As the world starts to vaccinate as many people as it can to help curb the continued spread of covid businesses around the world and across all sectors are starting to plan for when countries begin to ease lockdown measures.
Inevitably one of the conversations, which comes to the forefront as the above happens, is regarding what businesses do when it comes to their traditionally office-based employees.
Throughout lockdown and across the world plenty of discussions have taken place on the merits of working from home, the benefits of being in an office environment and the type of policy companies should employ going forwards. There are compelling arguments to be made for both camps, but as we mentioned a few weeks ago it’s all about actions rather words.
Back in May last year Twitter was the first of the big ad companies to tell the world its staff could work from home even when lockdown restrictions have been relaxed and the pandemic is under control, while this week Spotify has dominated the news having taken the plunge and decided to do something similar.
It’s not hugely surprising as the world – and particularly those of us lucky enough to work in the advertising and media sector – has developed and adopted systems and work spaces conducive to being productive. There are other industries where working from home – even though not necessarily essential – has forced its office staff to come into their usual workplaces, more through rigid tradition than anything else.
As someone who thrives on being inspired by people and even the commute – whether driving, cycling or taking the tube – I found it particularly hard to adapt to working from home and as all parents will tell you trying to work and home school is a challenge both logistically and mentally. However, even I have got used to being able to act like my children and head to the snack cupboard at any given moment, but that said I am still missing interaction in real life with people, other than my wife, over the age of eight…
On a serious note, it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts when it comes to working practices once lockdowns are lifted and a sense of new normality can resume. To be honest I was initially shocked at the number of industry firms who didn’t employ a flexible working strategy before the pandemic and know quite a few people who were actually relieved to be furloughed or made redundant over the last 12 months as their companies were so inflexible.
There is nothing quite like the in-person experience, which cannot be replicated in a virtual world on a permanent basis, but equally we all lead busy lives and having flexibility, being happy and feeling good contributes to greater productivity. Similarly, to events I believe there will be a balance between the office and remote working, particularly in an industry which is still built on relationships. In an ideal scenario ad world would become more agile and look for staff to come together for a number of days a week and then work remotely for the rest.
The world was beginning to change before the pandemic hit and it has only accelerated this transformation, which in the long term I believe will be better for society.
Whatever happens it will be an interesting watch, particularly if other media behemoths follow Twitter and Spotify and make such grand gestures.