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Necessity is the mother of invention

Pete Skeffington re-surfaces the blog he wrote on remote working two years ago and positions it in the context of todays Coronavirus world.

I wrote this blog in July 2018 after Time Technology had been operating a remote working model for our team for a while. At the time our decision to adopt this model was driven around a number of key factors:

  • Some of our team members were spending north of 2 hours a day in a car in order to work from the office. This seemed crazy when they could be using this time to get ready for a productive day or de-stressing from a busy day before spending time with their family.
  • Requiring the team to come to the office every day put pressures on their home life. All of our team have young kids (except me – I’m the old guy!), and with their partners also working, the team were having to juggle personal pulls with time in the office.
  • Finally, money. When we analysed how much of the office time was spent in activities that would be hard to replicate in a remote model, the cost of rent for the company and travel for the team just didn’t stack up. We concluded that organising face to face sessions once or twice a month was a much more cost effective approach. 

Obviously, with the outbreak of Coronavirus, almost every business has been forced into a remote working model. For us it was largely business as usual, but a good friend of mine who runs a publicly quoted business, told me that his eyes have been opened to the possibilities that this has presented. Firstly, the process of re-locating people to their homes that in normal times would have been considered lengthy and expensive, was achieved in a matter of weeks. Secondly, like so many other businesses, they have adapted and innovated very quickly so as to remain effective in this new model. For us, the rise in remote working has meant many people sharing different ways of doing this successfully and we’ve listened, learnt and made some changes.

When this is all over, we will remain a remote working business, but those improvements and new techniques that we have picked up over the last few months, specifically around making teams feel more connected, are here to stay. One of my favourites is our open company Zoom ‘meetings’ at times of the day where people typically gather in the office kitchen or dining room. Anyone can just jump in to chat about what’s going on with their day, share a problem or whatever’s on their mind.

Without doubt, the traditional office model has changed forever for a lot of businesses. It’s going to be fascinating to see what the commercial landlords do to entice businesses to use their spaces. I have to imagine that there will more variations of the WeWork/Regus models appearing, enabling business teams to physically connect every now and then while spending the majority of their time at home. We look forward to these models emerging in smaller towns and cities outside of London so that we can leverage them.

As our focus is on working with Non-Profits/Charities, the landscape for them in the future will also be interesting to watch. They already have a lot of people that work remotely, but given the intense emotional drain of some of the work of their team members, the lack of in person contact must have weighed heavily on some people. I am sure they have been working on solutions to minimise the impact of this and they will clearly need to find the right balance in the ‘new normal’ world. Our work will continue to support this, specifically with Salesforce solutions that can help them connect whilst working remotely.

At the end of the day, necessity really is the mother of invention.

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