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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jeffrey

Pivoting Property based Income streams for Social and Cultural Buildings

It’s been received wisdom that having your own property from which you can generate income streams is a GOOD THING. You could rent out office space, offer meeting rooms even run a café/bar. If you found the right property you could reduce reliance on external funding substantially and the world would be a brighter and happier place.

Much of my career has been involved in leading such organisations. I’m thinking of places like the Media Centre (which I established back before even emails were widespread) and QUAD in Derby. If I was setting up these places now I’d have to think very differently.

Beneath all this is the basic notion that home working is here to stay. Received wisdom that people must be in a work environment to be productive has now been smashed. You can be just as productive from home as in the office. More than that, it makes no sense from an environmental, social, health and well-being point of view to re-introduce long commutes in packed trains or lonely cars.

Most importantly, people like working from home and with ZOOM, Teams etc this is more than possible.

HOWEVER there is still a requirement to bring people together. People like to build relationships in the flesh (Fnaar) and so physical work places will still be required just not in the way we currently see them.

Staff members will need to be in the “Office” far less than pre-Covid so when they do make the trip in the requirement will be to be focused on certain activities such as planning meetings and objectives whilst they are there.

So what might social cultural and creative organisations think about to rebalance this income stream?

1. Smaller but Flexible working space for staff: If you’ve travelled for a meeting you will need a space to check your emails, this hot desking approach will need careful management so proper systems and policies will need to be developed. Large open plan offices may be a thing of the past.

2. Increased Need for Meeting Rooms: Well managed companies will need to bring staff in for activities which reconnect teams, on-boarding new staff and reinforcing organisational culture. Conversion of redundant office space may be a solution.

3. Social spaces: can a new type of corporate social space be created where teams come together for a meal or a few drinks, maybe a quiz night in socially distanced ways?

4. Events: Everyone wants networking events to return and so being aware of this new standard is vital but you will also need to think about how technology can help focus and maximise the time spent by attendees. You will need to prepare and be ready to link people beforehand so they can quickly identify who they might want to talk to.

DEPARTMENT might point a way forward. Their concept is “workplace not work-space” and aims to bring work and the social together.

Antenna Media Centre in Nottingham already has many features which could easily be adapted to meet a new way of working.

This is a time to pivot, structural changes in the way we work will impact on social and cultural organisations in many, many ways, time to get thinking!

Some links to help you think this through:

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