The future is digital: business must streamline to survive

His view was that they would reduce their office space by 50 per cent, echoing the view of Jes Staley at Barclays, who believes that “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”.

While swingeing cuts in property rents may sound appealing, it is premature to herald the death of the traditional financial services office.

We are only now beginning to see the mental health impact of being isolated for weeks on end or trying to juggle home schooling or childcare with a day job.

Many people have struggled with the practicalities of carving out a home workspace and many more are craving the social interaction that comes with the daily commute to the office.

And let us not forget the technology. Over the past couple of months I have used Teams, Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Skype for Business (once), even WhatsApp video.

Working with international clients over video for a number of years has given us plenty of practice but, let’s be honest, there are times when we wish we were all in the same room.

Prediction: for those people fortunate enough to work for an organisation that can make it work, and where the family cat or small child appearing on a Zoom call is not a problem (hands up, it’s happened to me), the ‘new normal’ will likely be a mix of more flexible remote working and less time sitting at a desk in an office.

Online webinars and distance learning

It is not just schools and universities that shut their doors; every industry event and course was cancelled pretty much overnight.

Many businesses have successfully adapted to offering shorter online webinars to maintain engagement and ensure the key messages still get out, despite the disruptions.

Many of the technologies used for remote working have been adopted to deliver these sessions, and some presenters are building up a nice following without the need for expensive event suppliers.

Prediction: the event industry was in desperate need of disruption and innovation, and sadly, it has taken a pandemic to kickstart this. No longer will I need to get up at the crack of dawn or spend many hundreds of pounds on tickets and train travel to attend an event.

I will be able to pick and choose what I watch, and when, and if it is not grabbing me, I can click my mouse and go do something else more productive. Event organisers will need to up their game, as will presenters — no more sales pitches to a captive audience in a big city venue.