Office Cakeism

Increasingly there are discussions taking place not just about when to return to working in an office environment, but how.

Which meetings, how to structure these for a blended remote/office environment, how exactly is all this going to work? It does seem we want to work remotely with the benefits of being in the office or be in the office with the benefits of working remotely.

… I cannot be in two places at the same time

The consensus seems to be on a Q3 return, although some firms are clearly keener than others to push towards a full return to physical office presence. However overall it seems like we will eventually evolve to some sort of blended approach, offering cost and productivity savings in many lines of work with some of the flexibility associated with remote working.

There is of course still plenty to think through. Considerations to ensure the office environment is safe, what the commute is like, how essential the physical presence is, and of course whether there is mutual agreement with the employee to return, are all important.

The last of these, of course, is a potential future sticking point. It will quickly involve HR law and changing government regulations, whether employees have had a vaccine or not, and the current pandemic status. It could all get messy quickly, especially if the essential nature of attendance differs between employee and employer

With a greater understanding of the virus and transmission, there is also now some good thinking on the effectiveness of various methods to keep an environment safe. Reducing cases in the general population (vaccines), less people in the office (remote working) and ventilation are all most effective. Plexiglass screens, wiping surfaces and anything that requires behavioural change much less so.

Many employees however are clearly still nervous, but against a background of lower recognition and increasing surveillance, there clearly is some pressure for future change.

Economic green shoots

In other news, the current trend for COVID cases in the UK continues to look increasingly positive and with retail beginning to reopen, it seems like we are making the most of it.

Despite a wave of optimism we need to also remember there is still a significant population within the economy that is struggling. It is not necessarily seen in recent economic, nor arrears numbers, due to government support.

A recent study points towards this and how government support has simply kicked many of these issues down the road. Like the tide going out, the fear is it will return, with the concern being what it will look like when it does.

Many fingers are crossed that the economic bounce is enough to offset any decline.

For now, though, the shops are full(er), the sun is shining and things are looking up. It is time to get out, about, and enjoy the arrival of spring I think.

Other key stories

Have a good weekend everyone…

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A long time ago, in a galaxy not far away…

With this week being largely vacation the pace of life slowed somewhat.

My cat for one seemed to notice, or at least I noticed back. It seemly spent the week practicing Jedi mind stares on me for food and treats… believe me the force is strong in that one!

From tomorrow, lockdown ends here (again), with the shops, and seemingly importantly the hairdressers/barbers, re-opening.

In England at least it will have been over 90 days since everything closed. It is actually longer than the 80 days of the first lockdown. However, despite some extremely bad hair days, it just hasn’t had the drama of the first time around. Isn’t it amazing quickly we adjust and adapt?

Workwise with many folks back at work after Easter together with a feeling of turning a corner, I suspect it will be busier this week.

It may not be a jump to hyperspace, but progress will hopefully now accelerate again towards the summer.

Have a good week everyone…

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Vacationing at home…

With 2 back-to-back bank holidays in the UK, normally at this time of year, many of us would be off to sunnier climes, on vacation.

Last year, of course, was different, we were in full lockdown and at this moment in the midst of a full-blown toilet paper crisis… there were just more pressing issues than taking some time off.

This year, however, with better numbers, and plenty of holidays carried forward, it is a different story and this week many people seemed to be off work. Emails were quiet, only a few meetings and certainly less deadline pressure.

It was as if we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and took a few days off. But, with shops shut, no travel and activities still limited, we have all still been at home… just in a different room, if we have one.

Logged off but logging in

As a result, it has been really hard not to check in on emails, just to see what was going on. It was as if the work-life balance simply shifted to be more life than work for a bit.

Maybe with remote working looking increasingly like it is here to stay, this is also what the future of time off it going to look like? We will see.

Historical Acceleration

My other task this week has been a bit of digital spring cleaning. This has involved the tidying up of my bookmark list, moving old stories into an archive, organizing the digital detritus.

Seemingly a chore (I have been putting it off), in fact it has been an interesting journey down memory lane, looking at the stories and concerns, pre-COVID, pre-Brexit, even pre-GDPR, PSD2 and IFRS9.

One of my favorite, a report on the impact of remote working… something we all wonder a little less about these days!

A bit of historical perspective can always be interesting, especially on reflection. Will the stories that seem so important today be important in 5 years’ time too, will predictions be accurate or what will be then important…. who remembers BBM… who misses it? It is amazing how quickly things change these days.

There is still another week of vacation to go, only as far back as 2016… pre 2010 still to go. Expecting it to be busier too!

Some other stories of note this week.

Have a good weekend everyone…

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