Melbourne Australia 11th May 2020
As I write this article, myself and 5,926,624 Victorian’s await our state premier to announce the first stage of easing the isolation restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. To say today is an exciting day after two months in isolation, would be an understatement!
A little bit about myself. I’m a commercial property developer who completes developments ranging from $6.0m to $15.0m in end value. The developments are all retail focussed, with tenants mainly being national and internationally branded petroleum and fast food retailers.
Back to Coronavirus and isolation. This imposed isolation from governments around the world, has posed enormous challenges for small, medium and large organisations across all industries. Business owners and employees have faced unprecedented hardship like nothing they’ve ever seen in our lifetime, and hopefully never will again. My heart beats faster when I think about some of my friends who have endured sleepless nights, anxiety and deep concern for the financial welfare of themselves and their families.
As I reflect on what has changed over the last 2 + months, I think about the positives that have come out of my community. I think we’ve all gone down to the local cafe to buy the odd coffee to support our local cafe operators, even though we may not have needed to. I personally have gotten to know my local neighbours much more than I ever did in the past. Whilst we’ve kept our distance from each other, in a way we’ve become closer. The sense of community spirit in my street alone has been heart warming. I’ve called friends in need, to share good news, shoulder their worries and help keep businesses and households positive.
But my experience is that this community spirit has spread on a much bigger geographical range during this crisis.
I’m left wondering, actually more like hoping, that when life returns to normal (whatever normal means), will our sense of community spirit continue to grow and remain?
Despite all of this, there have been numerous positives to come out of this crisis. Every organisation, no matter the size or number of employees, has been literally forced to rely on technology in order to survive and thrive. People are working from home, meaning less traffic congestion, less pollution, and a better quality of life for those who previously needed to travel to an office everyday. I know from my personal experience during this crisis, that it has been the single most productive period since I started this business with my partner 7 years ago. Smart retailers have increased their willingness to sign up for new sites, albeit at discounted rents, but hey good luck to them!
Retailers, small and large, have been forced to focus on producing sales through ecommerce channels. Technology and the internet have been the saviour to many businesses. Put simply, we would have been facing hardship like that of a depression, had we not been able to trade with technology. Again I’m left wondering whether we will maintain that focus on e-commerce, post world of isolation, or will we revert back to old practices? I certainly know I will be continuing to find ways to run a more productive business, driven by a sense of community spirit, that is underpinned by as much bandwidth as I can get my hands on!
Let’s broaden our networks, share our community spirit well beyond our own neighbourhoods, and really make sure that we take some of the positives out of this time in our lives that we will never forget.
Brett Tooley | Director, PPH Developments