On average, 25 hours of my working week is spent sitting in my car. I call it my mobile office. It is where I conduct phone calls with clients and work colleagues. I also listen to the radio for news and indulge in sports and crime podcasts and I enjoy a cup of coffee or tea (that is what the cup holders are for) and the occasional sweet treat from Greggs. (Other sweet treat providers are available.)
7 and half hours of the week are spent in client’s offices where we conduct meetings, drink more tea and coffee, the odd biscuit perhaps, and the rest of the week, usually a Monday and Friday are spent in the office, drinking tea and coffee and discussing work issues with colleagues.
So as you can see, a significant amount of time during the working week is spent drinking tea and coffee.
The impact of the Coronavirus (SARS Covid-19 to give it is proper title) or its cockney rhyming slang, Miley (as in Miley Cyrus) could potentially have a dramatic effect on the way business is conducted in the future.
Since Monday 23rd March, our office staff have all been working from home. With barely 24 hours notice, our IT department scrambled to provide up to 30 staff with an IT infrastructure that was not only able to be worked on remotely but one that could actually be worked on. Remotely. And so 2 weeks into our isolation, individually working from home, I would actually argue that we’ve never felt more connected. Both with clients and with co-workers.
Utilising video conferencing platforms and messaging chat interfaces, with access to all manner of humorous gifs and emojis, there has been a real spirit of team unity and togetherness that isn’t always evident when you are sitting in the same building.
Our clients too, the majority of whom are working from home, have embraced this new format of communication which might have been unthinkable only 3 months ago. By Zooming into their lounge, kitchen or even bedroom, they have invited us into their lives in a way that would never have been possible before. I’ve met Jinksy the petulant persian cat, Buster the barking bulldog, even a parrot called Bingo who blurts out ‘Bingo’ when you call its name. This new bond with clients and staff has enabled us to communicate on another level. A more human and sympathetic level as we all share and live the same experience from this unprecedented event.
The social distancing has led us to change the way we interact with others. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be inviting staff, clients, industry professionals, even twitter to register and log into our webinars on various subjects. Structural testing, 18thedition wiring regulations, cable faults, ICP’s and EV charging to name a few are all areas where we can share our expertise and knowledge and users, can earn CPD (Continuing Professional Developments) certificates. This method of engagement would not have been considered previously and thanks to technology and our desire to engage with our clients we can continue to be open for business while those around us are shutting down.
And so what about the future, when its all over? Do we just return to the way things were? Scholars and futurologists suggest that our adaption to working from home will lead to a mass change in working practises. Large commercial properties for example will no longer be required to house businesses who have opted to reduce costs and improve their staff’s work life balance by letting them work from home. Roads and trains will become quieter. Our carbon footprint will reduce. Working hours will become staggered as families spend more quality time together, allowing the working day to be more fragmented but more productive too. A more engaged worker when it is time to work, with less distraction, less tiredness and a better output.
But what about me? My working week has always revolved around the face towards face engagement that is centuries old in the practise of sales and relationship management and for me, and my sales colleagues, I believe it will again. Yes, the future will involve many more internet based video run-ins with Jinksy, Buster and Bingo and there will be a better work life balance as we spend less time on the road.
But we will still be in the car from time to time.
Visiting clients. Shaking hands and conducting business. Knocking back the miles, listening to the radio and the podcasts, eating the sweet treats and drinking the coffee. After all, what else are the cup holders for.