13th March. A date etched in my memory. Not because it’s a birthday or anniversary. Rather, it is the last date I found myself in an indoor space with hundreds of other people for my son’s school assembly. Fast-forward six months and for many of us crowded spaces, and even offices, seem like a distant memory.
As we’ve been fast-tracked into home-based working, what we used to speak of as the ‘future of work’ has now become our everyday life. Video calls, collaboration platforms and stable WiFi connections are all many of us now need to work productively. According to research from Deloitte, one in four office-workers in the UK said that lockdown had a positive impact on their wellbeing – with workers finding more time on their hands to do the things they want to do such as reading, gardening and spending more time with their families.
However, many workers, particularly those new to organisations, have missed collaborating with their teams in an office and the teamwork and creativity this fosters. To counter this, I’ve got to grips with three key lessons:
1. We’re all human: Working remotely using video calls has given us a window into our colleagues’ home lives – whether that is through discussing the pictures hanging in their background, to interruptions by family members and pets. Taking the time to learn more about our colleagues is important at a time when many have felt isolated. Even at the busiest times, a short call to catch-up with a colleague can make all the difference. At Deloitte, we’ve introduced new initiatives, including a virtual Coffee Club, aimed at connecting people across the company at a time when we are working individually.
2. Working from home is here to stay: According to Deloitte research of people in the UK working from home during lockdown 54 percent said they would like to work from home more often once restrictions were fully lifted. Just one in 10 said they planned to work from home less often than they did before lockdown. That’s not to say that offices are a thing of the past – they will still be a valuable base for teams to meet, aiding collaboration, creativity and camaraderie.
3. But it won’t be for everyone: A lack of space, childcare and face-to-face interaction has made working from home a significant challenge for some, impacting health and wellbeing. Remote working is not for everyone. Offices will remain vital spaces for social interaction, collaboration and desk space for those who cannot work from home.
The future of work is here. What we must do now is take time to understand what this means for how we connect across teams and organisations to ensure that we continue to work in a productive, creative and collaborative way.