How COVID-19 will change the way we work
We recently held our second Dice Connect roundtable, which was focused on coming out of lockdown. We took a deep dive into the opportunities and obstacles as well as what working practices have been successful and what hasn’t worked so well.
The boom of Zoom
For this virtual roundtable I was delighted to speak with Ian Carey of Pulse Consult, Shruti Trivedi from Roythornes Solicitors, Peter Jubb from Refraction Marketing and Nick Gregory of CPMG Architects – all expertly hosted by Cartwright Communications’ Annie Brafield. One of the key points to come out of the discussion was how Covid-19 has changed the way we work. The technology that we’re all currently utilising has been around for a while, however the pandemic has really brought it into the fore. This week Zoom, the platform we used to record the episode, announced that its total daily participants had increased from ten million to 300 million during lockdown and its total net worth is also now higher than the top seven global airlines. It is technology like this that has made working from home possible, but will it enable us to give up the office completely?
Working from home vs office working
During the discussion, Nick said that there is no replacement for sitting round a table to work out the details. “We rely on team working – the ability to sit around a table with felt pens and tracing paper – is something that needs to come back into our way of operating as soon as possible. Sitting down with a client, with plans in front of them in order to respond directly to their questions and concerns, is incredibly productive. “But outside of that there is a lot we will pick up from this. We’ve proved that all the software we use is, almost without exception, working brilliantly. We’re also looking at our accommodation and reassessing how much we need – potentially reducing the number of desks and increasing the breakout and social areas.” I have to agree. While this prolonged period has shown us that we can all work from home, and the technology is there, I think it’s unlikely that we’ll give up the office completely. Instead it’s about safely finding a balance. It seems that everyone is split into two camps – those who love working from home and those who really miss the office culture (although this has the potential to shift from week to week). Personally, I’ve really enjoyed working from home and having more balance - it’s made me slow down and readjust slightly, which has been great. When we set up Dice, we really placed a lot of emphasis on wellbeing and creating an adaptable culture – such as our unlimited annual leave and flexible working policies. Moving forwards we therefore want to encourage our team to work from home more and instead use the office as a place to meet up and work collaboratively.
Getting clients on board with technology
However, this flexible way of working has not only impacted where we work but also how we work. Many businesses have reported an increase in efficiency as staff are afforded a better work/life balance through no commute or travel to meetings We’re all very familiar with driving an hour either way for a 20-minute meeting that easily could have been a phone call or an email. Sometimes there is no substitute for face to face meetings but, as lockdown has proved, many meetings can be done via video call. “It’s shown people that you can do it, the technology was always there but it was totally underused. I used to spend half my life travelling ridiculously between meetings and I think there now is going to be a choice.” said Shruti. “In the future I’m going to give my clients a choice and lay out both the cost and productivity options of travelling to a meeting or hosting a video call.” This brings up a great point made by Ian, which resonated with everyone on the panel, that the amount of tech we utilise is ultimately down to our clients. He said: “We have to align ourselves to our client’s expectations, however I do think that clients will be more receptive to holding meetings digitally post lockdown. It’s all about getting clients’ buy in.” A hybrid model was suggested by Peter to get the best of both worlds. “I think the use of video with existing contacts can continue without a huge amount of detriment. However, for new business and people that we need to build a relationship with, that needs to be in person. We’ll therefore see an increased use of video calls but hold face to face meetings for key discussions.”
So, what will this ‘new normal’ look like moving forwards?
I’m certain that working from home will become increasingly normalised and consistent as part of our working lives and this period has really got the ball rolling. To find out what other topics we discussed as well as hear a more depth discussion on working from home then please check out the second Dice Connect episode #02. So, my final question is: what next? Please leave us a comment letting us know what you think the new normal will look like as we emerge from lockdown and keep a look out for our next episode where we will hopefully be answering this question.