Are you Looking forward to returning to the office?
Digital telecoms have so far been one of the biggest winners during the Covid-19 crisis and have shown their prime importance for the economy. According to a Survey conducted by Odoxa, 67% of Europeans would have struggled more with the lockdown without new digital technology such as video conferencing, social networks, TV streaming services etc. 8 out of 10 Europeans believe new technologies have saved the world economically and socially as well as critically supporting healthcare infrastructure and so fully connecting the 42% of Europeans in unconnected areas and areas with poor network coverage should be a top priority for governments. 700 million people in rural areas around the world still have no access to the network and there are more than 1000 towns in France called ‘zones blanches’ which mean they are not served by at least one mobile network provider with good signal.
The main question regarding the return to normal is drawing attention to our definition of the ‘normal’ and therefore our new consumption patterns – the further spread of online shopping and the ability to maintain regular contact with our loved ones despite any distance. By reaching a larger proportion of the population in recent months, the popularity and investment in digital technology has been given a second wind with the lockdown.
For international recruitment, digital tools are essential for communication and allow a recruiter to maintain more regular and meaningful contact with many candidates and clients. In addition, for candidate’s working from home, there is often more flexibility and freedom to communicate openly compared to when they are in the office and unable to speak freely.
During various Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings I have experienced with Audit Managers, time saving turns out to be a considerable consideration in personal and professional lives. Guillaume M, Internal Audit Manager for a well-known French Asset Manager, closes our meeting by telling me how glad he is to have the chance to spend some time with his child between meetings, Sophie H, Senior IT Auditor for an European leading financial services group, will not be back in her London office by the end of the year, she is able to work from home in Belgium and move closer to her family. On the other hand, the advantages of a face-to-face meeting will remain unbeatable. Meeting during a lunch break or around a coffee is one of the best ways to establish long-lasting relationships. In a survey conducted by Forbes that spoke to 760 business executives, 84% preferred face-to-face communication. Of those, 85% said their reason was that it builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships. Respondents also said that face-to-face meetings are best for persuasion (91%), leadership (87%), and engagement (86%).
Major players within the financial services industry are beginning to adapt to more flexibility in longer term policies as they are aware of the benefits of working from home and the ability of their staff to remain effective. In the French banking sector, an average of 40-50% of the staff has returned to work by June while following social distancing instruction implemented by the government, they are planning to get the full staff back by September 2020. In the United Kingdom, September is also a targeted deadline for many European players based in Britain to have most of their staff in the office, even if on a rotational basis. Others are more cautious and are aiming for early next year.
In conclusion, we can say that if a second wave does not occur, an ideal return to work would be a mix between our habits before lockdown and our habits during the lockdown. An increase in days working from home each week, implementing fully remote recruitment processes, or cutting costs by moving to smaller offices with lower rent.
And you? Has the lockdown changed your works habit forever?
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