Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO at global technology solutions provider, Adaptavist, discusses the transformative impact of new technology on traditional notions of the home office during the COVID-19 era.
Starting the day in Australia and closing it in California, that’s when you know the traditional concept of an office is long gone. However, the view of this space has up until fairly recently been established within the rigid constraints of time and place. Despite advancements in technology, we have continued setting working hours and locations that shaped ways of doing business, long after tools were available that enabled us to do things differently.
While start-ups and innovators had been finding new paths, it took the sudden arrival and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate change more widely and make us question how digital tools can not only break down the traditional office concept, but permanently modify its meaning and transform the way we do business. As we look forward to the easing of government restrictions and the end of lockdown, we must ask the question: what will the office become? Will there be a permanent change in our concept of where, when and how work happens?
Where You Are Is Less Important Than Whether You Can Make Things Happen
At a time in which all offices have become home offices, we can argue that the concept of ‘working from home’ has been completely redefined, with the initial circumstances that led to its uptake now entirely different. Today a home office isn’t subject to personal circumstances or preferences, it’s a global playing field. It implies working from anywhere at any time, but more importantly: where and when things happen.
Covid-19 has also taught people to work in a distributed manner, breaking away and leaving behind traditional business structures and constraints. And it’s under these new conditions that we realise: if you and your team can work anywhere, why not employ people globally? Distributed working makes national boundaries irrelevant and, with legal and financial compliance not the headache many fear, businesses are able to consider a wider range of options and completely reassess their structure.
We were founded in the UK, but now more than half of our people are based in other countries. This means we benefit from the best of global talent, diversity in thinking and a follow-the-sun operating model. There’s no reason this thinking can’t apply to all knowledge-based businesses, leading ultimately to global campuses of home offices.
Value Over Circumstance
Digital transformation doesn’t start or end with remote work and home offices, instead it empowers businesses to consider and control their internal talent over external circumstances such as geography and time zones.
In challenging the traditional concept of an office and moving to remote work there’s a sizable opportunity to drive change and get more value from people and subsequently entire teams. The value of digital transformation in itself is on the organisational side of things, its ensuring people realise that there are different ways of working and allowing them to perform at their best. Ultimately, there’s no point in adopting digital transformation unless it allows you to perform better.
In challenging the traditional concept of an office and moving to remote work there’s a sizable opportunity to drive change and get more value from people and subsequently entire teams.
Working When You Want Makes Time Zones Irrelevant
Say you worked nine to five in the UK because those were the company rules and the office’s opening times. This means you could never work in real-time with someone based in California because your day finishes as theirs begins. It would also mean you’d never have the option of running errands during the week.
As an individual when you have the ability to work when you want, as long as the job gets done, you’re able to organise your time to get the best results for your tasks and your life. The concept of an office as a physical location is quickly evolving, which naturally also requires the personal discipline and ability to manage tasks and workloads.
Unlocking the Workflow Constraint
Truly digitally transformed businesses have cultures that allow them to adapt to threats and opportunities. Adaptive organisations do not need change to always come from the top down – ideas can come from anywhere when people can collaborate with each other. For this to happen information needs to flow freely and across business functions. A Dev-Ops approach to business will help organisations with continual experimentation and learning so they can adapt to thrive, whatever the future holds.
To find out more about agile business transformation visit www.adaptavist.com
About Our Guest Writer
A technology leader with senior technical manager experience at board and CxO level with broad experience of design/new build/project/integration and operational management – which has seen him more recently working with senior management teams to drive improvements in their business beyond the purely technical.