Working from home may appear to be the biggest transformation to working life post-Covid-19 pandemic, but something else even more seismic has also taken place and it's helping drive some really clever businesses.
If staff can now work remotely from anywhere, it dawned on many workers that the long-held assumption that the best talent lay within big city firms was false, and that has meant a complete rethink from, not just customers, but also those looking to start or to further their careers.
This way of thinking has led to extra attention for many regional firms in the professional services, and for those hidden gems able to stand up well to this new scrutiny is proving hugely beneficial, with businesses based outside of big cities such as London now feeling like the world may finally have caught up!
Chris Price, partner and co-owner of Tayntons Solicitors, said: ‘That you can do quality work and be close to your clients and your team, even at a senior level, is one of the reasons I chose to work at a regional firm rather than go to a big city when I started.’
Price, a former pupil at The King’s School Gloucester who has been with Tayntons for more than two decades, is one of the senior management team under Andrew Ollerenshaw that was already plotting radical changes pre-pandemic. The most obvious of those changes being a move to new offices at Llanthony Warehouse in the heart of Gloucester Docks.
It is all part of a clever master plan to continue to position Tayntons front and centre in a highly competitive marketplace, to keep existing experience, capture future talent and attract more business.
'We were already in a process of change as a firm, but what has happened has only made people realise what we have here in Gloucestershire, what has been building here for some time, and the talent pooling here too as a result,’ said Price, the son of a milkman from Gloucester, who loves his home county with a passion.
‘In Gloucestershire, the impact is more than just change of attitude following the pandemic. Developments like the law school at the University of Gloucestershire has also been significant in recent years and changed how people see the county.’
When Price made his decision to forge his career away from the bright lights of a big city firm, he was going against the grain, but having already done work experience at Tayntons he felt he had seen something special — not just expertise, but a nurturing environment in which he could be challenged to grow,
The mindset change post-pandemic, and moves like the University of Gloucestershire’s law school, are now convincing others that his view all those years ago was on the money — and Tayntons and the county’s stock, which he sees as intrinsically linked, are rising.
‘In terms of Gloucestershire having its own law school, you cannot underestimate the positive impact that is having on all the firms in the county.
‘Previously, the closest place you could go to get a law degree was Bristol, and the city has so many law firms, too, meaning that once you left the county, graduates rarely came back because they started their careers elsewhere.
‘Now people are coming from elsewhere into Gloucester to study. It is massively important. It has stopped the brain drain. And if there are people from Gloucestershire who want to study law, they can now do it locally,’ said Price.
Tayntons, which is 60-strong in staff, can point to proof in its recent graduates from the University of Gloucestershire. Luke Stephens who qualified in 2020 and has just been promoted to an associate solicitor and Madison Noel who is due to qualify later this year.
Price speaks of their personal skills with absolute confidence and about what they bring to the firm, how they contribute and challenge it to continue to evolve and stay creative and motivated, with infectious enthusiasm.
Routes into the profession, he said, had improved for the better, but Tayntons' long-standing approach remains part of its DNA. It is about finding the right talent, and helping staff become the best they can and produce the very best for clients.
'Our rule of thumb is if you are good enough, you are old enough. We have staff here at different levels who are all on different pathways, including apprenticeships, and that is also really exciting for the future,’ said Price.
‘And it has always been an open-door policy. It doesn’t matter whether you are a trainee or not, you can always speak to a senior partner for advice. No one is ever made to feel too petrified to ask or told ‘you should know the answer, now go and find it’. It really is a fantastic atmosphere.’
He added: ‘In Gloucester, there are so many changes. Now, when you step off the train or the bus your first impressions will be The Forum Digital, you have the Docks and the Quays and plans for the former Sainsbury’s site. It gives a really good impression,’ said Price, referring to the multi-million pound redevelopment of the area around the city centre square and transport hub.
Tayntons' move to Gloucester Docks is not just a move to smart new premises at the heart of the city, but keeps it in sight of others looking to develop their careers and keep it accessible for clients too.
‘It is actually the same reason I chose to work in a local and regional firm as opposed to a national firm. You get close to and work for the clients personally and get passionate about what you do. It becomes personal,’ said Price.
‘We have always prided ourselves on the approach that if someone is dealing with a matter for you, then you will speak to the person dealing with the matter. Not someone who picks up your file and says they need some time to get up to speed and will call you back.
‘People seem to appreciate that more and more and are seeking us out for what we offer across the firm. It feels good.’