Wirelive: Episode #11

'The workplace of the future.'

Show Notes: 

John Haggis

Kepler Wolf

Becky Simms

Reflect Digital

The Tungsten Network

John Wilson

How To Sustain Company Culture In A Hybrid Work Model (forbes.com)

Workplace disrupted – 5 themes that will define the future of work | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

What Is The Future Of The Office? (businessbecause.com)

The Smaller, Smarter Future if Agencies.

Can young people thrive in a remote work world

Live Transcription: 

Rob

Okay, we are live Welcome everybody to the 11th. Wirelive the future of the workplace, the workplace of the future, maybe it's both. I'm joined by three fantastic guests.

We've had some entertaining technical challenges this morning, which I think is indicative of the future of the workplace. But we are coming to you live on YouTube, or if you are watching us back later on your chosen format.

I introduced my fantastic guests in a moment. But just to sort of frame the conversation for today. The world is waking up, Spring has sprung.

 

I went to London yesterday for the first time since March of 2020. It seems like the narrative is shifting a bit and it's time to think about what comes next. And so, for today, we thought it would be interesting to ask three friends of Wirehive who come from very different walks of life, what their view on this is, what how it's affecting their businesses, how they're planning for the future, and where they, I suppose what they think the answers might be to the inevitable challenges that are going to come from this, this this new workplace that we're all going to be wrestling with over the years ahead.

 

So without any further ado, let's dive straight in. I'd love to let each of our fantastic guests introduce themselves. So, I'll start with Mr John Haggis from Kepler Wolf john, what's your name? What do you do? Well, you know, we don't even

 

John Haggis

You know my name is. So I'm a partner of a law firm called Kepler Wolf . And we are a new law firm, we've only been going for two years. And we've from from the start with your brace to the cloud first approach. And we've got a team of about 10 lawyers in total, all working through the cloud, to support our clients.

 

Rob

Thanks, John. You are doing it differently in the world of law, it still baffles me how much paper is involved? And I am very pleased that you're doing your bit to change that. On the on the day after Earth Day, that seems particularly poignant. And Becky, good morning. Tell us a bit about you.

 

Becky Simms

Morning.

Hi. So, I'm Becky Simms. I'm founder and CEO at Reflect Digital or digital marketing agency, and we sit as part of the Lab Group. So, there's about 35 in my team, and probably about 80, or 90 of us across the whole group. And we are spread out across London, South Africa. And we've got some people dotted all around the world as well.

 

Rob

A true international distributed workplace. It's Yeah, I think you guys have been facing a lot of these challenges for a long time, I think that people are now starting to consider. And last but by no means least, or headlining, as I like to say when I'm last on the bill. JOHN, listen, good morning. Tell us a bit about you.

 

John Wilson

Good morning. Yeah, I'm the head of technology services for Tungsten. We provide e-invoicing services over the Internet to large organizations. I also provide the IT services to colleagues and business partners, and we have got about 400 users of those services spread internationally.

 

Rob

So, a slightly larger team, and perhaps the challenges that Mr Wilson and Becky are facing, so interesting to get that contact as well. So

 

 

Rob

Great, thank you.

 

much for joining us, guys. This should be a really fun and engaging conversation. So let's start with, with the question. Do you think your teams really know what they want? This is the thing we've been wrestling with the most at the moment. And with Wirehive and Pax8 is, you know, do people really, actually know what they're going to want in the future? Because I think right now everybody's kind of coming out of this state we've been in and there's a lot of ambiguity about what the different options might be.

 

And, Mr. Haggis, why don't we come to you? You know, you're, you're in the process of setting up a, you know, the law firm of the future, I think in many ways. You say you've got quite a clear vision already, for how you want it to look, but how do you think your team perceived their options do? How are you kind of tackling this with the team about what the future might look like for the firm?

