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Birmingham – a crucible for innovation


As light appears at the end of the pandemic’ lockdown tunnel, the future of office use and city centre life is the subject of debate and speculation. Successful pre-pandemic city economies attracted investment from productive knowledge businesses selling beyond local markets and these acted as a driving force for the local economy by increasing demand for other businesses selling locally.

A recent review by Centre for Cities highlighted the employment split across the exporting and local services businesses based on a ratio of 28:72. Indeed as Covid-19 emptied corporate offices the loss of clientele for local cafes, bars and restaurants has been all too apparent. Observing this, pundits argue that the way we have worked in 2020 is a true glimpse of the future; but, as we look to an economy based on a sustainable knowledge-intensive business, can we afford to let this be true? 

It does seem that slowly emerging trends pre-pandemic were accelerated by the viral intervention suggesting there will be fundamental changes in the way we use offices. It seems a new hybrid model of in-person and remote working is likely to be common practice; but the death knell for the office is premature. There are a number of reasons why I believe [hope] that this is the case. Issues around retaining a company’s culture, peer-to-peer support and juniors learning from senior staff by osmosis are key are obvious factors; but here I am focussing on the need for continuous innovation in a world where consideration of a status quo will no longer be relevant or even exist. ...