The beauty of meeting outdoors

The end of a contract is always a difficult time. There’s a real high from completion, the joy of shared experiences, the bond of hard times and the satisfaction of a job well done.

There’s also the final account to settle, that scraping of the memory to recall promises of the moment, agreements to get the project finished, and the costs; expected costs, read-the-contract costs, and maybe even argumentative costs.

Wednesday was that day. The dust had settled, the client accepted the work and it was settle-up day. Usually this would be done in a soulless office, wit the pressure of colleagues close by, the distraction of phones, computers and endless sheets of paper. However, due to Covid, most offices are not accepting visitors, and my sub-contractor was no exception.

So we agreed to meet in a remote village half way between our offices and go for a walk to discuss outstanding monies and the future.

The calmness and beauty of the Cambridgeshire countryside, cloaked in its autumnal colours set the scene. From a small village churchyard we set off across the fields, with Wimpole Hall in the distance. Within 20 minutes, with the niceties done, our discussion got round to money. We were calm, nature had worked its magic and our discussions were quickly concluded. It’s amazing the difference that nature afforded. We’ve worked together for over 20 years and have a lot of mutual respect; we’ve delivered projects on the Olympic Park, the Commonwealth Games Velodrome, huge port areas and impressive roof gardens, but that final round up to make the numbers balance is always one where friendships are parked and money talks.

This time it was different. This time, amongst the crunch of autumn leaves, the numbers were quickly revived, our agenda agreed and we concentrated on more important matters: What could we do to change the future? How could we work more closely together, inspire each other’s business and develop an even greater partnership?

Some would argue that we were just in a good frame of mind, but removed from distraction and immersed in nature, our joint openness and clarity shone through and the whole experience was more productive.

As the sheep grazing in the fields of Wimpole Hall parted for us, your could hear the mulch of our footsteps and see the wisps of our breath, both of us relaxed with the content feeling of a job well done.

Matthew Hoddinott is walk leader of in Stony Stratford, and a consultant working For Olyi Ltd in the construction industry. To meet Matt, come along to the Stony Stratford Netwalks on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons.

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