It’s been eight years since I commuted regularly from my house to a newsroom. Instead I’ve been forced to turn a temporary home or hotel room into a workspace too.
Sometimes those venues have been very pleasant…
Here are some snaps of my favourite Home Offices. But bear in mind : I’m not sharing photos of the ones which were complete dumps!
Needless to say, technology has kept me working, and in touch, all around the world.
But what we’re all doing now is on a whole different scale. And in some parts of the world it simply would not have been possible, not easily, until Covid-19 hit.
We chatted after a live interview via MS Teams which wouldn’t have been possible months before - delighted to meet each other, and delighted not to have to get on an aircraft to do so!
But he and I also lamented not being able to do any real face-to-face, in-the-flesh, in-person gatherings that grease the wheels of business in a way that staring quizzically at a laptop screen can’t replace.
“Virtual meetings might work for an initial introduction - and for maintaining an established relationship for a time. But in between, you really need to spent three to six months developing a rapport with any new business partner. You need to see their neighbourhood and their body language”, says Abhineet.
I think he’s dead right.
I’ve heard at so many conferences how new partnerships have foundered, when folks have got together and discovered a gap between a slick online presentation, and their behaviour in-person.
But I think we’ve got another two years of dealing with virus mutation and vaccination programmes, before we can even begin to think about how business travel and/or virtual conferencing evolves.
On arrival at her new base in Hong Kong she knew she’d be in a hotel room for two week’s (expensive) quarantine. Just a couple of days before leaving, they changed the rules - now it’s three weeks in ‘captivity’.
A lot is being invested in making online experiences more like the real world. Virtual Reality for sales summits is patchy but getting better. There’ll be huge desire in the conference/events industry to get the one to two trillion dollar industry back on its feet.
Yet, businesses are enjoying not spending money on covering absence, travel and accommodation costs for wandering staff. And pre-Covid too, I spent most prep time with businessfolk on the old fashioned telephone - they had little appetite for logging in and sitting up.
It’s early days, I fear, so get comfortable wherever you are.