1 October 2021
Back to the Land - Again
So, I have told you before about how what I thought was going to be a 3 week “camp” at the flatlet at my office for the Covid lockdown became a slightly extended affair. I very soon realized that I would not be able to get back to Pebblespring Farm any time soon. So, I made the very painful decision half way through last year to let out the cottage on the farm. I was relieved to find a tenant and was very happy to see that they were even able to do some small farming in the time they were there. If I had left the place unattended I have no doubt that it would have been vandalized and overrun by vagrants and poachers (in the same same way it was when I found it before buying the place). As we speak though, the tenant’s 12 month lease now comes to an end on the first of October and I am eagerly counting down the days until I can restart my adventure at Pebblespring Farm.
But some things have changed in my thinking over the period of Covid and the various categories of lockdown we have lived though. Firstly, I have really gotten quite used to the idea of living where I work. While I know that for many people across the world this has meant that they have been able to work from home, for me it came to mean that I was required to live at the office. But the point is that I quite like it that way. I quite like the idea of not having to commute. I quite like the idea of having only one internet connection, one armed response, one garden to rake the leaves up out of, one bathroom to keep clean, on fridge in which to keep the milk for my tea…… I think you follow my thinking here.
So as I write these words (and perhaps the reason I am writing these words) is that I am thinking through the detail of my next step. What I am sure of is that I will begin to get the cottage ready for me to move into it as soon as the tenants move out. What I am equally sure of is that I will then move back to the farm. What I am not sure of is, if, how and when I will get the office to follow me there. There are a number of things to think about:
1 – I will have to beef up security here at my office, if the dogs and I are no longer sleeping here. But this is of course a short term problem. While I can see that there may be a transition
period where I am again sleeping at the farm and commuting to the office, the idea is to remove myself from the the Walmer property completely. (if I do remain involved with it, it will be as a developer and and investor, not as a tennant)
2 – My colleagues working for me, may not be too happy about commuting out to the farm every day, but then again its only 20 kms or so and it is against the flow of traffic. I do quite like the idea of physically working together in one space for a good portion of the day. While I have found that during hard lock down, we could work apart, I see that there are definitely some efficiencies that come from us being just a “shout over the shoulder” away from each other.(in fact I am even a little worried about making this post because – I have not yet sat down with and spoken through the detail of the move, mainly because I am not clear on the details)
3- What I have noticed is that the need for a boardroom for client meetings has drastically reduced. And also, if there were a need for a client meeting, it can easily be redirected to another venue (what I am saying is there would be no need to inconvenience clients by having them drive out all the way to Pebblespring farm for a meeting.)
4- It is also really quite handy to have an easy to reach address (like sixth avenue Walmer, where things can get dropped, either by Takealot or Checkers sixty60 or by clients, contractors of suppliers)
5- Then the other concern I have is the “what will they say?” concern. And I suppose that is one of those questions that lurks in the back of my mind and then once I expose it to scrutiny kind of evaporates. Who is the “they”? Why do I think that “they” will have anything to say at all? I do suppose there is something to say for PR – It would not be useful to me in business if the “talk” was that my moving out of Walmer was to be understood in some way as me closing down or scaling down my business.
6 – There are a whole lot of things that I like about living in Walmer – I like to be close to the gym. I like the place where I drink coffee in the mornings. I like the fact that I can get things delivered quite easily here.
So if those are the top 6 things that are bugging me. Let me think through here what options I have.
Firstly I think it is important to have some presence in town. I suppose I can achieve that by partnering with a friend in business – Perhaps put up some signage at their office gate – so if someone were to drop something for us they would see us. Maybe even a place where one of us could work for a short while, though, I think a coffee shop is perfect for that. Or perhaps we have no presence at all (in terms of signage) – We simply have a “drop box” an address in Walmer from which things can be collected or at which things can be dropped. The more I think of it, the more that I see that it is really not a very big issue.
There may be a need for a boardroom table from time to time, but these events will happen with such advance notice that theses meetings could very easily be held at the offices of a friend in business or at at coffee shop, or in extreme case at hired meeting spaces.
The problem of my colleagues commuting: The obvious answer there is to clear my vision in my head as best as possible and then to sit down with each of them individually and work out a solution. It may be that I need to increase a salary slightly to accommodate the increased monthly fuel bill. It may be that I would need to agree to greater “work from home time” I don’t know, but the meetings will guide me.
Then there is the matter of what is the PR message here? And I thing that can play out very well. I think the idea can be celebrated as a time appropriate response to the times. I can be celebrated as a leveraging of the technology that we not have to begin to live and work more where we choose and not where we are compelled to because of convention. Yes – I think I can get this message out there in a way that it is seen as positive and progressive.
But on a personal level. What do I do about my gym routine? What do I do about my coffee routine. I quite like the light an loose social interactions here. I don’t see myself driving all the way in the morning to the gym here. That would be counter-productive. I suppose the answer is, we will just have to see what new routine and rhythm grows up out of this change – and you know what – worst case scenario – move back to Walmer – for heavens sake – all of this is undoable!!