Print.IT Reseller - issue 83

just as easy for us to win new customers based in Devon or Cornwall as it is in Burnley or Manchester. We’ve even held meetings with people in Germany and the US – the barriers aren’t there anymore. “Many of our customers are in the manufacturing and engineering sectors and they haven’t experienced much change in the way that they operate. However, we have seen an increase in our process digitisation services, and we do have some customers whose operations are all now paperless – but this is rare. “2020 definitely saw a surge in digitisation across all businesses, but I worry that some organisations have just created a digital haystack by undertaking this work themselves. Some of our customers still have staff working from home, so I can imagine their long-term plans containing inbuilt flexibility – favouring smaller office spaces with hot desking capabilities. “Overall, I think we will see a more flexible work culture opening up and businesses will be more streamlined – if this can be done without cutting corners then it is a positive step.” Mark Bailey, Managing Director, EBM Managed Services “Both with our clients and at EBM, we’ve seen that most people prefer to work in the office. There are significant mental health benefits to differentiating between the office, the classroom and the kitchen table. However, now that working from home has been shown as a viable option, the majority of SMEs we encounter are being much more flexible with their working arrangements and leaving it to their employees to decide the best working patterns for them. I think that this approach will continue for a while, but that most staff will opt to come back to the office. “That’s SMEs though, I think with corporates we may well see something different. When you have large overheads there is a significant cost benefit to keeping your staff at home. HSBC has already announced a 40 per cent reduction in office space and I think more will follow, especially now the infrastructure has already been established. “All of this, however, will depend on individual leaders and management style. How close do management need their teams to be? Will they be comfortable allowing staff the freedom to manage their own workload when they don’t have to? That will depend very much on each individual organisation. On the whole, I think that the vast majority of people will return full time to the office eventually. However, the flexibility to work from home will forever be an option.” Pietro Renda, Chief Marketing Officer, MPS Monitor “At the moment, companies are managing the work from home dynamic in various ways. Some have given their employees permission to continue working remotely until at least the end of 2021. Others have recalled staff to the workplace on different schedules and in staggered groups, while many are leaving it entirely up to individual workers to decide where to base themselves. “But businesses around the world are also starting to think about the longer term, including alternative ways to structure work communication and hours as well as physical presence. And what many are converging on amid the ongoing uncertainty, is different models of hybrid working: combining remote working with office-based work. “I believe that once the pandemic subsides, working from home two days a week will be optimal for balancing collaborative and productive work, while benefitting from the reduced stress of less commuting. Of course, hybrid working patterns won’t suit everyone or every organisation. In general, there’s enormous socio economic and racial inequality between who is able to work from home and who is not; long-term, that needs to be addressed if everyone is able to enjoy the advantages that hybrid working offers. “There are other issues that need to be considered, too. Partially distributed teams also commonly report communication problems. Conflict is more likely on digital communication platforms, partly because social inhibitions and behaviour codes are more powerful when working face-to- face than they are online. Additionally, the lack of shared social identity that is more common in partially distributed teams can harm team effectiveness and performance, by impairing trust and team spirit. “Organisations have of course learned how to run complex meetings on collaborative platforms. Client management has been handled so efficiently remotely that many clients now prefer this mode of interaction. This massive shift in preference has persuaded even the most sceptical and converted them into happy users of remote working practices and platforms. This mind-set shift – or, change management – is a key enabler in the switch to the hybrid work model. “That said, managers would need to demonstrate greater empathy to navigate the team who are handling challenges within the hybrid work model. Team meetings in specific intervals, leaders checking on team members, ...continued HSBC has already announced a 40 per cent reduction in office space and I think more will follow 01732 759725 42 VOX POP Pietro Renda Mark Bailey What many are converging on amid the ongoing uncertainty, is different models of hybrid working: combining remote working with office-based work.