When I take a step back though, I see that this pandemic has made us realise that not only is flexible working possible, it can be hugely productive. Of course, that can only apply to certain types of business…. as much as we tried to put a brave face on it, a ‘virtual’ drink in the pub, or a wedding celebration on Zoom, just doesn’t cut it.
Reading the mainstream media, much of the focus is on the large corporations and how they will respond to the lifting of restrictions, but it is how local business responds that will have the biggest impact. These businesses are collectively responsible for the majority of working adults, and so how they manage the new environment, how much they embrace our newfound confidence in home working and our reinforced respect for the social aspect of work life will make the difference.
For many towns like Grimsby or Scunthorpe, the challenges facing city centres are less important. The commute to work for example is not a big thing, in fact some might call the 10 to 15-minute journey quite pleasant! A lot of local companies have small teams who actually love working together. They enjoy Monday morning catch ups, impromptu corridor conversation to solve a new problem, a quick coffee with a new customer, or a drink after work with colleagues. We can all agree that 100% working from home is not the answer for most, but neither is a return to the way it used to be… the world has moved on.
Things have changed, and I think for the better when it comes to opportunity for flexibility, work life balance and productivity. But there is no one solution fits all. So as we dust off the desk, throw away the sandwich that was left half eaten in March 2020, bid a fond farewell to the dog/cat/tortoise/lizard that will mourn your absence for at least 10 minutes, we should turn our attention to talking to our teams, (The people not the video software!), and decide how we can review and adapt our ways of working to make sure our customers, our employees and therefore our businesses, will benefit and grow in the new reality we are now stepping into.