27 March, 2020
Many of us are struggling to maintain a positive outlook in the face of a tidal wave of relentlessly grim news. For those of us fortunate enough to still have work to do, work is a welcome respite. But the way we work is subject to a massive and unprecedented shift that even in much more benign times would take some getting used to.
Remote working brings a host of benefits: reduced environmental and financial cost, more time to spend with family (in some cases, perhaps too much…) and a better understanding of each other’s lives beyond the office walls. Where years of campaigning failed, the coronavirus seems to have succeeded in a matter of weeks.
But will this ‘new normal’, so quickly and definitively implemented, last beyond the current crisis? Some are convinced the behaviour change will stick – but we think this is far from inevitable. In part, that’s because we’ve become more aware than ever of what is lost when we can’t connect and collaborate face-to-face – both in terms of productivity and wellbeing. And this very willingness to work together and share resources, essential for transitioning to a low-carbon economy, is impossible when we’re all housebound.
So how can progressive employers ensure we retain the benefits of home working after this crisis is over, whilst still coming together when it matters? We think the first step is to build on this new, more human working style and begin an open conversation about what of this ‘new normal’ we should seek to maintain. With luck, we might begin to glean some method from this madness.