Remote working or not?

This week there was some debate about remote working and whether this is here to stay. There are after all huge benefits in being able to hire the best candidate without worrying about geographic restrictions, not to mention saving the real estate cost if they don’t need office space.

However, the concern was whether this was coming at a cost. In not meeting do we miss relationship-building aspects, that have always worked well on a human, face to face level?

Productivity has been another concern. Even at the start of the pandemic, some were concerned that employees who were not visible, were not working, or at least not working as hard… that is there would be ‘slacking’.

In truth, with nearly all people I have spoken with, productivity seems to be up… many have less travel time and with back to back calls there are just more hours in the day to get stuff done…. to quote one of my discussions this week, “this is a myth that has well and truly been blown”… even in writing it down feels a little like an attitude from another era.

However what about the relationship element: grabbing a coffee after a meeting, chatting over lunch and even just laughing about something not work related, it has undoubtedly been harder to replicate, especially in a frenetic schedule of back-to-back video calls.

But maybe our attitude is part of the problem, in that the way we think about video calls has also not changed yet… we are still in the formal ‘get more done on calls’ attitude from pre-pandemic, where we would use before and after the call for the relationship-building social chit-chat… with back to back meetings now possible this is the piece that has been cut out… I mean we don’t even walk between meeting rooms these days!

So with a second wave continuing maybe this is the time to try new things. Do we actively build in more time for relaxed discussion, even make some of the topics less business orientated to help connect with each other. With the pandemic outlook no great, this will clearly continue for a while longer, so we are going to have to find new ways to create new networks of relationships, friendship and maybe this will help….

So remote working or back to the office in the future, who knows? I suspect we may reach a new balance, mainly remote (for those that want to) however with some days in the office to build connections and get to know each other…. we will have learnt something about ourselves this year too..

Have a good weekend everyone… @chris_w_tweet

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