Opinion  

Will the new ways of working stick after lockdown?

Darren Cooke

Darren Cooke

Hopefully the endgame is now within our grasp and this will indeed be our final lockdown (cue people singing Europe's "The Final Countdown" with altered lyrics).

As the loosening of restrictions comes, depending on which bit of the UK you live in, so comes the thoughts of returning to the office and to face-to-face client meetings. But will you actually do that?

We have all had more than a year now of working remotely and using the video software of your choice to conduct meetings with clients, so do we actually need to go back to face-to-face meetings?

Certainly I have taken on a couple of clients that I have never met, and will probably never meet due to the distance they are from me. Prior to this I would have almost certainly turned them away for that reason alone – indeed, they may well not have even got in touch with me.

Now they, and I, accept that dealing via video meetings and a secure message portal is a normal way to do business. I actually only had two clients decline video meetings last year and some have already said they are happy to continue with video calls for at least some of our meetings.

For my part, I expect to work in a hybrid manner and offer either face-to-face or video calls to clients and go with what they prefer for the most part. I will not insist on either for a client.

By continuing with video meetings I will save my travelling time alone and personally I have found that video meetings are shorter than in person ones. That will give me more time to complete other tasks or spend more time with my family.

For the most part I work on my own, so I returned to the office a couple of weeks ago. I would normally have an admin assistant here one day a week and we are planning for her to return to the office later this month, but probably only once every two weeks now.

As providers have increasingly moved to online systems, the need for her to be in the office pushing physical paper is much less and we have had very few issues with her not being based here.

If you have a larger team I can see advantages in getting them all together in an office, but I suspect more advice businesses will have flexible working with staff rather than everybody in every day. Maybe even ask your staff what they want to do and try to structure the business and their work to suit that, within reason of course.

This has given us the tools and the opportunity to reshape the way we work; it has been a decade of change in one year.

So far the change has been dictated to us by circumstances, but now we can shape the change and make it work for us, our clients and our staff.