Posted on July 16, 2020 by Dan May
On Monday, we started a gradual reopening of our offices. Having been closed since the 20th March, we have, of course, put a lot of work into make them safe and providing reassurance for those that feel nervous about coming back out of lockdown and for now, our reopening is gradual with some still at home because of child care or safety concerns. But slowly we are getting back together with our colleagues – albeit in a modified office to the one we left back in March.
I’ve enjoyed almost 4 months of working at home – no commute, increased focus time, more time with my kids, and I think it would be easy to conclude that home working for ever, is the way forward. But sitting back at my old desk today, with only a handful of my colleagues around me, I’ve had a big change of opinion!
I believe that the human mind is pretty clever, and we quickly adapt to new situations and create an internal monologue around them, to convince ourselves that the new situation is better than the old. I’ve spoken to lots of clients that have said they are every bit as efficient at home as they ever were in the office & that perhaps they will cancel their office lease and become a business based out of 100 homes.
As an IT business, we have all the tech that has meant working from home has been easy, and with Teams and Zoom, I feel well connected to our people. But stepping back into the office, I have instantly remembered how much better communication in 3D is, and how it’s the unplanned chats and conversations that really add to the learning & development of me and my team.
One of my salespeople said to me, ‘I feel like I haven’t really learnt anything this last three months, because I’ve missed out on listening to all the technical team chatting about their work. I have realised that it’s listening to those real-world experiences, that really inform my thinking.’ And my marketing manager commented, “I’ve realised that often, the messages I end up communicating to our clients, aren’t necessarily based on emails people send me with ideas they think I should share, but are in reality, conversations I overhear in the office, where I can then join in and point out that perhaps this message would be something our clients would benefit from.”
And for me, that’s the crux of it. Technology can keep us in touch, we can have really effective meetings and 121s via a video call on Teams or Zoom, but what we miss when we’re all in our home offices, is unplanned communication. It’s overhearing a colleague dealing with a challenge, and being able to share an idea that might help. It’s hearing another colleague making plans with a client and realising that you could actually co-ordinate with something else you’re working on, to make the solution more efficient.
I believe that because we’ve now come to accept the normality of working from home, we’ve perhaps forgotten what we missed when we first started doing so. Now is not the time to make decisions about the long-term future of your office, you need to remember the good as well as the bad points. Allow your teams to be together again, when it’s safe to do so, and then work out what the right blend of home vs office will be for your organisation.
We will certainly all work from home more in the future, but I’m not ready to give up our cultural team home just yet!
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