 

John Haggis

So I think, you know, from a basic answer, I don't think anyone can really say they know exactly what they want from the future from the works pace, but that's kind of the exciting thing that whereas before the workplace was very much you had to be in the office nine to five and that was it was one size fits all. Now we've got flexibility to just keep changing and keep evolving as to what the workplaces and I As a business owner, we've got to offer our team, you know, the flexibility to work where they choose where they work best for that particular day of the week. As I don't think we're going to have a fit where, or other fixed position where you say, right, this is now the new normal, the new normal, it's I don't really like as a phrase. But moving forward, we're just going to have to give so much more flexibility, I think, to our employees and our teams, because what the pandemic has shown is that you don't need to be in the office anymore. But there are benefits of being in the office. But there also benefits of having that flexibility, and giving the individual what they need, what they want to choose as their way forward, I think will be the answer. And so, you know, our teams are still looking at, yeah, they've always had the flexibility, really, of choosing where they're going to be for the day for the work, are they going to come to the office? Are they going to work from home, and we've always respected that, that leads to, you know, the work we've been doing on the modern workplace to ensure that our technology and solutions fit what they need?

 

Rob

And, Becky, you were shaking your head vigorously. When the question was asked, what was your perspective on this one?

 

Becky Simms

Yeah, I just don't think anyone does know, at the moment, I think. I think there's this wants to get back into the workplace at the moment, because everyone's craving social interactions. And like you, Rob, I went to London for the first-time last week. And it was lovely. We didn't get much work done, though, because we were all so happy to talk to each other and to be together. And, and the same yesterday. Well, Wednesday, I think there was about 10 of us in the office. in Kent. And again, it was just it was so lovely. But we all kind of came away saying, Oh, we have been a lot less productive today. So I think one of the big balances in the future is going to be how do you? How do you have enough consistency of the office? that it's not just social? Because it's not happening and happening often enough? versus, like, what do you use it for? And how do you use it, but I think that could be one of the problems if it becomes too inconsistent, that it just is just a fun day out that you love catching up with your colleagues, you've got a great culture, everyone enjoys being together. And that's wonderful. But then that becomes an unproductive day. So that is going to be a challenge. But yeah, I just don't think anyone really knows, I think we've got a year or two of trying to feel it out and learn and talk to each other and have really open feedback loops to talk about it.

 

Rob

Absolutely, and Mr. Wilson, to use, you know, obviously with 400 stakeholders to manage even less chance that anybody is coherently on the same page, I would imagine, what was your perspective on this one? Do you think the team already have a good idea of what they are going to want in the future or still figuring it out?

 

John Wilson

Well, I think, you know, flexibility has been mentioned. And I think when you have everybody working from home, then all of a sudden, they become rather less standardized and what they how they feel and what they need, you know, we have people like myself with a dedicated room for an office, we got people working from kitchen tables and landings and other areas. And I think from a from a workplace at the home point of view, lots of people want, they want they want different things based around what the capabilities are at home. And so from a you know, it service, provisioning point of view, certainly we've, we've gone to a point where we were very standards driven, and giving everybody the same thing in a physical office that we knew they were all going to come to and get more or less the same services, think having to think a bit more carefully about what is suitable and appropriate for them. At home, we've been for a phase of people deciding they want to recreate office space at home to realizing maybe that you know, all those screens, they rushed into the office to collect and take home maybe aren't that easily accommodated at home. And I think, you know, we're really trying to think of solutions now that we can offer to people regardless of their geographic location or their home working space that's going to help them to do their job. And you know, just as well, we're just now starting to talk about the office space. Again, I think in our organization, it'll be a while before we're bringing people back in to work regularly there. But the key there is going to be well, what's going to attract people back into the office because they'll no longer be turning up every day because that's what that's what they're expecting to do for their job. They'll need a purpose when they come there, whether that's to work with colleagues or to have a more social experience or to be part of an on premise team while everybody else is remote working. It's really going to be quite a change. I have quite a change of position going forwards.

