I’m not suggesting that employees claiming they must be home seven days a week to help care for their lockdown puppy should be given the green light to continue working remotely, but if they can’t get a dog walker on a Friday, would it matter if they continue to work one day from home?
It’s important to think about the impact on the business, versus the impact on the individual. Protecting the mental health of our employees and clients should be paramount – top priority in every decision we make.
A concern of mine over the last two years has been our young businesspeople and how they’ve fared after such a long period of time without connection, proper training, networking and opportunities for professional development.
A graduate’s thirst for knowledge, determination to succeed and excitement for making new business connections has undoubtedly been dumbed down by 24 months of silence, so we need to make sure they are finding that passion and enthusiasm again now that things are opening up.
At Cornwall Chamber, we’re putting a lot of effort into getting our Surge of Entrepreneurs events up and running, giving businesspeople under 30 in Cornwall the chance to grow, learn and make valuable contacts through their own Chamber-style group.
We want to hear young voices engaging in the business community at Surge and would love to hear from anyone who would consider hosting a Surge event in March 2022 as part of Cornwall Festival of Business.
For more information about Surge, please contact Jessica Matson, [email protected]. Jess was our apprentice a couple of years ago and now is, herself, a rising star of business in Cornwall.
Chief Executive, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Deputy Lieutenant, OT Parent, Foundation Trustee