Rural Design, based on the Isle of Skye, is finding that a renewed appreciation of the natural landscape has made clients keen to progress with rural projects.

My experience of the pandemic changed so much over the lockdown period. Pre-lockdown, we anticipated continuing to work in the office albeit in a safer, socially distanced way. Everything was pretty much business as usual on Skye and there was still a high number of tourists visiting the island.

However, there was a growing sense of unease in the community as we have a high population of elderly residents living here and limited health service provision. So we started to think about working from home and developing a home working policy. The lockdown was announced shortly after that.

Put into practice, working from home has mostly worked well for us. During the early weeks we all became familiar with Zoom for video conferencing and Google Hangouts for keeping in touch. We shared photos of home-baking, family pets and had a lot of laughs at the various work stations set up, the most stylish being a Mad Men-style arrangement with cocktails on hand and the funniest being the desk next to the bath (no names, you know who you are).

We were all finding ways of making it work, however we were also concerned about how long our current workload would sustain us all. We needed to think long-term about the practice’s survival so, when the government announced its economic packages, we knew the sensible course of action for us was to furlough staff.

Now, interestingly, clients are keener than ever to progress with their rural projects and we have the full team back home-working. I think the natural landscape has come to mean so much more to people during the pandemic.

Gill Smith
Isle of Skye, Scotland