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Avoid this pitfall when returning to the office

“A return to normal”, “the new normal”, “A next normal” … sick and tired of it yet?

This is the noise of our industry’s engines turning at full torque - all while attempting to understand the complexity of what lies ahead. What these voices have in common is loads of speculation ending in,
“…of course we can only wait and see what happens…” 

McKinsey (2020) states in their recent survey that “responses to COVID-19 have speeded the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.” 

We do not have to look far to see this impact - just take a look at your own calendar. How many meetings do you have? How many of those are over Teams? How much of your casual coffee machine talk has moved into Teams? How is this working for you?

You can’t drive a car simply by looking in the rearview mirror. Things have changed and the post-covid road lies ahead of us. True, but you wouldn’t merge onto the highway without a glance in the rearview mirror now would you? What Burrowes and Sheppard argue in the latest issue of PWC’s Strategy+Business is something we like to emphasize as well. 

“Now that we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel - the arrival of vaccines that hold out the possibility of resumption of many activities - companies will actually face their biggest test, one that will have implications for decades: Can they avoid reverting their pre-COVID bad habits?” (K Burrowes, B Sheppard, strategy+business Issue 102, Spring 2021)

The core of Humly’s business lies within minimising the friction that physical meetings already impede our worklife with. It has been a long year of complete and radical change. When we come back to the office, we must not forget the core of what used to cause us so much frustration in the physical meeting space. Looking for rooms, rooms being booked but empty. People knocking and asking how long you are going to be in there etc. It is easy to stay in the mindset of the pandemic. But we cannot forget that at the core of physical meetings lies a massive hidden cost. Not only strictly financial but also in terms of annoyance and disturbances in the day to day business. 

Just before the pandemic, our industry spent tons of resources marketing “the disastrous 8-minute delay” that every meeting has in setting up tech, making sure screen sharing works, and all of that jazz. I want to be a bit bold and say that maybe we need those 8-minutes when we get back. We need time for casual chit-chat, the stuff that is hard to reproduce online. The aspects of collaborating physically that we have missed the most. What we do not need is disturbances that make physical meetings less attractive than than online meetings. Because that will make people question why stuff cant just keep being remote all the time. And that is the main topic to tackle as we get more comfortable returning to the office. 

Let the mistakes of the past inform us so that we can adapt in the future. Because no one will yank open a door to a teams meeting and ask how long you are going to be there or if they can have the room now.