The up bit before the down bit

A year ago, my team at work was 25 people. In a month, we will have fallen to 13 people. This halving has been due to redundancies,  life changes, round-the-world trips, and people moving on to other jobs.

We are all really busy right now. A number of times, potential clients have called us and said, ‘We want you to do this thing that you’re really good at and we’ve written the cheque for you. All you need to do is say yes.’

And, insanely, we’ve had to say no.

No one likes to turn away work. Because 120% of our time is tied up, we have asked for help from the wider environment and planning group in London. They’re all busy too.

So we call our colleagues in ‘the regions’.

‘Really sorry,’ they’ve said, ‘But we’re flat out too.’ (Actually, the correct corporate speak here is ‘We can’t resource it.’)

So we call our mates overseas. No joy there, either. So the client has to take the work elsewhere.

The recession is still on, though. Although we’re busy now, I’m told it could all still go belly up. This could be an up bit before a down bit.

It all makes ‘the leadership’ nervous, which is why we can’t hire those sharp and keen new grads,  or the bargain basement experienced sustainability consultants who really deserve to be snapped up.

We can’t scold the leadership for their paralysis. Although we’re doing the work, over the past year more and more clients aren’t paying. Some have gone bust, and our only option is to join the queue to see if we get our money back.

The last six months have shown a significant and sustained upturn in business. I wonder what will happen in the wake of the UK election?

In the mean time, the things I’m thinking about are:

  • How can we make an airport in Italy more sustainable?
  • What makes sports, tourism, culture and creative organisations more financially resilient to climate change?
  • What is the carbon footprint of a family of hundreds of hotels around the world?
  • How can we work with the UK construction industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2012?
  • What are the social impacts of highways on communities that live near them?
  • How do we set up a portfolio of environmental services for small-to-medium enterprises?
  • What does sustainable event management mean for a multi-day festival in London?
  • How do we present regular energy monitoring data to the tenants of prestige office buildings?
  • Can our masterplan of a new industrial park demonstrate that it is more climate friendly than a standard development?


  1. Wayne says:

    It’s usually called “the calm before the storm”

    But in this case it’s probably more like “the storm before the calm”.

    (I’m sorry I don’t have any answers as to how to save the world. However I am envious that you guys will get to see the development of a credible third-force in an established political system first hand!)

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