Managing Director Chris Howsam shares his thoughts about the lockdown.
For many years I have maintained a fully functioning office at home complete with CAD and secure access to all our files and documents. I can’t remember when this was not the case as it has been driven by the needs of planning projects, dealing with admin and working with clients/suppliers in different time zones. Having video conferences at 3am to look at tooling in China or talking to clients in far flung places at 9pm is quite normal and part of the day to day challenge of delivering our product design services. The challenge of Coronavirus now means that a home office is crucial for many of us. In my case I am sharing my time between home and the office. Work that can be done at home is done there but work that needs to be hands on with parts must be done in the office. There are of course the usual items of post and parcels that need to be dealt with, many of them necessary to maintain the running of the business.
Within Sated Design we now have some staff working from home and some working in the office. By liaising between those who need to come into the office and those who can work at home we maintain a normal working week. Thank fully, the office space and workshops are large enough that we maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same buzz in the office because of the reduction in conversation and bustle of people moving about it feels a little odd, almost like working on a weekend. Gadget and Gizmo (the office dogs) must think everyone is on holiday!
Everyone here has adopted to the new way of working without any drama and this set me thinking about what could happen once the lock down is over. I think there will be a need to redefine how many businesses operate. The changes imposed on us through Coronavirus and the lock down have added a different dynamic which will change the status quo.
Of course it will be impractical for some to work from home but there are many that could work in an office facility close to their home. The provision of more leased workspaces in residential areas and town centres created from vacant retail or office space would reduce travel costs and travel time for many. The concept of leased workspaces is not new because many business start-ups get off the ground in this way, but I see many people wanting to work nearer to home, especially after proving they can work remotely from a central office.
I believe there is something positive to be learned about how businesses are coping with lockdown and this could result in improvements to the work and life balance of many people. Do we go back to everything as it was or do we as employers and employees actively engage in discussion about what we have learnt about how we work and use it to define a better way?