Why We’ll Be Remote Working Long After COVID-19
For over a year, Chimney’s Patric Römbo has been advising blue chip brands on the benefits of remote working through video conferences and webinars. In this piece, Patric outlines why he believes the current COVID-19 contingency plans will open eyes throughout the industry to the benefits of remote working, and will see it widely used long after Coronavirus has subsided.
There can be no doubt that we are living in trying times. All across the world, borders are shutting down, industries are being hit, and uncertainty is running wild.
Dig beneath the soil, however, and you start to uncover some seeds of positivity. I believe that one such example is our industry’s relationship with remote working, which has become near-universally adopted as we attempt to self-isolate where possible.
At Chimney, remote working is something that we’ve been interested in for quite some time, not just for ourselves but also for our clients. We’ve long been persuaded by the advantages the practice brings, with one study showing that employees are 77% more productive when working from home. That’s not to mention the mental health benefits, cutting out the commute that 55% of office workers identified as a factor in their increased stress levels.
The current crisis is forcing all of us to think and act in different ways. Of course, there are many of us who are profoundly unfamiliar with remote working, who are now being forced to dust off their webcam and use it every single day. My hope, and my prediction, is that these late-adopters are going to discover the joy of how much more simple and practical remote working can make your life.
Recently I was talking to an art director from one of our clients who had been making use of our conferencing and webinar programme. He had always understood how much more cost-effective it would be, but he was surprised by some of the additional benefits. For example, when their conference was hosted online he found it to be far better-attended than a face-to-face event. It was so much more practical for attendees who didn’t have to drop everything else just to show up.
Putting the Planet First
All of which is to say nothing of the relationship between remote working and sustainability. During the relatively short time in which we have been grappling with this virus, a slither of good news has been the effect we’ve seen on the environment. In just a couple of months we’ve seen reports of air pollution being slashed, and even the colour of the water in tourist hotspots like Venice clearing up in places that would normally be trampled under litter and overpopulation.
Perhaps something we can hope to get from this awful experience is a valuable lesson in what we can afford to live without. We all know that we don’t need to be flying as much as we are, but this experience is going to prove just how possible it is for us to get by and keep the show running where possible.\
Above: A gallery of Chimney's remote working workshop spaces
Travel Wastes Time and Money
Think about how much time we waste in transit in this industry. I’m sure a great many of you reading this article will have experienced the frustration of spending hours on a plane to make it to a meeting or event that simply didn’t justify the cost, both in money and time. At Chimney, those frustrations inspired us to create our remote working programme, which continues to prove popular and effective. I’m sure that, while today we are resorting to these ideas because we’ve been forced to, we’re going to learn about so many benefits that they stick around long after COVID-19 has been subdued.
The upcoming generation thinks absolutely nothing of communicating via technology, often hundreds of times per day. As these people make up more and more of the workforce, remote working is going to become the new normal. Personally I have found that setting up for remote working is essential for a global organisation at any time, let alone extreme situations such as what we face today. Our meeting rooms all have screens that connect with our offices and staff around the world, wherever they are. And it’s becoming even more widespread.
Navigating our way through the next few weeks isn’t going to be easy. It’s important for all of us that we support each other through this crisis, and so when we learn lessons they should be shared. I think that one of those lessons will be the value of working remotely, and its potential to make our lives and businesses much better off long after this virus is yesterday’s news.