 

Rob

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think now from our perspective, where we're 75 in the UK, we're 750 globally now. And it's really interesting. Seeing even just the geographic differences, so I had offices based in Denver and Colorado, there's quite a dense kind of core office now about 400 people in it. And, and then we've got, you know, a number of kinds of branch offices or sort of rural locations in the Colorado area. And I think that the plan for the UK is that we'd love to try and replicate that and take advantage of this opportunity to kind of create a more distributed set of locations. But in doing so, it presents a whole nother set of challenges. So I think, just sort of move from that. Okay, there is consensus in the group, people do not know what they want yet, no surprise there. But equally, I think that we are all living the great experiment together. And I think this is kind of an unprecedented moment to test and learn to experiment to try different things into it. And I think our teams are much more accommodating of that. As are we as business leaders, you know, I think everybody except that everyone's kind of in this together, and there is a lot of uncertainty. And so now is the time to try something different. Try something new. And so from our perspective, one of the things that we're trying to kind of come back to my point is that we would love to try and support rural or perhaps, you know, underprivileged areas when it comes to like tech jobs by using remote working and this kind of hybrid work culture to allow us to hire in much more in a much more distributed way. And so, I think, I just like to come to that question really, like, do you? How are you? How are you all seeing that challenge? Are? Are you also considering how this might enable you to actually locate your team in different places? Do you have a longer-term view to allow people to work from further from a central office location, for example? And just sort of interesting to hear where you're thinking Scott to on that topic? And why don't we go, we'll go to Becky first this time.

 

Becky Simms  

Definitely. So, we took lockdown as an opportunity to broaden our recruitment, we had been, as much as we didn't already have a bit of a distributed workforce, we were quite traditional in it was kind of nine to five in the office in Kent, for most of the teams. So, during lockdown, we would like to actually, if we're trying to hire, let's hire the best person for the job. And let's not worry, as long as they're on the right time zone. And it's kind of it can work in that sense. I think there's some practicalities that have to come into it. But yeah, we've hired an SEO director in Spain, who she is very customer facing. But we just took the view that actually, she can come to England, obviously, when restrictions allow for meetings when needed. But actually, I just think the way we work with our clients has changed so much. And we're so much more likely to be doing video calls. And it's just so much more productive on both sides of the relationship. And so yeah, and we've just hired a salesperson in Darby doesn't need to like she can get to London if she needs to, she can travel to meetings. But But why wouldn't we? Why limit ourselves to just who we can find locally. So I love the idea of kind of looking, especially from a tech point of view at those more rural areas, because it has been a case that they haven't necessarily had the access to some of the big companies and jobs that aren't in their in their local sphere. So yeah, we're very much broadening the net. But I think then as we start to come back to the office, we are going to need to look at how do we bridge that gap, because, for example, with our SEO team are all in the office, and she's on a video call as our co director, it's it's not as easy as it doesn't feel as natural. If you're all on a video call. It's a bit different. So I think we've got some challenges there to just look at how do we make that feel right?

 

Rob

Yeah, I totally agree with that. And it's interesting if you if you visit very large global organizations that are tech lead, they figured this out a while ago, if you go to any of Facebook's offices, for example, they have these whole, almost like whole floors of just small meeting rooms with a seat for two people, and a video conferencing unit, just like a hallway of them with little sliding doors all the way down. And one of the things they use those meeting rooms for understand as if they're doing a video conferencing-based meeting with any remote participants, you know, that if possible, they'll all sort of spread out into those spaces so that everybody is on video together, even if, you know two thirds of that team are in the building at the same time. So it's interesting that some businesses seem to have found some of the answers to that already.

And, Mr. Wilson, what's your perspective on this? Is it you know, does this does this offer Tungsten the opportunity to spread out its hiring and locations a little bit or is Is that something you're exploring? Or do you think maybe that doesn't fit with your business? so well?

 

John Wilson

Well, I certainly think that as a London based organisation, we're now going to be recruiting from further afield in, in around the UK for UK based roles. And, and, you know, we've certainly gone from an organisation that was, the start point was that people would be working in the office, to an organisation where we're far ready to accept, that people can provide, you know, the output they need to, from wherever they are.

