When it comes to working from home and taking daily exercise to get out of the house it seems that its more than our bodies that are getting a workout. Our minds are developing new muscles that are learning and growing to work in the new norm – remotely!
I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t relied heavily on the internet during the pandemic: children; teenagers; adults; seniors and oaps are embracing new technology with gusto. The pandemic has levelled the playing field and become a technological equaliser both at home and in the workplace. People that would have sworn blind that they would never use Facetime to meet their friends are now turning to various one-dimensional frames to catch a glimpse of a different face or two. At work, things are developing at a rate of knots too. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are seeing usage like no other, and we’re clearly heading full on for a new ‘norm’ when it comes to office culture.
We’re all getting used to non-commuting – you remember, spending hours each day traipsing to the office: parking the car; waiting for the train in the early morning drizzle; crushing into overcrowded trains; spending hours and hours staring at the same four walls; eating lunch at our desks, then doing it all over in reverse and five times a week. The habit seems like a distant memory that ‘past you’ seemed content with, but now seems wasted time and the new you, with time to ponder may even consider it a waste of precious life – which is the subject of a deeper blog one day!
So, what could the ‘new norm’ look like in this utopian world of limited travel and being shackled to a desk at corporate HQ? Imagine, if you will, a world where you commute to a local office, a hub or work from home. At the local office your colleagues have the flexibility to work in their pod, or if they prefer they can work at their homes when the plumber is due or an important delivery is promised, who cares? We are all grown up, right? We’ve spent weeks and weeks locked behind closed doors, but yet output hasn’t suffered, performance hasn’t suffered and arguably more focussed employees working from their dining room tables have turned it around (and not suffered).
In this simple world that respects the individual’s right to a life, will corporate head offices become a status symbol for the wealthy companies that can justify plush offices in the Cities while the workers use their precious time to be more productive?
What will workers want from this localised economy (which may even breath new life back into our high streets)? They’ll want a low contact work space – their own keyboards, mice, pens, pencils, seats and desks, so the shared ‘hot desk’ may decline in popularity. We could see the rise of the remote local desk with touchless technology to glide them through every doorway without lifting a finger or touching a surface. Working from home has its own benefits when it comes to social distancing for sure! Resources at these hubs, shared offices or home will need to be robust to ensure that productivity is maintained, so perhaps a boom in IT service providers and online health and safety officers?
Who knows? One thing we do know is that things will never be the same again. Covid-19 has changed the world and the way we in which we interact with it and each other for good.