By Simon Cheshire
I certainly do not miss the daily commute. It is sometimes difficult, many times frustrating and always time consuming. It can also sometimes feel like you are not getting good value for money.
Commuting impacts on productivity and reduces my free time, but there are still some things that I do miss about not being in the office on a more regular basis.
Light and Shade
I miss the “light and shade” of what a regular week feels like. I get a kick out of working but I also love when it is over, and the weekend arrives.
Thursdays were a good day and Fridays even better. There is nothing better than finishing early, toasting or commiserating the week in a local with the team and then heading home. The weekend really means something.
This balance added light and shade to my weeks and a sense of contrast. A lifetime ago I was talking to one of my then team in Perth and I asked what he missed about the UK. His reply was the seasons. I understand it even more now. This for me, is a version of the light and shade I am missing.
Home for me is a counterbalance to work and blurring the lines by working at home too often is not a positive. I like work and I like the light and shade of a week.
The City and Corporate Real Estate
The City was built for business (statement of the bleeding obvious!). The architecture and buzz impresses upon me as I walk up the steps from Bank Station. It has at atmosphere and this helps me get my mind in gear for work. It brings clarity and focus. Your perspectives change when you arrive and for me personally, it’s a feeling I cannot replicate walking into a home office.
Offices have an impact on your motivation. I accept that many people are self-motivated but nothing beats the feeling of walking into an office to plug into a team that are working together towards a goal and sharing wins or losses. It is irreplaceable.
Real time input and team-working
I think MS Teams and Zoom are brilliant and teams can collaborate successfully across wide geographical areas. Video conferencing has come second nature to us due to our regular meetings with our office in Malaysia, and we were able to utilise the technology companywide with little issue.
But when you work remotely for any extended period of time, you lose real time collaboration.
You’re not able to turn to your colleague and ask, “What do you think of this? Do you know anything about this…can you add anything to this, can you give me some thoughts on this….” in real time. Short, sharp two-minute conversations or off the cuff meetings can steer a project, change a plan or improve an outcome. You are a lot less likely to spontaneously call people to ask their opinions, than you would ask for input in an office where it is often second nature to bounce ideas off one another.
Real time collaboration creates “see it, fix it” moments that are lost over distance. You lose the opportunity where two heads are better than one.
At MRG we have been working towards a flexible work pattern for some time and know that this is the way forward. Having said this we also know that the office is irreplaceable. We can zoom/skype/teams/facetime candidates and communicate with one another via video calls. Nothing yet however comes anywhere close to the interaction, sharing, and communication you get from working together in an office.
It is also worth noting that we have always said “we build our strongest relationships face to face”. Buying someone a coffee to pitch, brief, de-brief or close, has to be a primary driver. It is how we win work, deliver the right results, develop strong relationships, and make our money. It is irreplaceable.
Through 2021 and beyond we plan to operate a flexible working pattern with Consultants being in the office for 12 days each month and either visiting clients or working from home on the other days.