Whilst speaking with leaders of the industry I serve, listening to the numerous reports pushed out by news outlets and even within the four walls here at Collingwood, returning to the office is certainty a divisive subject.
My own view, for what it's worth, is mixed on the subject. I feel that certain tasks are better performed with no distractions and, over the past year, this has very much proven to be the case. However, clearly, collaboration on certain projects is key.
Last week highlighted to me how valuable face-to-face time with clients is. I held three client meetings at their offices, all of which yielded benefit over a virtual alternative:
- Due to sustained growth, one building material manufacturing client is looking to invest in a brand new function to their board. This meeting led to a four-way debate about the best way of shaping the brief and the potential limitations. This included a lot of information sharing. All parties agreed that this was a very productive couple of hours that wouldn't have worked virtually
- I then travelled to a family owned construction contractor, whose business had been established in the 1970's. Cultural fit was hugely important to them in the person they wished to invest in. This meeting lasted three hours and included five stakeholders at their head office. I wouldn't have got the same feel for them over Teams
- Finally, I meet with a director of a building product distributor who was looking to recruit a Regional Director for a problem area. I met this director on patch, spending a couple of hours at the branches the recruit would manage. Without physically witnessing the sites I wouldn't have got the feel for the individual nuisances and cultural fit required
And so this has led me to the conclusion, certain mundane tasks will continue to be completed in my back bedroom, with my music pumping out. Where possible, I will be making myself as available because you just can't get that human connect virtually.
Almost all of 50 of the UK's biggest employers questioned by the BBC have said they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time. Some 43 of the firms said they would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week. Four firms said they were keeping the idea of hybrid working, working from home some of the time, under review.