The team behind the Perch Eco-Business Centre in Bicester have launched a new research campaign to discover the effect COVID 19 has had on workers across the region.
BootTheCommute.co.uk is a survey by Town Square, a company managing co working business spaces, aiming to find out what local workers’ commutes usually look like, and how their attitudes have changed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The survey will help the team learn how people travel to work and how their feelings may have changed, with the results highlighting just how much money, distance and most importantly, time, people are spending on their commute.
The Perch Eco-Business Centre opened at Elmsbrook in Bicester last September. Developed by Cherwell District Council and supported by European Regional Development Funding, it is managed by Town Square and provides a beautiful, eco environment for the growing number of people who don’t want to work from home, at least not every day of the working week, but who also don’t want to have to commute into the city, or pay for offices they seldom use.
The innovative building comprises a mix of co-working space and serviced offices over three floors and has been sensitively designed to be distinctive, eco-friendly and sustainable.
Perch’s Community Manager is Lucy Wendon. She said: “We opened in September last year and four offices were taken straight away, including by an architect and an airport crew recruitment company. Earlier this year we had one of the UK’s top water leak detection businesses, FidoTech, move in, alongside a local family development business and others.
“We have an incredible building here, which in normal times can accommodate up to 200 workers. We have some parking and can also help with a company’s travel plans, including organising bus passes or car sharing.”
Elmsbrook at North West Bicester is the first phase of the UK’s first eco-town, a pioneering new development on the edge of the town. It is the only development to be built to the original high sustainability standards outlined in the UK’s official government Eco Towns Planning Policy Statement 2009.
Town Square, which runs the centre, will analyse the survey’s to see how an individual’s trip compares to the rest of the UK, and give some examples of the alternative ways people could spend their time and money. From the number of weekly shops or barista coffees, they could buy instead, through to entire days off work or even just a few hours more in bed!
The data will be used to analyse how far people typically travel, how happy they are with that commute and, now many of them have had to work remotely, whether or not they want to change it.
Gareth Jones, founder of Town Sq, a BCorp company*, said they hope the data would highlight whether attitudes have changed. Gareth said: “Before lockdown, the average commuter spent 60 minutes a day travelling to and from work.
“The entire country has essentially been giving remote working a pilot test, and many companies and individuals are realising that despite the restrictions, they can still work. What we are looking to find out is how strong the desire is to keep this change, and whether or not people are interested in the alternatives, like being able to walk to work.
“That’s when we can really start to have interesting conversations about how the wider way we work is changing. Much of the current conversation is about getting people back into the city centres, so they can bolster those economies. But what we’re saying is that if you really want to level up our regions you need people living, working and spending in local communities. Suddenly, talent will stay at home and create the economic ecosystems that can help revive dying high streets, create jobs and save a ton of CO2.”
*Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Such companies seek to accelerate a global redefinition of success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.