So, I think that's definitely going to dive in, that's definitely changed, and will, will pretty much stay like plant in terms of looking outside the UK, I think a lot will depend on the sorts of roles and the, what it is we're actually trying to achieve. So, you know, we, we develop software for delivery over the internet. And I think, you know, we've had developers start to, in a typical developer mentality, just want to have previously said, they just want the, in a nice quiet space in the office to do their work to finding themselves at home where things may be a little quieter than they might, they might like. So, I think we'll continue to want to identify locations where we can bring people together. But I completely agree with Becky. And, you know, I personally believe that locations, those, those locations are no longer going to be full of tightly packed desks. And, you know, we're going to be making more use of technologies like sort of Microsoft Surface Hubs and such like this allow you to do this shared whiteboarding and such like, and try to include people who aren't present with teams that are present. And we've done a little bit of that in the past. But I think when we, when we look back at that and look forwards, you know, we're going to need to adjust our approach so that, you know, if we've got a digital nomad somewhere quite distant from the project team, then we're going to be looking for ways to better include, those people whereas previously, we might have been dragging them back into the office to take part in a project workshop or whatever. And those office spaces are going to have, in my opinion, fewer desks, organised to make the most of the space that's available. whether or not we're still concerned about social distancing, I think the Office of the future is going to be more, it's going to be completely differently organized from how it is today.

 

Rob

Yeah, I agree. And I think maybe we'll come back to the office design question, because it's an interesting one. But before we do that, Mr. Haggis, what's your perspective? I mean, I, I get the impression, you've already had the luxury of recruiting in a fairly distributed fashion, having never had that big home base, right, in terms of the model you've always been building? Is this is has this just been a continuation of that view? Or does it broaden your horizons even further? What was your perspective?

 

John Haggis

I think it's validated, the decisions we made when we set up and you know, we're not the only you know, not the only law firm who have gone down this route. But it's validated it for me, because what it's forced is the way that we as lawyers work with our clients to change. So we've done you know, we've sold businesses, we don't big transactions all in the cloud. Whereas before, you'd have meetings in person to go through things in person, clients now used to engaging us remotely, going through documents through, you know, using SharePoint and markup documents together on a teams meeting, all the things that we wouldn't have done before, you know, before the pandemic, we would have sent it by email, get a different version, bag, meet up with a client, it was all very laborious, time consuming, and lo and behold, for the traditional firms, that's great, because it's we can charge for that time.

 

So, because of the way that we work with clients has been forced to change and to really drag itself into a modern world. You know, it doesn't really matter where our lawyers work, which is the approach we took before. So, we've got a team member who works in France at the moment. And when you're on a team's meeting, you have no idea that she's in France, like I have no idea where you guys are right now, you could all be in Timbuktu for all I know, you can be in Denver right now Rob. We just don’t matter. And when you send documents out for signature, you do it for DocuSign. It doesn't matter where you are, when you use data rooms. So we're in the cloud, you're no we're lucky, I suppose in a way in that a lot of our outputs are based on, you know, the great Microsoft Word. So, it's not like we have to have big physical infrastructure that we're sending out to places. And so for me, it's just validated that work remotely and to be, you know, in the cloud and just being available like this. And, you know, from your perspectives from the client side, you know, when is the last time you demanded to go and meet your lawyer in person and just sit down in the room with them? You know, even if it wasn't for COVID? You know, it's you don't have to do this anymore. So, yeah, for us, we're recruiting people, and we're, you know, our employees, we say, look your work best wherever that is. And if that's two days a week at home, or you need to make a decision that morning, that's fine, you will have the same experience working remotely as you will in the office.

 

Rob

Yeah, that's fantastic. John, just a quick follow up question. Do do when you're, you know, often when you're dealing with the type of work that you do, there might be some counsel on the other side of a transaction or engagement? Have you found that more traditional firms have had to meet you in your, you know, in your happy place? Have they come to your court, as it were, and they are then more comfortable appealing digitally?

 

John Haggis

Most of them, most of our experiences have been like that they're still out there. And they don't want to do a video call. They want you to do the traditional phone call. And you say, Well, why don't we load the document online? And go through it together? and mark it up together? So Oh, no, no, we can't do that. I need to go and think about it. And then we're sending out, you know, sensitive information through links in SharePoint. So, we can control who sees and who accesses and what they can do to that document. And other law firms are far will simply say, No, you can't do that. So, there is still some kind of resistance to from traditional firms with their way of working. But I mean, it's been a wholesale change, I think the way that lawyers have negotiated deals and work together, collaborative collaboratively with other firms. We're not there yet.

