‘You don’t need to be in an office to be productive’

Pandemic has proved productivity should be valued over appearance

By Tom Lemmon | 13 July 2020

Working from home is likely to become part of the new normal as the coronavirus crisis has taught business leaders that work doesn’t need to be conducted in an office setting, according to Yemi Jackson, CEO and founder of Engage Transform Consultancy.

According to an article published in Forbes by Workpuls, the pandemic has accelerated the culture of remote working by 10-15 years, while managers have changed their minds about the downfalls of working from home.

“I know a number of people have been saying for a very long time to management and senior leaders that productivity should be the focus,” said Jackson. “Perhaps for the very first time, we’ve seen that actually, you don’t need to be in an office to be very effective.”

Jackson made the comments while speaking on a panel at the Virtual CFO Agenda on Tuesday, June 30. She was joined on the panel by Michael Clark, VP enterprise performance management at Coca-Cola European Partners; Tom Smethers, group finance director at Costa Coffee; Martin Sigel, global CFO of DHL; and Christoph Dubies, chief strategy and transformation officer at Serrala.

Jackson added that one of the few positives to draw from the effects of lockdown is employees’ work-life balance.

“From an employee's perspective, it has been excellent in terms of bringing out work-life balance. The workload has increased, but in actual fact, they’re learning to balance more their life and work. And I think the quality of work has gone up.

“Finally people are now understanding there is a different way of working and they hope that when things do go back to normal, which I don't think they will, I think we're going to be in this new normal, it's going to be a new way of working, people will remember that deliveries are more important than actually being physically in a place,” she added.

Sigel added that he believed advances in technology which made the transition from office to remote working a viable solution, have been critical in allowing companies to continue operating as close to normal as possible.

“Digitalisation, which was probably the topic number one before coronavirus came, has also shown its significant, huge benefits. We don't want to imagine how this whole situation would have been a couple of years earlier when digitalisation was not so advanced. But it also shows us this is the path to go down now at the time we are in,” he said.

Smethers agreed, adding that the perception around remote working was beginning to change, which would likely mean that it becomes the new normal as lockdown is eased.

“I think to a greater or lesser extent, people were more sceptical that you can get a lot of things done. But now with some of the disciplines in place, people putting the cameras on and paying attention, as opposed to multitasking, as maybe they once did, it has made a big difference. And maybe you don't need to have people [in the office].”


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