By Bill Price, Trustee
In my long engineering career I have never really worked from home. I’m now getting the hang of it and I’m noticing a few interesting points. I’d say I’m busy in three areas of activity which are: taking to work colleagues, staying in touch with immediate family and helping support organisations I’m connected to formally and informally. Of course the RSS is in the latter camp so I’m trying to be responsive where possible to help ensure the Society keeps going and the budget and governance remains strong so we can take action accordingly to protect members as well as Society staff in these very unique and challenging times.
I have discovered that staying in touch on the phone rather than by email is far more rewarding and interesting. It’s also a much better indicator of how different people are getting on and how they are coping with the circumstances of isolation and distancing. In my work environment, phone calls usually start with a short exchange about the health risks before moving into the more usual dialogue on project priorities, programmes, design changes, resources, deliverables and commercial matters. With clients, investors, co-professionals, contractors, fabricators, suppliers and the media all in the same boat, it feels to be a very collaborative and collective feeling to work together until we can safely re-emerge into more familiar territory. The work WSP does to support artists and sculptors is continuing uninterrupted through the network of engineers we have developed and now working remotely.
My other WSP responsibility is for strategic growth and so I’m trying to think about what will be different in the future. For example, people might be more willing to work from home to avoid public transport? Offices in cities might be easier to convert into residential under new planning guidance? The quality of our public realm could be targeted for significant improvement? We might get 5G and better communication systems quicker? A huge downturn in the global economy could make many people think about what they really need rather than what they want. A future rooted in health, ideas and thoughtfulness rather than advertising, celebrity, trivia and materialism is a strong possibility.
Another organisation I’m connected to as a Trustee is the Rose Theatre in Kingston upon Thames. They have postponed the spring/summer season of shows (theatre, music, comedy, youth activities and community events) so I have been helping them to re-shape the business and understand how to obtain the government support on offer. The Rose is also focussing on preparation for the autumn season and we are all looking forward to enjoying the theatre experience as soon as practical and safe.
So, this is day 2 of the real lock down. Let’s see how chirpy and creative I am on day 22…
BP 24 March 2020