The Journey From Zoom Back to Boardroom
While it is still very early days, with children only just going back to the classroom, the hope is that the nation is slowly edging closer to the June target of zero social distancing measures. Vaccinations are rolling out fast with the majority of those over 50 having received their jabs.
As we inch towards our freedom, will we see meetings transferring from Zoom back to the boardroom? Will we find ourselves back in a pre-Covid office environment and will those morning coffee breaks look the same? Perhaps it is too early to tell what the city centres will look like, if call centres will go back to their previous arrangements or whether smaller hubs will pop up.
A New Way of Working
Since March 2020, many office workers have been working from home as companies provide equipment and the means to do so. We have all had experiences of sharing the wi-fi with kids that are trying to do lessons online and Zoom meetings have become the new norm. The commute has become walking downstairs and the morning coffee breaks have been walking to the kitchen to put the kettle on. To get away from it all, a lunchtime walk is about the best you can manage as part of your once a day exercise.
Missing the Office Environment
At first, it was all a bit of a novelty, we were all in the same boat together. Those that were used to working from home saw very little difference however for millions, it was new. Some that commented they wouldn’t be motivated to work from home, suddenly found themselves with no alternative. Meetings on Zoom were all a bit of a laugh to begin with, until we got used to seeing each other on camera. Dressing for the office meant making sure you looked presentable from waist upwards. Shirts, ties and smart dress became replaced by casual home wear. Online videos of people using filters inadvertently, or news readers with kids in the background, became viral but we just learned to laugh at these hiccups.
While many have adapted to this new way of working and will actually profess to preferring it, there are also those that miss the office environment. The standing round the coffee machine chatting about the weekend or the latest office gossip. The queue for the water cooler is no more and the city vibe has all but disappeared. The home is now where we live, where we work and where we socialise.
The Downside of Remote Working
Many call centres such as HMRC and Google are operating from home with operatives set up with all the tech they need to answer calls and deal with enquiries. If you have been on the phone to anyone from these large organisations, you may have experienced noise in the background. Dogs barking, door bells ringing, passing traffic… the recorded announcements even explain that their staff are remote working and that you may hear background noise. Who knows if the postman is going to turn up mid meeting and set the dog off or if you will hear those dreaded words “mum, dad, I need help with my maths”.
Office relationships have also changed. There isn’t that opportunity for team building and bonding or a quick pint after work. The pub lunches, the walk to the shops, the team nights out… they have all gone. The most we get now is exchanged messages online or seeing each other over an online meeting. Some find it a lonely place to be, especially those without the distractions of children, animals and partners to keep them busy.
Some family relationships have become strained, while others have flourished. Everyone is muddling through as best they can and looking forward to brighter times.
Will Remote Working Continue?
It begs the question “will this continue”? How long before we find ourselves working once again in an office environment? Some offices and call centres have continued with social distancing measures. This includes Perspex bubbles around the desk, the requirement to wear masks or working considerably spaced apart. For these people, the camaraderie of the office still exists however nipping out for a coffee has gone.
Office Sizes May Reduce
It probably won’t be long before offices are back to some sort of normality but it will look very different. As some roles will continue from home, there will be others that return to working form one place. The cost saving of an office is one thing but effectiveness of staff could means other costs to the business. Will we see reduced office sizes? Will smaller hubs form and will roles that can be fulfilled successfully from home, stay that way?
The One Thing You Can Rely On
It may be some time before we fully realise the impact of Covid-19 on the office environment and the future of working. Whether your office returns to how it once was or a version of it, you can be sure of one thing: we will continue to cater for all of your coffee needs so that you can fuel your team ready for the day ahead.