It seems an eternity since sending our seasonal message in December. There is a deal with the EU, described by some as thin – it still runs to 1246 pages. There’s even a breakclause and we’d recommend careful consideration of the conditions and process for exercising!
More poignantly and with some relief, prophesised signs of the deal’s impact have not happened. As ever, the imperative of commerce found solutions and there are no queues at the ports. Words like ‘disaster’ and ‘catastrophe’ in relation to Brexit appear to have been exaggerated. This resonates with our experience at SBM – no single client outwardly took a business decision because of the UK’s relationship with the EU. Not a single client has closed a facility in the UK because of Brexit. Since 2016 our internationally orientated clients have doubled down on the UK demanding lease extensions and the acquisition of new facilities.
In 2010 we decided to explore beyond Europe (in response to its relative decline) and incrementally, every year, to invest in our global network – bringing market orientated solutions to clients seeking advice in Australia, Argentina, India, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada and USA. Throughout the major business conurbations in these countries, we have interviewed and we have hired the brightest property brains working to the demands of SBM’s project processes. We access these key property workers, with a phone call, without the need to immediately get on a plane. Of course, we are still working within and serving our phenomenal clients in Europe who have global interests.
By far the greatest opportunity for our clients is business life after Covid, now the publicly funded research through Astra Zeneca has led to a vaccine. Thankfully the vaccine is being made available to developing countries on a ‘non-profit’ basis.
Through listening to our clients and from experience, we believe the economy will recover almost as quickly as it suffered from the lockdowns and regional restrictions. Beyond the virus induced extreme difficulties and personal traumas being experienced by so many, we believe there are reasonable grounds for optimism. At SBM we are ready for the expansion and rationalisation coming from the recovery from lockdown and unwinding of state support for the economy.
Get Things Done
The biggest threat comes from over pessimism and over caution – waiting until others have moved before moving. Our most dynamic clients have and are geared up to gain market share as the Recovery from Lockdown comes on stream. Efficient expansion demands the right configuration of the right properties:
- Creativity Centres – Formerly known as ‘offices’ and ‘places of work’ the future is Creativity Centres or Collaboration Centres – physical locations for added value communication only. They will be surgically clean and fitted out to stimulate cerebral creativity, collaboration and mental dynamism. Never again will the ‘office’ be a place to ‘work’. Teams and Zoom are finished in terms of the excitement stemming from an electronic meeting and can be saved for future pandemics and as an alternative to a voice-call. For CFO’s there will be smaller offices with fewer people present and on a time-limited basis before leaving the building – leading to lower property costs.
- Factories – The home of the unsung heroes of the pandemic and the place where ‘workers’ have to travel because the capital cost of the units which they operate are in fixed locations. They turn in day and night to produce the products we demand and which are delivered to our doors. At SBM we have been in and worked alongside factory staff in countless facilities around the world for clients expanding, relocating and closing their old facilities. We believe their value has to be reassessed and that all factory facilities will include greater emphasis on the provision of dedicated health and wellbeing centres built and incorporated on site.
- Warehouses – Another home of the vital worker together with the drivers that provide the critical circulation around them. The relentless acceleration of online retail continues. Warehouses that serve the consumer are new beating hearts of the economy. The working conditions are such that modest investment in human wellbeing would surely make a massive difference to them and build resilience for the business. This is an area we will be watching closely and increasingly discussing with clients.
Yes, there are reasons for pessimism and if you are seeking solace in negativity there are plenty of options. At SBM we offer unalloyed, unapologetic, realistic, optimism within the context of to quote a client, ‘the art of the possible’.
Whilst rock climbing in Wales over the summer, the ex-services course leader said simply – ‘can’t means won’t and won’t means jail’. Let’s escape the current situation and resolve to get things done in 2021.
Published: 7th January 2021