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
- Ministers urged to give UK home-workers a ‘right to disconnect’ – a reflection on how many of us have found remote working ‘more productive’ or even ‘relentless’
- A third of UK households to move home as COVID-19 set to change where Britons live – Remote working is embedding structurally into the economy.
- The Plan to Give Android Users Their Own Version of iMessage Is Officially Dead – changes in communications, more influence for Whatsapp (and Signal?)
- Microsoft makes $20bn bet on speech AI firm Nuance – Speech is not going anywhere, it is increasingly hitting the big time.
Have a good weekend everyone…