Each crisis gives birth to new paradigms and accelerates novel ways of dealing with business. These paradigms have always existed, but they were not necessarily recognized. I can think of a few, such as booking your airline ticket online or finding a job on the internet. We are also seeing now that offices are no longer requiring a main location for “the workplace.” The acceptance of the home office as an efficient and valid way to conduct business has taken time, even in the most conventional sectors of activities. We, at Insigniam, started to look at it for ourselves as our clients began to come to us for support. We even ran Webinars to bring light to this otherwise challenging subject that nobody had tried to previously tackle.
“Working from home? No, I don’t believe in it. People will take advantage and won’t be productive,” we often heard. However, Bill Gates has said that a new era has come, where physical meetings aren’t “the gold standard” anymore, and claims that after the pandemic “50% of air travel will go away.” But is it really going to be the standard? Are we ready for such a big mental shift? How about those “long business lunches” notoriously important in certain countries? Are we prepared to shift all of that online?
Of course, some CFOs have enjoyed the lower travel costs and expenses. Moreover, a period of crisis has forced us to open up and think, make the most of a new paradigm, pushing us to look at all the possibilities that this pandemic has forced us to look at. Although it is undeniable that in most cases people have adapted and have become more efficient, it is also starting to show the side effects of working from home. This has culminated in an overabundance of calls and Zoom meetings, with employees working longer days, resulting in increased stress and burnout.
Businesses are increasingly using these new ways of virtual work, at least 300 million people use Zoom daily. The new way of communicating has created a new term called “Zoom burnout,” as there becomes an inability to disconnect from the job. In addition, being on video is stopping us from key aspects of business life such as meeting new people, discovering new places, and therefore opening new opportunities more spontaneously.
Companies such as Twitter and Facebook have offered the opportunity for their employees to work from home full-time. These companies are based mostly online and the need to be in an office is probably less relevant for them. Regardless of what sector we are looking at, what it comes down to is the people constituting these firms. They have to look at whether they are prepared, or not, to look at the future and declare the possibility to accomplish something unprecedented and unthinkable. They will be enrolling the rest of the business, embracing the new paradigms, accepting to make mistakes along the way, all whilst maintaining the culture. This will create a new generation of leaders and set the scene for a new future of business.