If the past three months have taught us anything, it’s that creativity not only can, but must, live beyond the bustling flagstones of Soho and Shoreditch.
Now that we’ve all mastered the etiquette of the teams hand raise and confirmed that we do indeed have lives outside of work (despite trying to cover all evidence of them with fancy virtual backgrounds), isn’t it time to concede that ideas don’t come from locations, but from people?
As the creative director and co-owner of a Create Health, a specialist healthcare marketing agency in Bristol, I’ve long extolled the virtues of this West Country city. It’s a place where you can lose hours in spectacular parks or strolling along harbourside walkways. It’s also home to a rich creative culture that goes far beyond Banksy and Brunel. With Cheddar Gorge on my doorstep and the coast a 40 minute drive away, now, more than ever, I’m appreciating the freedom that being outside the M25 affords me.
“Don’t you feel like you’re a bit behind everything?”
There’s an odd idea that everything starts in the capital and that we provincials are small minded laggards. You only need to turn on the news to see that this simply isn’t the case.
In recent times, Bristol has been the focus of national – and indeed global – movements for change. From Greta Thunberg’s address to Bristol’s Youth Strike 4 Climate in February to the recent Black Lives Matter protests that saw Colston’s statue hurled to the bottom of a river, I’d say we’re not only part of, but at the forefront of, some of the country’s most important discussions.
There are other benefits, of course, to thinking outside the Big Smoke. I probably don’t need to tell you that while lockdown has pushed house prices into a ‘deep-freeze’, searches are up for rural areas and smaller towns. Families are looking to escape to well-connected locations where they can bag a little more outdoor space and perhaps an AGA for all that home baking we’ve been up to recently.
There’s great thinking beyond London
Believe it or not, people don’t magically lose their ingenuity upon exiting Zone 6, they take it with them and join exciting agencies based elsewhere – in places that work better for their families and their health.
This isn’t necessarily a new trend, as Gen Y and even Z continue along their career paths, health, happiness and purpose have all been placed firmly at the top of their key decision drivers. What is interesting is that it often takes a big life event to stop people and get them reflecting on what they truly want. Covid-19 has definitely been that event for many, and as a result of both the restrictions of lockdown, and widespread voluntary redundancies schemes we’ve been in-undated with talented individuals looking for a new workplace to call home.
The exciting realisation for Create Health however, is that we can not only pick from the best of this bunch, we don’t need them to suddenly up sticks and move Bristol (until they feel ready or want to). Working from home has finally proven to the many ‘office traditionalists’ out there, that you can trust your employees to work remotely and in many cases they are more productive. Meaning now more than ever you should hire based on skills and cultural fit – not where they are geographically based.
Food for thought
Today, in-between a Zoom chat with a US brand that’s embraced our belief that creativity is key to driving better health outcomes – a book review with a talented Art Director I poached from London – and an exciting conversation with a client that’s about to make a massive breakthrough in Alzheimer’s, I’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with my two boys in our local park.
Bristol is a wonderful place to be – or as we say down here, gurt lush.
Phil Blackmore, creative director at Create Health