{ie} are on the move

Well, the big news is that after 17 years in London (for Marcus, 12 for Cassandra), we are on the move back towards the North.

Whilst I do spend an average of 5-7 days a month in Central London, it’s not sensible to carry on living with the challenges of London if we don’t need to be here every day (whilst Cassandra is a partner in Integrated Experience and does most of the accounting etc., her main business (photographic editing and film matching) doesn’t require her to be in London at all).

More of our work is outside of London than in it currently; we have overseas projects and work across the UK. Of course, there will always be a core of work in the half-mile radius of Eaton Square, but most of the larger projects we are working on are outside of Central London.

So, we have spent the last couple of years planning to leave and I am sure I don’t need to go into too much depth into the issues that face anyone living in London; the (lack of) affordability, poor air quality, the pace and stress of big city life and so on. It’s a great city to live in, but a hard city to live in.

We’re running 2 businesses from a 2 bedroom flat, neither of us can quite afford to take on anyone to grow our businesses (and be able to pay them a living wage); so we need the space and opportunity that living outside of London will bring.

So where are we off to?

We have bought a beautiful Victorian cottage in the middle of the Hope Valley in the Peak District National Park. I spent my childhood through to my late-twenties living one side of the Park or the other, so it is a return to roots for me, closer to ageing parents and other family members (looking forward to seeing more of our little nieces in particular). We’re both very outdoors people, so we have world-class walking, cycling, climbing very much on our doorstep (we can step out of our front door and be walking in remote moorland very quickly).

When is this happening?

Well, as ever, things are moving at the pace of solicitors; so it’s not 100% clear just at the moment - but if all goes roughly to plan, we’ll be up there permanently by the end of September.

What changes in our working relationships with our clients?

I have talked this over with our clients over the past few months and explained the reasoning behind our move and how things will change.

The long and the short of it is that very little will change. If we’re booked in with you to deploy software on site, it really doesn’t matter where we’re coming from; if we’ve booked Tuesday the 4th, we’ll be there on Tuesday the 4th; just the same as things today.

We will have decent train connections into London and, even from our own village, we can get on the first train to Sheffield and be in London for 9:30 (or get a lift/taxi to Sheffield and be in London for 8am).

Now, of course, there are some practicalities with that and, to a degree, slightly less flexibility. We all know that projects slip and so on and, currently, we can be slightly more flexible if we can shift bookings around to deal with slipping projects, even at short notice. We will need to work even more closely with our clients to ensure that time on site is going to be productive and realistic - I think this is a good thing.

Ultimately, whilst I love the time on site, we all want less of it, so having less flexibility should focus all of us on ensuring that, where possible, systems are built and tested off-site and making sure that documentation etc. is correct so that we can develop and test as much in advance as possible.

Meetings become slightly harder to schedule, but with the advances in conference calling systems, we can all become more time-efficient. I love Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc.; the focus that a 30 minute conference call brings compared to a physical meeting is hard to beat.

But you’re moving to the sticks; aren’t they still on dial-up there?

We knew when we started looking that broadband might be an issue. There has been a large investment in rural broadband in Derbyshire (see Digital Derbyshire for more information) and we had hoped that wherever we moved would have half-decent broadband (it matters even more for Cassandra moving photographic libraries up and down from the cloud).

Our new home is ready to go with fibre to the home; we can get 300Mbps broadband in a cottage at the end of a small village in Peak District! We can’t get that here in South West London…..

So we have no worries about broadband and we’ve got decent phone coverage as well.

Expansion plans

I am desperate to bring in some additional skills to the company and expand both capability and capacity; the numbers have never quite added up here in London for being able to afford someone else (I am sure every business owner in London knows that salary requirements are very demanding - Crestron programmers with 3-5 years experience being paid £40+K! Part of the reason {ie} exists is to help companies that can not afford the overheads of a full-time programmer).

With the need to bring in someone with stronger web-development skills as we move towards HTML5 in Crestron, this is the perfect opportunity to be able to take someone on and with Manchester and Sheffield both being close, the pool of talent is considerable.

The future

In short, I hope that this move is beneficial to both my personal health and well-being as well as that of my company.

I do believe I will be able to offer a higher level of services going forwards in terms of the skillsets I plan to develop and bring into the company and, also, the focus on efficiency that will be required to ensure that time in London is productive and effective.

I also hope to get a little more time out on my bikes to enjoy some of the world-class scenery the Peak District offers.

If anyone finds themselves in the Hope Valley, then we’re always open to showing off one of the most beautiful places in the UK!