A large percentage of the UK workforce has worked from home for the last few months, including many of our own team members at the 3M BIC. Being away from colleagues has made people realise what they miss about working from the office, from the social aspect to being able to bounce ideas off each other.
Here are the 4 things we have missed as a team during lockdown.
- Informal Conversations
The so-called ‘water cooler’ conversations, an emblem of work/social life, have been one of the chief casualties of lockdown life. Whilst we have attempted to re-create the opportunity for informal chat through daily all-team emails and weekly zoom socials, these have dwindled in popularity over time and are no substitute for the spontaneous team chat which happens in the natural hubbub of a busy office.
A team which is already well-bonded has enough shared ‘cultural glue’ in the tank to see it through the enforced distance of WFH, as people adopt informal channels including WhatsApp, Slack and so on, to keep the casual lines of communication open, whether for sharing jokes or to simply take care of one another in difficult times.
It is really hard, however, to bring new staff on board when this is the default mode of working – the osmosis effect of both learning the trade and absorbing the company values from an open-plan office cannot be underestimated.
Gossip is another casualty of WFH, which can be a good thing in reducing distracting rumours and may explain the increase in productivity at home! The upside of ‘grapevine chat’ is the informal intelligence on customer leads, random ideas for new initiatives, competitor news and informal signals from staff as to their mental health and well-being that can otherwise be missed and go unrecognised.
The other related casualty has been the lack of the ‘buzz’ of a thriving business – the excitement of celebrating shared successes and the commiseration of shared losses all feed that elusive intangible feeling of being part of a winning team.
As a centre which thrives on a lively mix of business tenants, a regular bunch of student entrepreneurs based in our Enterprise Hub and a regular flow of conference and events visitors, we have definitely missed the sparky atmosphere of a full centre with people exchanging ideas, contacts and learning from each other.
We are looking forward to opening up our shared spaces and meeting rooms once more when Government restrictions ease, as this is the lifeblood of an Innovation Centre, as it is for any people-based business.
- Decent Broadband
We have heard so many of our tenants citing ‘decent broadband’ as an important pull-factor in enticing them back into the office, even when they enjoy the freedom of remote working. The frustrations of a dodgy or shared connection have plagued a number of people, especially those who live in rural areas, which may be compounded by limited access to core company systems which are so much easier to access directly in the office.
- Moving Around
A side-effect of remote working has been that many of us spend our day glued to our home-office chair, so have missed the natural in-built exercise of walking around the building or going out for meetings, keeping us fit and active.
Some have sensibly adopted their daily exercise outing with relish, as a counterbalance to this. The step-counters reveal the harsh truth of how sedentary WFH can be, reducing our fitness and general perkiness, as well as cutting out the casual ‘corridor chats’ which foster good relationships and spark new ideas with colleagues.
To hear more about our key insights during the Covid-19 lockdown, check out our Lockdown Lessons series here.