Back to the way things were

Around 18 months ago, the idea of working from home full-time was not an option for many people. However, last year it became our reality. Suddenly we had to adjust to new ways of working. We had to make space at home to work in the same way or as close to how we would in the office.

The world didn’t stop, we showed that it could in fact be done. But it happened because we were forced to rather than companies allowing it or wanting it to happen.

And now, as we get closer to getting ‘back to normal’, a lot of companies want the traditional ways of the 9-5 to return. However, many employees have adjusted to the new way of life and don’t want to go back.

They now save time and money spent on their journeys into work, are less likely to buy lunch, have more flexibility over how they spend their day and more.

For others, working from home may have brought less routine, more distractions, less productivity and a loss of culture/community.

I don’t think it’s a case of picking working from home or from the office but instead acknowledging that both options can work well and then finding a new way.

We don’t need to just go back to the way things were but we don’t need to totally abandon the office.

Clubhouse probably won’t become the next Instagram

We already have Instagram, it can’t be replaced.

It’s more likely that other apps will copy it and it will die out or become less popular, like snapchat.

When it comes to the growth and longevity of Clubhouse, there is a lot to be considered.

Firstly, there is likely to be a period of rapid growth once it becomes available for android. However, when it comes to longevity in the next 3 months, 6 months or even a year I think that things are much less certain.

Once the app becomes more easily available the amount of users will increase for a period of time as people that didn’t previously get access can now join and see what the hype was about. There is likely to then be a decline in users as some will lose interest in the app after a few weeks.

In terms of how long the app will last, unless we all become addicted like how we are with Instagram I think it will be a question of ‘Is what I gain from this going to be worth more than the time that ends up being wasted?’ or ‘Is what I can gain from this different from what I already have access to through youtube, podcasts, IGTV, books, articles etc? and lastly ‘Is what I can gain for this better than the alternatives on apps I’m already familiar with?’

I think there is something to be said about being on the cusp, on showing up in the early stages because you’re interested, not just because something is trendy or popular.

The reason why I think clubhouse is such a big deal is because it’s very rare for a new social media app to show up and gain such traction in such a short space of time, especially because it has resulted in 2 of the biggest social media apps to add a similar features so that they can compete.

I also think it’s great that there are so much options for what you could do with the app: read a play, discuss pop culture, live podcast, talk show, etc that it can appeal to a range of age groups.

I’m looking forward to see how the app grows and develops in the future. Will it last, will Twitter/Instagram/Discord alternatives force it to die out as people already have followings on those platforms? But also what new features will it have and once things go back to ‘normal’ will we still be interested?

Post-lockdown in the office

I’ve recently had a few conversations about going back to work and what that will look like.

For some that worked in offices they were able to continue at home whilst for others things grounded to a halt and have remained so for the past couple of months.

From the way things look, it appears that even though things are starting to open up again, we will not be going to back to the normal that we once knew.

With social distancing set to become our new way of living, the office environment can no longer remain the same.

Lunch – The eating space can no longer be a social space used to catch up and get away from your desk. Tables and chairs would need to be re-organised to ensure social distancing remains. It’ll probably be more convenient to just eat at your desk.

Meetings – In the past few months all meetings have been held over video or changed to a phone call, I think this will remain. Travelling for client meetings will no longer be a priority, unless perhaps done so by car. Team meetings work well whilst we’re all at home but this will not translate well into a socially distanced office. We’ll need to think about how we can have group discussions in a private place whilst still maintaining distance.

Hot-desking – Something that was implemented as the new way of working and that marked a rise in the flexibility of the 9-5 is now at risk of being eradicated. We’ll still have the flexibility in work hours but the space we work in will stay the same, the less stuff shared the better.

As you can see, it’ll be a challenge to maintain any sort of normal office environment with social-distancing. An office, like many other work spaces is built on people coming together.

What does this change mean for the future of working and how can we adapt to ensure we’re working in spaces that meet our needs both individually and collectively?

What we can learn from working from home

Turns out that the 9-5 isn’t as necessary as it once was.

With everything going on in the world meetings are becoming emails or being done by video, travel has come to a halt and working from home may become the non-optional office alternative.

Despite the unfortunate situation that has caused things to change, I can’t help but notice that there is something to learn.

As someone that works in an office less than 50% of what I do requires me to be in the building or to interact with my co-workers.

But I can imagine a time when people used typewriters or even computers that you couldn’t physically take home. Back then, being in your office was necessary to undertake your work.

These days all you need is a laptop and you can use that anywhere.

I’m not championing no longer having an office at all. However, I do think it is worth exploring how often you actually need to be in the company office and the purpose that it serves.

For many it’s the social aspect of going to the kitchen for tea and a catch up with a work pal, it’s meeting people when you’re new to the city, it’s having a space to work for those with limited room at home or those wanting to maintain separation between work and life.

Having an office to go to isn’t necessary for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but it does come with benefits.

It introduces us to new people, gives us a routine and gives us the opportunity to be part of a culture.