The Great Working from Home Experiment

Is your team working from home out of necessity or choice?  At Conficio we enabled the team to work remotely from the get-go, because, let’s face it, this is the future. Or indeed, the present! With a world pandemic and many countries going into lockdown, many businesses are struggling because they don’t have the capacity or means to adapt quickly enough; the world of technical capability can’t save us all, as it turns out.

Meanwhile, many other businesses are swiftly making the change, adapting to a remote working set ups, and god forbid, actually trusting their teams to do a great job without looking over their shoulder! There are so many considerations which will suddenly become apparent to many-a-business during these times. Not only will we, as a species, realise how reliant on consumerism we have become, but hopefully we will rediscover and appreciate some of the simpler things in life. At this rate, we will likely find that we are able to operate, in many cases, more effectively and efficiently than BC (Before Coronavirus), even with fewer of the processes and familiarities in place that we previously had been trained to believe were necessary.

The benefits could be significant; imagine the cost savings if businesses, who could, made the long-term switch to champion working from home and became a lot less reliant on a physical office space. What is it all for anyway? What do you use your office for? Even though we promote flexible, remote working, the office is one of our biggest marketing assets – quite often it’s ‘where the magic happens’ and is often part of what can really close a deal with a client; they like to see the bricks and mortar as evidence that the company exists and get to witness the work happening. But in the future will potential clients be less bothered about the physical presence of a business and virtual meetings become more normal? Why not? It is happening right now, from our desks at home.

We’re often led to believe we are more effective and less distracted in the office, but is this always true? Hands up if you’re more effective right now, working remotely? Sure, right now we may be slightly too overwhelmed with little or no childcare and none of the usual additional support to reach out to around us for dog walking, house cleaning or other luxuries we previously thought we couldn’t live without. But is it really a negative to not be going into the office? Businesses, if they worked on more of a remote basis could stand to save on the costs of running and upkeep of offices, and could invest that money back into further training or personal development for their teams, or even become more appealing to clients by reducing costs. Is it a coincidence that co-working spaces has become so popular in recent times? Probably not!

And whilst we appreciate that this is certainly not going to be the case for everyone, many will find that the savings on time used travelling to and from the office, clients, etc., is allowing them far more quality time with family, pets, friends (ok remotely right now), gardening, exercise, gaming, travel, DIY, online shopping, whatever your thing is. Ultimately will this lockdown provide a better work life balance, and even an improved sense of wellbeing when it comes to both the mind and the body? Will we want to give this up? Has anyone else noticed the nation taking to dog walking and exercise a little more rigorously than before? Not to mention the lack of availability of DIY supplies. It turns out fencing, paint and garden paraphernalia is an essential after all and, we can be bloomin’ effective in more areas of our lives when we just get given a bit of a break and a bit more balance!

Since 2015, Anna Whitehouse, perhaps better known as Mother Pukka, has been leading the way for flexible working for all with her Flex Appeal campaign for these very reasons; so far Whitehouse has been a huge success, even getting flex on the table in parliament. Whilst flexible working has been thrust upon us by force, if Covid-19 can teach us anything, it’s that surely we don’t really need parliament to determine that flexible working has its place in our red taped, micro managed, process driven world. You just simply, start allowing flexibility and get ready to see an increase in productivity and profitability!

It could be as simple as creating a guide to working from home, or an informal agreement between management and team, that sets out the commitments you plan to make when working from home, in order to feel that all involved understand the deal. We quite enjoyed this piece on LinkedIn from Julian Hearn, Founder of Huel, on his top tips for making working from home a success.

So how might our working style change PC (Post Corona)? Will our offices become that of the former-perceived future? And what is that anyway? With automation, big data, the Internet of Things and technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality and the suchlike already becoming part of today’s businesses, how will the future look? What is next? When considering technological advances, back in 2019, Salesforce Founder and Co-CEO Marc Benioff told the World Economic Forum (cited in Metro online) that he predicted a “crisis of trust in technology”. He observed how the 4th Industrial Revolution has been all about taking humans out of the workplace but went on to state that he feels the 5th Industrial Revolution will be more about helping humans and technology work better together. Benioff predicted that there will be the potential need for a Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer to help rebuild trust between human and machine, which he felt, in the 5th Industrial Revolution would be tested.

What does that mean for the workplace in its physical form? With team members communicating, sharing work, attending meetings, training, and more besides all online, will the office in its physical form become simply a hub? Perhaps the co-working space of today will become tomorrow’s office as a centralised space to gather, reconnect and align? Or maybe it’s the go-to location for client meetings? Or perhaps it’s quite simply business-fluid.

Whatever the future holds for the office, stay safe, wash your hands and we’ll see you on the flipside!

Team Conficio.

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