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My New Normal: Town Centre Securities' James Broughton

This series aims to capture a moment in time, talking to men and women in commercial real estate about how their lives and businesses are being transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The last few weeks have seen videoconferencing become the new email, ubiquitous, inescapable and frustrating. But a Zoom meet with dolls and smiley multi-coloured unicorns in the background is still, alas, rare in the UK property business.

Town Centre Securities Head of Marketing James Broughton says his new normal is about sharing workspace with bunnies and playbricks, as he waits for the pandemic of business uncertainty to clear.

Town Centre Securities' James Broughton, colonising a corner of the playroom.

Bisnow: Describe your work-from-home life.

Broughton: Along with many working parents across the UK, I had to rather quickly form an office at home which has, unfortunately for my two small children under 5, meant me commandeering a section of their playroom. Having regular conference calls with my daughters dolls staring back at me can be quite unnerving!

Bisnow: How are you transitioning your life and business to the home front?

Broughton: Pretty well to be honest! TCS very quickly adapted the whole of our head office to be able to work remotely and give us access to everything we needed to ensure things remained as “normal” as possible.

Bisnow: What is your greatest business concern right now?

Broughton: Not just for businesses but I think the whole of the UK right now is concerned on the uncertainty of how long this situation will continue. 

Bisnow: What was your lowest low and the highest high these last few weeks?

Broughton: The lowest point was the realisation that this was actually happening and the massive effect it would have on all forms of life across the globe. On a positive note, as well as seeing how easily a 5-year-old has taken things in her stride (so far!), other highlights were seeing how quickly some of our independent tenants adapted their business to reflect the shift in requirement and how the whole team at TCS have pulled together and supported each other. 

Bisnow: What is the state of your business at the moment?

Broughton: As with many companies, we are of course looking at all areas to assess what is currently “business critical.”

Bisnow: What are you doing at home to keep your sanity? 

Broughton: Mainly having regular video calls with friends, family and colleagues including the odd virtual party on a weekend. 

Bisnow: How do you think coronavirus could permanently affect the way real estate does business?

Broughton: I think consumers will find a new appreciation for socialising – with this in mind I think the hospitality sector as a whole will see a massive boost in requirement for space. In addition, whilst video calls are a great option, there is nothing more productive or beneficial to staff wellbeing than working with colleagues in the same building and having direct access to the amenities within the city. 

Bisnow: What are you most hopeful about today?

Broughton: I am hopeful that my family, friends and colleagues of course remain safe and, in typical English style, that we don’t run out of tea bags.