It’s been a year now since we entered an unprecedented global health situation. The Covid-19 crisis has not just forced us to reconsider things we took for granted; it has highlighted our capacity to adapt. Faced with lockdown measures and travel restrictions, many companies have had to rethink their day-to-day business and take advantage of the possibilities offered by digital technology to enable teleworking and so ensure business continuity.
In interviewing professionals, from a technical point of view, it seems to have been relatively easy to create a remote working environment. This is thanks to cloud-based services already being adopted by companies long before the crisis, as well as videoconferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom and so on which allow new (virtual) formats for meetings, conferences, events and the like.
But the transition to teleworking brings its own set of challenges that employers need to bear in mind. As well as the fear of isolation, of being apart from colleagues and management, some employees have had to find a healthy balance between private and professional life. Maintaining motivation, staying on task, or ending the working day at a reasonable time are just some of the difficulties that have been encountered.
The fact that many sectors of the economy have now been working remotely for a whole year has surprised many people. But teleworking is no longer surprising, and certainly not doomed to failure. We believe it is set to stand the test of time and alter, or at least evolve, certain professional habits.
At 514 Media, we were used to working remotely long before the crisis. In fact, many London-based communications agencies offer this opportunity to their staff one or two days a week. We see this as an advantage and, along with personal working time arrangements, it demonstrates the flexibility of the company.
Our policy is based on trust. It is important to allow employees to organise their daily routine and to provide them with the right tools to get the job done. But it’s also vital to encourage interaction between team members and to maintain those vital social links through calls, virtual lunches and so on.
Overall, it was not difficult for our team to adapt to the “new normal” because we had already adopted many of these practices well before the crisis.
We try to see every event as an opportunity. The most difficult thing for me was certainly the creation of a dedicated workspace, and being able to draw the line between work and private space. However, the elimination of the daily commute and the cost of the office is a significant advantage, and this is set to appeal to many based in large cities.