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The future of remote working: will we miss it and is it here to stay?

By Paul Williams, Director

Who would have thought that it would take a global pandemic to change the universal opinion on remote working for the better? And how did we cope without Microsoft Teams before?

Although I’ve worked in the technology industry for most of my working life, I’m still genuinely impressed by how the technology we have at our fingertips has allowed us to continue to do business, despite the disaster we’re all working through globally.

I’ve seen system users who have vehemently denied being able to efficiently work from home comfortably making the commute downstairs to work and now embracing the technology and tools that have always been available to them. It’s sometimes been a culture which has held us back.

Of course, for many industries out there, working from home comes with its own challenges and sometimes can’t be sustainable long term but for others, I expect we’ll begin to see a lot more of this when it’s all over. 

I know, from my own experiences during this time, that many of the anxieties that were initially surrounding remote working have been alleviated. People are more confident and comfortable hosting a meeting using their webcam, and the everyday interruptions of home working life are no longer a hindrance to ourselves and each other.

The lines between work and home life are blurred – but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

It’s been so refreshing to see people becoming much more accepting, patient and understanding when it comes to the business world, and I for one would like to see this mentality continue.

We are fortunate to have such innovative and seamless technology at our fingertips that has allowed us to confidently transition into our new lives and I think many people will come to prefer the convenience of a quick video conference over finding time in various diaries for in-person meetings.

What is interesting, however, is how video and collaborative working platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams (that have always been there in the background!), are now at the forefront of our everyday lives. They are becoming as much a part of our working life as the need for a coffee when you get into the office; many people will be coming to wonder how they ever coped without them.

Have most of us now become more accustomed to this new lifestyle than we thought we would?

Of course, I can’t speak for everyone as I write this, but I have found many people to actually enjoy working from home now. And if they aren’t enjoying it, they are certainly finding it more manageable than they perhaps ever believed possible. The concept of office space is fast becoming something of a luxury, and it will be interesting to see how attitudes towards this change over the coming months. 

I think I speak for most people when I say that I’m sure the transition back into office working will be tricky to navigate. The hustle and bustle of an open-plan office; the distraction of 5-minute tea break or the sound of individual telephone conversations are things most of us haven’t been exposed to over the last six weeks. (And I’m sure it’ll surprise most people just how much we notice it when we return.)

Instead, we’ve enjoyed having more time for the kids and our families and just an overall more flexible lifestyle – all whilst still being fully contactable and productive from the comfort (office chair depending!) of our own homes.

Has this brought change for the better?

This has been a culture-changing experience for so many reasons, not least our realisation as a country that we can do business remotely, whilst polluting less and giving more time to ourselves and our families.

If I was a betting man, I’d put money on pretty much everyone of working age clocking up fewer business miles and more virtual meeting minutes in 2021 than they did in 2019 as a result of this experience.

The forced transition to effectively use this technology has been dramatic over the last few weeks and will continue to be so for some time, in my opinion. We’re just simply not afraid to turn our cameras on anymore – and get things done! 

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