By Damian Stancombe, Partner at Barnett Waddingham
In my recent Q&A I touched on the pandemic and its impact on working practices, noting that “there’s already been a strong, continual push for greater work flexibility, moving away from traditional working practices; i.e. working from an office. The coronavirus outbreak has simply fast-forwarded that trend.”
Organisations will need to accept this new reality of greater flexibility and commute-free lifestyle. That means they will need to adapt in how they engage with their remoter workforce as I suspect it will be hard to put the genie back in the bottle.
Recently, I’ve not only learnt new words like ‘social distancing’ and ‘furlough’ but I’m also embracing new technology like Zoom and Houseparty. Ironically, I‘ve probably ‘seen’ more of my team in two weeks than the previous two years and got to know about them more.
Remoteness is, of course, not new. Barnett Waddingham, for example, grew from four people around one table to over 1,200 employees in eight offices. We’ve had to deal with becoming more remote from each other. Of course, physical line management has also helped, along with office space design and the right messages to employees.
Being physically remote from the workplace may well present other challenges. It adds to issues such as risk mitigation, training and development, health and safety, let alone ensuring productivity levels don’t fall off a cliff.
Let’s look at what has already thrived in remoteness to the detriment of the physical. One only needs to look at the deserted high streets to know that retail is a prime example. Just think of the cost savings you would make by reducing the expense of physical space, as in retail, even with the extra cost of communication.
Communication is indeed very important for remote working. You need to have engaging, interactive communication with individuals and teams to ensure that business objectives and priorities are met.
One approach is to think about communication with employees in the same way you think about communication with retail consumers. Employees are in fact ‘consumers’ and so the same rules apply, perhaps even more so in the ‘new world’ of remote working.
- People reflect a simple but strong corporate brand and purpose (less is more)
- We are driven by experience and feeling good
- We love reward and recognition
However, there are some important considerations.
- Communication should not be intrusive; I may work from home but I don’t want my work to be my home
- Messages should be across multimedia and deliver an engaging user experience
- There needs to be the opportunity for some form of physical interaction; we remain social animals (such as we find in Apple stores)
This is something that DrumRoll has talked consistently about over the last two years. I think the time is now for others to see why.
The alternative is to become outdated, like one of the many dying High Street brands. In failing to adapt to the present, you may well become a thing of the past.
To speak to Damian about any of the topics discussed, or for your employee communications, employee benefits and pension scheme requirements, call 020 7776 2240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org