Sheffield’s Hidden Business Scene In The New Normal
Sheffield businesses were hit extremely hard by the pandemic. According to Sheff News, millions of grants were issued for businesses across the city. With the grants of the summer now a long way away and businesses expected to chart their own course to safety, there have been wide adaptations across the business ecosystem to help adapt to these changes and create a new, prosperous Sheffield city centre.
In the offices
One of the most notable changes has come in the working patterns of office workers. Sheffield has a large office working labour force, with several government departments retaining huge offices in the city alongside the many business variants of the service industry common to the UK. Remote working has, of course, been a huge shift for Sheffield workers; the need to communicate remotely, via video and phone, has changed employees’ expectations of work and broadened the need for quality housing and communications infrastructure. The ongoing success of remote working, however, has been highlighted by the recent decision of Zoo Digital to move their head office to the Steel City, in order to act as a central hub to hundreds of remote workers in the city. This is good news, and indicative of positive signs in the tertiary industry.
Manufacturing and industry
Manufacturing has been on a downwards ebb in Sheffield and many saw the lockdown as the final bell toll in that regard. However, what has now risen is a burgeoning high tech industry. The University of Sheffield has long had an interest in digital manufacturing and has been involved heavily, especially in robotics. Now, the University is leading the national charge towards generating a new, high-tech manufacturing industry across the country. Sheffield will be the epicentre of these efforts, and it should help in getting more businesses in the high-tech fabrication industry off the ground and up and running.
Perhaps driving forward Sheffield business more than anything else is the phenomenon of home businesses. Many employees left their regular employment last year, seeking better terms and pay elsewhere. In many cases, employees left regular employment to set up their own businesses and start making their own products. Yorkshire Live has produced profiles of many of these companies; one Sheffield business, Twinkl, has taken on the huge homeschooling market to start making profits and has been pushing forward new digital business in the city. As more and more workers decide to shun ‘regular’ employment for the entrepreneur world, more businesses like these – run, simply, from bedrooms – will be expected to pop up across the city and the region.
In a sense, then, Sheffield business is thriving – you just won’t see it on the street. In the spare rooms and bedrooms of homes all over the city, entrepreneurs are getting their own businesses off the ground or are quietly working away, remotely. It’s good news, both for the health of the city and its economic identity.