7 Aug 2020 Andrew Spicer
I wrote in my last blog of our return to “normal” as New Zealand relaxed its COVID-19 lockdown and allowed us all to return to life, work and even more essential for many, sport! The way a high percentage of people are now working has most definitely changed, with remote and flexible working arrangements being more noticeable whenever I am speaking with clients, partners or suppliers. This new flexible normal looks set to stay for the foreseeable future, hopefully out of choice and not due to a second COVID wave forcing us back into lockdown.
For us at Realtech, we have continued to work flexibly, although we have encouraged all of the team to use the office on Tuesday and Thursday as collaboration days. For me, it is noticeable that when people are together the amount of spontaneous collaboration and helping each other with even small aspects of work, seems to be higher than when everyone is working remotely and engaging only via the digital collaboration platforms. Of course, this may also be that the level of digital collaboration is not visible to me, in the same way as looking across the office and seeing people grouped to work out solutions. I do not have any metrics to prove this; it just an instinct and may be due to it being such an unfamiliar way of working (something for me personally to get used to). It makes me wonder if this may also be a reason that is driving the pace of business recovery since the lockdown.
The forecast indicated that when we went into the lockdown that business stopped or at least slowed and that projects would also stop. Since moving to Level 1, plans have been slow to restart and in some cases not even been put back on the list. It is entirely understandable that business and individuals remain nervous about the short and long term impact of COVID-19 and what this means for earnings and growth. So it is entirely natural, but I can’t help wonder if they are taking even longer to move up the ramp due to this new “normal” way of working.
Could it be that the change to how we are working is also impacting how quickly the confidence in business is returning? If it does, then this may also be a direct correlation to the speed at which business and projects for all organisations are returning toward pre-pandemic levels.
What I believe is, this indicates that we need to get the right balance between distributed working and being together for true collaboration. Combined with the fact that some are still getting used to digital collaboration, we are still some way from it becoming 2nd nature. Until we achieve this, we will have to work within the knowledge that some things may take slightly longer than they did, including the length of the ramp for business confidence/recovery and projects to restart.