I’ve been reading a lot of speculative pieces about what things are going to be like in a post-COVID world from my sickbed.
Some things seem pretty clear:
- There will be a major economic downturn of some shape and size
- Our relationships with offices will change
- My life as a city dweller – and the pubs, restaurants, movies, meet-ups, conferences and watching live sport that provides me – will be very different
- International travel will be more expensive and even less straightforward.
None of this is great. For me I’ll likely have to make some trade-offs between physical and mental health. Working at home all the time is not great for me but given my current state, various long term ailments and generally crappy immune system my days of London, hotels, trains and Tubes are clearly over for the foreseeable. Also my international travel has been my main way of recharging for the last decade or so – if that becomes too expensive or simply too much hassle what will I do to replace that?
I’m investing in a shed office and am basically setting my stall out to be a predominantly distributed worker come what may. This is not an easy decision for me as I’m one of those odd beasts who likes being in an office and around a team. I even ~ whisper it ~ don’t mind meetings a lot of the time. I’m good at them. I can read a room, make my points, influence outcomes and generally feel productive (in the good ones – an awful lot of meetings could have been an email or a conversation – but I’m good at spotting those now as well and can usually shut them down or at least my attendance when I do.)
Honestly I don’t know how this will work with work at all. At the moment with everyone in a similar boat it is happening but really people pay to have me around and a lot of what I do is based on observation and relationships which I’m not sure will work in the same way in future however this all lands.
It is noticeable that a lot – heck most – of the opportunities coming out on DOS are still talking about being ‘on-site’. I think this will start to change if for no other reason than I suspect there just won’t be the space. A lot of offices have found it hard to accommodate our teams in recent times anyway and if offices need to redesign their spaces with social distancing in mind there will be fewer seats than ever! So the model will have to evolve but into what? There is a pretty wide continuum of options available and I think we’ll have to get used to a bit of a messy mix while things settle.
What I was planning on doing this year was building a product management proposition within the company – a mix of services, training and coaching – we have some brilliant product people in-house and in close proximity but now I am just not sure what that looks like – we’ll have to see. In a world where agile and product shifts much more to a distributed model there is going to be a lot of reimagining and realigning to do around ways of working so getting out ahead of that is going to be important.
This babble was really just a clear my head post and has – if you have reached this far – absolutely zero answers and a lot of questions but that feels like where we are at the moment….and I am not sure reading more and more speculation is helping me….but I doubt I’ll stop.
One response to “Ok. Ok. What’s next?”
Where possible having a proper space at home is critical for well-being and the shed sounds good. Would love you to blog about it (I don’t have space for a shed office but always like seeing my friends – winner so far had full on central heating!). I’m at the point where it is good lots of folk are looking at how to be distributed more and I really want to help ensure we find a few ways of doing things that best use the digital channels and scale. Of course I’m still not convinced we won’t mostly try to return to 2019 ways of doing things ASAP. There is also every chance we “must” work with others more as our resources take a knock. I’d love to evolve what our physical spaces can be. Going to the office for rest of 2020 currently seems hard work for all sorts of reasons for many so lots of head scratching for us all in the short term.