Pandemic side effects, such as a surge in ‘buying local’ and greater focus on workers’ well-being, could have a positive impact on the island – but only if islanders “first and foremost” get back to work.
In his latest Opinion piece for Express, David Warr, owner of Cooper & Co, explores how the pandemic is forcing us to rethink the ways we work and live, and what this means for Jersey's future...
"Does hospitality have a sustainable future on Jersey or will the outcome be that all we were doing was the equivalent of shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic?
So the great relaxation turns out that we’ve moved from only take-out to out-side seating, our cafés still though remain void of the people that provide us not only with the ambiance that is café culture but also the revenue stream that sustains ours and many of our customer’s businesses.
Pictured: Coronavirus is affecting café culture across the island.
It turns out that the economics of St. Helier only works when its office workforce fill the vast empty voids that permeate her. Working “remotely” may work for many financial institutions, it doesn’t if you are the owner of a café or restaurant.
Never has it become more apparent that a flourishing finance industry based in St. Helier is literally meat and drink to hospitality. That is why we need a strategy that enables our office workers to return to their desks safely. I’m sure office design that seriously considers the health and well-being of its occupiers rather than just their productivity will be a whole new industry.
Pictured: David is keen for the flourishing finance industry to return to work safely.
Then there is the visitor economy which has been so neglected for decades. Criticised for perceiving to be the source of an unskilled and undervalued workforce that puts pressure on island resources but now appreciated as a key ingredient to island life.
The money brought into our economy by our visitors has a majorly positive impact on our lifestyle and benefits everyone from retailers as well as the economics of diverse air and sea links. Building resilience following the carnage of Covid has to be a key strategy.
Pictured: Tourism is now appreciated as a "key ingredient" to island life.
Ok, so I’m biased but another outcome of Covid has seen a huge surge in support for all things local. Once again money kept in our economy brings sustainability to our smaller producers. My son who is locked down in London couldn’t buy an egg for weeks. The reality of the fabled food desert.
Here on Jersey we’re tripping over local eggs, milk, butter, potatoes etc. What a fantastic position to be in. However we must remember we can’t wait until another crisis to “support local”, if we do then don’t expect too many of the businesses to still be here waiting for your pound.
There’s lots to sort out post-lockdown; traffic levels, better public transport infrastructure, better public spaces and many other issues but first and foremost we need everyone to get back to work otherwise all the positives will be wiped out by too many business failures and that Covid iceberg will have shown up the futility of moving those deck chairs."