Re-Imagining the Workplace in a Post Covid World
In the space of a few short months, the entire concept of ‘going to work’ has been completely upended. Most of us no longer commute to a physical office, or stick to the 9-5 working day. Coffee breaks are now enjoyed from the comfort of your kitchen and everything from board meetings to catching up with colleagues can be managed via voice or video. In some cases, the transition to remote working has been challenging, but for many others, the easy availability of new technology and fast, reliable connectivity solutions have unlocked new levels of flexibility, productivity and collaboration.
Even as global restrictions begin to be eased, many businesses will now be seriously considering whether a return to the traditional 9-5 office is really in their best interests. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look back at some of the biggest changes to the way we work and whether or not they’re here to stay:
1.) Returning to the 9-5 Routine
Even before Covid-19 began, the relevance of a fixed working day was being called into question. When asked, 78%1 of people believed that a flexible working schedule not only made them more productive, but actually increased the overall performance of the company they work for. Flexible working days were becoming the norm, with increasing numbers of people finding that shaping their working day around their families, friends and hobbies made for a much happier, more productive work-life balance.
Whilst working from home full time has its challenges, many have found that the extra hours spent commuting in rush hour or travelling to meetings can actually be put to far better use. Simply getting an hour or two of work in before the kids wake up and then enjoying a much longer, more relaxed evening with the family is a compelling prospect, and one which many will look to continue with, even as offices begin to re-open.
Our Verdict: The 9-5 office work day is on its way out, flexible work days are here to stay for many.
2.) Embracing Digital Collaboration Tools
One of the biggest challenges businesses have faced during the transition to working from home has been how to ensure their people can continue to share, collaborate and work together as effectively as they would be able to in a physical office. Many teams have turned to cloud based tools like Monday, Slack, Office 365 and Google Drive to ensure project management, workflow and collaboration has remained as consistent as possible in the face of significant workplace disruption.
Whilst the Covid-19 crisis has undoubtedly increased short term awareness and usage of collaboration software, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to suggest that it’s the only factor driving small businesses towards this kind of solution. In an interview last month, the GM of Google’s G Suite revealed that they had passed the milestone of 2 billion monthly active users at the end of 2019. These stats show that for thousands of businesses, these kinds of tools were already in use and the shift to working from home simply increased their overall importance and usage in day to day workflows.
Our Verdict: At home or in the office, collaboration software will remain an essential part of any small business’ toolkit.
3.) Making the Switch to Virtual Meetings
Love them or hate them, virtual meetings have become the new normal for almost everyone. Whether it’s on Zoom, Cisco Webex or Microsoft Teams, client introductions, project updates and team meetings are all happening via video, usually with a still from your favourite TV show as the backdrop.
What’s different about this generation of communication apps isn’t just the quality and reliability of the connection they offer, but that they also come equipped with a whole range of collaboration and sharing features. From screen sharing and recording functionality to adding live annotations to documents and presentations, the level of interactivity and potential for team engagement makes these apps a genuinely viable long term alternative to face to face meetings.
Our Verdict: More features, flexibility and better call quality could well make virtual meetings the go-to choice for businesses.
4.) Ensuring Connectivity at Home
As the UK switched to working from home, the country’s network infrastructure was put to the test as average daytime usage during the week began to spike. Some broadband providers reported a 35-60% increase in overall usage, but despite this, Ofcom data2 suggests that speed has remained largely unaffected. For small businesses who had previously relied on a managed service, or business broadband directly to their physical office, the fact most connections remained reliable and stable would have been a huge relief in the short term.
However, as working from home became the norm, it became clear that getting great connectivity wasn’t necessarily something that required people to be in the office. From ultra flexible mobile broadband hubs, to mobile contracts with masses of data, staying connected with colleagues and clients has never been easier. The diversity and availability of great connectivity solutions outside of the office is certainly something that many small businesses will be seriously considering as they plan their connectivity strategies post Covid.
Our Verdict: Businesses will increasingly look to prioritise flexible connectivity solutions as standard.
The Covid-19 crisis has completely changed the way many of us think about our workplaces. In many cases, it’s accelerated the adoption of technology that empowers flexible, remote working and given small businesses plenty of food for thought on how best to promote productivity, collaboration and a healthy work-life balance. Whilst physical offices will undoubtedly still have a role to play, it seems increasingly unlikely that either the way we work, or the connectivity solutions we choose, will ever be the same.
1.‘ Work Life Balance, But Not As You Know It’. - Virgin Media Business, 2019. https://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pdf/Insights%20Guides/work-life-balance-Infographic.pdf
2. ‘Broadband networks stand firm during pandemic’, Ofcom, 13.05.20. - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/broadband-networks-stand-firm-during-pandemic