The New Normal at som3

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The New Normal at som3

“New Normal” is a phrase we are starting to hear in all areas of life, but does anyone know what this new normal looks like? The answer is not really – it seems a lot of places are just doing the best they can to follow the ever-changing rules and regulations, while meeting the needs of their customers and employees.

For som3 this is no different. Since mid-March we have had a mix of staff working from home, on furlough and in the offices depending on their personal situations and workloads. We have juggled home schooling with Zoom calls, emails with dog walks, silly memes with difficult business decisions all in the space of one day. We have also seen some fabulous lockdown hair and for some strange reason most of us have found our clothes have been shrinking – odd.

Restrictions are now being lifted and so here we are trying to work out what this means for us and our customers (other than haircuts and diets).

For us, the new normal may see more of a mix of office and home working – some of us prefer to be in the office with our nice large desks, 2 PC screens and with the company of colleagues (from 2 metres away of course), some have proven they can work just as effectively from home and will continue to work a mix of both. We have carried out risk assessments on the offices, have a supply of wipes, masks and hand gel, and make sure we limit time in the communal spaces (helped here in Aylesbury by Tom heating up salmon in the microwave).

What does this mean for our clients? Well, hopefully most have not seen much of a change in the service we give them and in fact relationships have been built upon while we are all in battle together.

We imagine some of the changes we have seen will continue in to this new normal:

Virtual Team Meetings – We are sure we have all had a Zoom or Teams call in the last few months and in a way it is nice to see a side of your colleagues or contacts you didn’t previously know! Who has pets, who has kids running in to see what mummy or daddy is up to, who has a lovely kitchen you wish you had, and who has been ordering far too many Lego sets off Amazon recently… For a new employee, feeling part of a team is vital – this could be harder to achieve just using Zoom, and so maybe meeting your colleagues for a socially distant coffee now and again would be a good idea.

Video Interviews – for us, the only client interviews that are happening are telephone and video interviews. It has been great that interviews have been taking place and that people are realising the benefits – no need to argue over meeting room availability and needing to wait until various managers are physically in the office at the same time. For candidates there is no worry about transport or parking, less worry about taking time off as you don’t need to factor travel time in, and they still get to meet people face to face, albeit on video. Will this replace the physical face to face interview? Long term we doubt it, as you can’t beat going to the offices for an interview to get a feel for atmosphere of a company, seeing your potential new colleagues milling about, but we imagine a larger proportion of the process will be done remotely especially for contract positions.

Working from home – it still seems there is a bit of a stigma about working from home, and that there needs to be a level of trust built up in the office before you are believed to be productive enough working from home. Then there is the technology perspective – companies need to think about providing the right equipment to enable someone to work from home, is providing people with company laptops going to be possible and done from day 1? What if they need training from a colleague – can that be done with shared screens or does it have to be in the office? We believe there will be a large increase in people working from home in general but maybe this won’t be from day 1 of a new job.

Work Life Balance – Social media has been awash with people spending more time with family, enjoying the great outdoors and seeing that there is more to life than the 9 – 5 grind. We will probably see companies embracing the mental health benefits of a strong work life balance and consider a bit less rigidity around set start times and finish times so people can take the dog for a long walk at lunch time, fit in that virtual Zumba class before work, or take the kids to football training one evening a week – then logging back on later to finish the work – it’s not all about who is sat at their desk for the longest after all, it’s about who gets the best results from their time. This could be a benefit we see companies pushing as part of their recruitment drives.

Client Meetings – here at som3 we long to be back out on the road going to see our customers face to face over a coffee or a nice pub lunch, but it may be a little longer until this is possible. The good thing is (other than our vastly reduced expenses bill) it should be easier to get more people together on a Zoom call than in a meeting room, and should be easier to co-ordinate diaries – both for us and our customers but also our customers with their customers.

Tea Rounds – will we see the end of shouts of “whose turn is it to make the tea” due to touching of all those cups and potential transfer of viruses? Will HR ban making brews for your colleagues? Personally, some of us here hope so as there is always that one person that makes a rubbish cup of tea (looking at you Tom).

Team Meetings – the som3 Southerners and Northerners miss each other! Zoom just isn’t the same, and we haven’t all been together as a team since the 13th March just before lockdown started. Luckily we all speak daily and have pulled together, supporting each other as best we can – but its not quite the same as being all in one place

At the end of the day, we are all in this together and struggling to make sense of the last 6 months and what this means for our personal and professional lives and supporting each other is key. Whatever this “new normal” looks like, we will work with our customers and candidates in a way that works for them and hopefully soon, the “new normal” will just become plain old normal life.