Prior to the pandemic, some may have floated the idea of running a remote working programme; but for the vast majority of us, the idea itself would have been deemed far-fetched – and yet, here we are. Nearly a year and a half later, and the Work From Home experiment is now fully-fledged. No longer a concept, but today’s reality.
As we look towards the future and an easing of lockdown regulations, there is an ongoing debate on the best way forward. Is it full-time remote working? A hybrid approach? Or a return to the way things were pre-pandemic? I’ve seen countless polls circulating LinkedIn, news of giant tech companies committing to the remote working approach, whilst financial leviathans hold their ground on the contrary.
In August of last year, the Eskenzi team conducted a survey of 1,000 UK employees to gauge their feelings towards the eventual return to the office. The majority (49%) opted for a hybrid approach, preferring to work remotely 2-3 days a week. Eighteen percent admitted that they would prefer to work remotely every working day, versus almost 9% of respondents who shared that they would like to work remotely less often than weekly or never.
Personally, my introverted self has been leaning towards the former – full-time remote working. I love that my commute is a short 30-second walk down the stairs, as opposed to an hour and a half running to catch an early train, jostling into a crowd like sardines in a tin can. I love having the freedom to transition to my couch come time for writing – typing away on an article, press release, or case study, with some scented candles flickering on the side, and quiet but for the occasional ding of an incoming email. I love the costs I’ve saved from having a homemade sandwich or bowl of pasta at lunch.
But what I’ve failed to remember is how great it is to actually, physically sit down opposite colleagues and swap out curt messages on Teams for a good old face-to-face conversation. I forgot how nice it is to swivel my chair and ask for some help, there and then. I also forgot how fun it is to brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other without the distraction of news alerts and emails.
Then again, I did only spend about a month in the office before the pandemic properly kicked off and we were all sent home, so maybe it’s not a surprise that I forgot. Fortunately, I’ve always done well working independently and I lucked out with Eskenzi because the team is nothing short of supportive and encouraging. I could pick up the phone to any one of them, at any time, and they would be there to help. We also have daily team meetings to check in on everyone’s workloads, to discuss new ideas and get some advice. In this way, I didn’t feel my working experience nor relationships were compromised in any way.
That was until two weeks ago, when the team decided it was time to meet up for an off-site day and get our creative juices flowing again.
We each did a rapid lateral flow test (health and safety comes first!) and made our way to Yvonne and Neil’s home. We then spent the day catching up and brainstorming, with teas, coffees and eventually pints of beer. I left home at 8am and didn’t get back until around 10pm!
We spoke about the changing nature of media and drummed up ways to stay ahead of the game. We discussed the rise in ransomware attacks and an urgent need to help organisations, those at risk and affected. Let’s just say, we have a lot of exciting plans in store.
We also got to physically meet one of our colleagues for the first time!
The whole experience was somewhat surreal. Despite talking to each other almost every day, it was a nice change to get out from behind our computer screens. So maybe the 49% are on to something here with this hybrid approach…And maybe, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the office either!
Being unconventional might just be the new normal and the ideal way to extract ourselves from the day-to-day to think up our best ideas. In other words, let’s have more brainstorms in the park, meetings at the pub and team-building getaways!