Matt Parker, CEO of Babble, shares his views on the new world of work, how it’s affecting us and what the future looks like:
As much as we hate this phrase, Babble was born in the cloud. We don’t have any fixed technology so naturally, when Boris gave the order to stay at home our business found it easy to adapt. Our employees work, collaborate and communicate around one central platform, available on any device, anywhere. Our contact centre isn’t fixed to an office with phones and headsets, and our cybersecurity isn’t something we ever need to worry about.
So, since March we’ve been delivering business as usual for our employees and our customers, even though in many other aspects of our lives it certainly wasn’t business as usual. Due to the pandemic and the nature of the solutions we offer our clients, we got significantly busier as leaders sought to deploy the tools they needed to keep their businesses running.
Unbelievably, given what was going on, we became more efficient, productive and happier. Our customers were happier too – something we equate to our employees having the tools and the trust to do their jobs when and where appropriate for them.
In response we have offered all of our employees, whatever their job function, the option of a ‘work from home first’ contract and we are closing 80% of our office space. The ones that remain will be state-of-the-art meeting and communication centres rather than rows of desks.
We are in no doubt that our future is very much centred around a flexible, remote working business environment enabled by the technology we put in place ourselves. However, we are also aware that we are at the far end of the adoption scale. Our ability to adapt and work in such an agile manner will not be replicated across all businesses in every sector and we mustn’t forget that humans are sociable creatures. Despite many claiming so, the office is not dead, and neither are face-to-face meetings.
Importantly, all leaders need to adapt and be brave. They must look at the long-term future of their businesses. Forget about the now – where do they see their business in five years once Covid-19 is behind us? What sort of culture do they want to engrain and what sort of working practices would they like employees working to? It’s only once you understand the answers to these questions that you can implement the correct, scalable technology that will allow your business to thrive, whether or not there’s a second wave or another global crisis which inhibits “normal working practises”.
At Babble, we’ve shown that full remote working can result in a happier, less stressed, more productive workforce, which makes for better results. We also know that our clients have witnessed the same improvements, so there is no doubt in our minds that 2020 will go down in history as the moment that there was a seismic shift towards agile working across the globe. However, it won’t mark the end of office working. We believe that long-term we will default to a hybrid model in which companies future-proof their businesses by providing employees with the freedom to work as they please, while offering the human contact that’s required to develop staff, creativity and relationships for the better.
I, for one, am excited to be playing a part in this reset and can’t wait to see how much more productive businesses across the world become as a result.