TWO articles in The Herald this week were, yet again, arguing that once we are over the current health crisis then “normality” (in this case office working) will once again reassert itself (“Survey suggests report of the death of the office have been greatly exaggerated” and “Developer declares virus will not spell demise of office market”, The Herald, June 3). Admittedly neither of the authors was a disinterested party, both being involved in the office development industry.

One of the authors makes the point that home working means that the “collaboration and social interaction” that office working can bring is missing. Undoubtedly this is true. However, if Covid-19 is to become endemic in the population, as some public health professionals have claimed, then this type of interaction may no longer be possible. Indeed, the post-Covid office may have to be configured in such a way as to increase the sense of isolation if people are to stay safe and healthy. The ability of transport infrastructure to deliver large numbers of office workers to city centres in a way that respects social distancing may provide a further incentive for home working.

What the debates also seems to miss is the employers’ view. After staff salaries, office rentals are usually the largest overhead cost. What many companies have found is that they can operate perfectly adequately with home working. The question that many may now be asking is “why do we need expensive city centre premises?” The answer is likely to be “We don’t”. Here the contribution of the Barclays group chief executive, Jes Staley, is very relevant when he stated recently that having lots of bank workers in expensive city centre offices “may be a thing of the past”.

What we may find is that the large corporates move to having a minimal city centre presence with most staff working a “blended” model, mainly at home but occasionally coming to the office. The implications of this seem to be significant. A decrease in demand for large city centre offices as well as the coffee and sandwich shops, plus the associated retail outlets. However, compensation may be a growth of these outlets in suburban locations as home workers develop new work patterns.

Keith Hayton, Clarkston.

No room for bikes

THE artist’s impression of a revamped town centre for Maybole is very attractive (“Historic town in ambitious £7.5M revamp”, The Herald, June 5). However, I am left wondering where will the cyclists go?

None is shown in the drawing and the paved street is shown as being only wide enough for one car. The pavements narrow to provide a loading bay and it is never desirable or safe to attempt to run cyclists in with pedestrians. If separated cycle lanes cannot be provided usual practice would be for cyclists to share the traffic-calmed low-speed one-way roadway but to be allowed to cycle in both directions on it.

This drawing does not show a roadway wide enough for the car and even a single bike to pass each other. Methinks the designers need to go back to the drawing board on this one.

R J Ardern, Inverness.

The 51st amendment

AS we are fast approaching June12, the 80th anniversary of the date on which my father, along with many others in the 51st Highland Division, was captured at St Valery en Caux I will give Maureen Sugden some credit for mentioning them in her Dunkirk piece ("Issue of the day: The miracle of Dunkirk 80 years ago", The Herald, June 5).

However, from the wording of one paragraph, it could be wrongly understood that the 51st were in the vicinity of Dunkirk (they were never part of the rearguard action) and that they were put under French command around that time. The decision to put them under French command was taken in March or April when the Division was committed to a tour of duty behind the Maginot Line in north-east France before the Germans had broken through in the Ardennes.

Circumstances, both political and military, then combined to act against their best interests, culminating in their eventual surrender at Saint Valery en Caux.

Archie Hamilton, Glasgow G76.

Good course work

I WANT to say a big thank you to Glasgow’s golf clubs for how they allowed, indeed welcomed, members of the public to enjoy their peaceful green spaces during the last 10 weeks or so. It was a welcome distraction to be able to explore the courses and wander freely around extensive and beautifully maintained land. It eased the pressure on Glasgow’s parks and gave us much-needed space, colour and pleasure during this difficult period of lockdown. So thank you again all you club members, ground maintenance workers and committees for sharing your space with those of us who don’t or can’t golf; it was truly greatly appreciated.

Beverley Gardiner, Glasgow G46.


I DOWNLOADED an app aimed at teaching Gaelic as I was keen to see which phrases the authors considered important. Two of their essentials are “Hello, Eilidh. I have no pants on”, and “Irn-Bru is not from Islay”. I’m certain both of these will go a long way towards a speaker’s acceptance in the Gàidhealtachd.

Gilbert MacKay, Newton Mearns.