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Working from home – is it here to stay?

The working from home debate is in full flow and has recently reached Silicon Valley.

At the start of May, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever’, followed shortly by Shopify’s announcement. Mark Zuckerberg predicts that over half of Facebook’s staff will be home working within the decade, further commenting that they will “aggressively open up remote hiring” for engineering talent in areas they do not have an office.

Microsoft was one of the first companies to shift to a remote-working policy which will remain in place until October. It has experienced a 15% increase in revenue in the first quarter of 2020, and 70% increase in Microsoft Team users. But the CEO, Satya Nadella has spoken with the New York Times about the challenges he faces with the model.

“What I miss is when you walk into a physical meeting, you are talking to the person that is next to you, you’re able to connect with them for the two minutes before and after,” he said.

He went further to warn about embracing remote working permanently:

“What does burnout look like? What does mental health look like? What does that connectivity and the community building look like? One of the things I feel is, hey, maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote. What’s the measure for that?”

Last week, we discussed remote working at Seaton Partners. As a company we have always embraced remote working with consultants being based across the UK, and from across the globe.

“It is a game changer. We have entered a new paradigm in all of our lives. How we assess things, judge people, prioritise problems, where we focus our time, where we spend our money, our view of world problems, local politics, and business ethics. All of it will find a new order. Things we thought important, are not. Things we overlooked; we now hold dear. I don’t want to be in lockdown, but I also don’t want to return to ‘normal’. There is an opportunity here for us all – I hope we are brave enough to seize it”.

Adam Seaton, Managing Director

“It was challenging to start with, but once in routine it was better than I thought. I agree with Satya, I miss that 2-minute conversation before and after meetings, to gauge how people are really feeling. Meetings are definitely more efficient, but I wish we could slow down a little and ensure we give everyone enough time to participate”.

Sara Bliss, Projects Director

“It was hard to adapt at the beginning with distractions but after a while it became better, although it was strange not doing the ‘normal’ office type things, e.g. talking to colleagues face to face, having visitors, answering the door”.

Amy Towell, Apprentice

“On the plus side – loved having concentrated work periods, less commute, family lunches, conscious exercise, robust technology to operate as normal. Not so good – missing the natural osmosis of information, building relationships by informal communication, the feeling of working as a team”.

Nicola Garrett, Commercial Manager

“Working from home whilst the kids are in the house is always more challenging than when I have a free house without distraction. Being courteous to the family by working in an upstairs bedroom has not been as comfortable as working at my usual home office desk but allowed me to be “shut away” for longer periods of time. On a personal note, I like to talk to people and interact in person so although MS Teams and other connected platforms allow us to do this and provides some form of normality, it could never replace that interaction you get from human to human conversation where you can share sights, smells and the environment that you both share”.

Jon Tanner, Pre-sales Consultant

Join the debate and let us know what you think over on our social channels: @SeatonPartners.