 

Rob

No, and I think, you know, you pointed out, perhaps one of the factors that might impede the change, which is billable hours are as a result of the old way of doing things, right. So then as a commercial barrier, it can be challenging, but I think, for me, that's great, what a lot of positives.

 

 

 

John Haggis  

I think that's, it's, it's been that disruptive to our industry, that if you're just charging on a time spent basis, there are faster, more efficient ways of doing things using technology, where if you're just going to try it on that model, you're going to shoot yourself in the foot. And you're then finally given clients a lot of what they wanted, which was just price certainty. So it's forcing you to change every kind of aspects. And you know, as a young firm , as a new firm, that's why we set up to challenge all those normal and to operate as a modern business, as opposed to kind of sticking with a traditional 1980s and 1990s. business model, but with email.

 

Rob

Yeah, absolutely. I, I bought a house a few months ago, and was extremely frustrated by the amount of paper that had to be signed by hand and put in envelopes as a big advocate of reforestation. And some of you will know, the idea of cutting trees down to sign them with ink just seems absolutely insane to me. And, and my lawyer, my lawyer said, What did he say?

It's been this way since the 1800s. So it might take a little while yet until it changes. And in any case, certainly not before I've long retired, and demanded that I signed the papers.

 

So yeah, it's still a way to go, I think. But it's great that, you know, the likes of Kepler, Wolf, under your stewardship, leading the change, and, you know, very encouraging to hear some of that stuff. So, let's come back to the point, Mr. Wilson made about the office space and the reconfiguration of what an office might be, you know, I think there's really is some, some mileage in that suggestion that maybe offices become, rather than a kind of, particularly London offices, you know, a dense, a sort of dense desk focused environment, where you're thinking really about how many people can you fit into the room without somebody dying from, from the crash, or, you know, even those of us live in slightly more rural areas, just thinking about, ultimately, it's a place where you have workstations and maybe a few meeting rooms, it does seem like that type of focused work, actually, in many cases, does what can be done better from a remote location.

 

So, it seems to me like office spaces probably do become that point of collaboration, a place where maybe you have your quarterly meeting as a team and all come together and, you know, have a social event afterwards. A place where you meet a client and my thesis is that first meeting first calls with clients will be zoom meetings, second meetings, if they're, if it's worth it will be the ones that people do in person. I think that's where it goes personally. And then maybe you get back to the afterwards.

 

And that coming back to you, Mr. Wilson, what's your view on the future of tungsten? Is office space? How do you see it? In a year's time? Do you think it'll look very different?

 

John Wilson

Well, it's a great time to ask me that question because we're in the middle of creating a new model for for our offices. And so the model I'm pursuing is really around from an IT perspective, at least zero footprint. So we've already heavily bought into cloud technologies, but like, probably most organisations, we still have dependencies in our offices, from, you know, legacy applications to phone systems. And one of the things that the lockdown has given us is a real impetus to start clearing these technologies out of the office. So our first, our first step change is out in Malaysia, where we have a building coming to the end of lease, we've removed all of the technologies that we need to put into such a space, to the point where we're now able to go to a provider that's providing internet access coffee machines, places to sit rooms to meet, and from an IT point of view, very little else.

 

And I guess my view is that in the future, the services provided in a tungsten office will probably be less to do with it, and more to do with Office facilities and amenities that people might hope to find, when they go there to work together, just as when they go downstairs into the kitchen, they expect to be able to make a cup of tea and get a biscuit. I think, personally, that organizations, depending on their size, are almost, you know, often going to have places to go to they're less likely to own or have a serious least type of stake in them in the future. And there'll be supplemented not just with people working from their homes, but from, you know, from other locations, around various countries, you know, we see stories about pubs opening up temporary office space, and if you can do your work from anywhere, and maybe you don't necessarily want to do it or you it's not convenient for you to do that in the home all the time, then perhaps the Office of the future is going to be a, you know, a shared space that you can take for a short term anywhere. And you know, one of my responsibilities is make sure you can still reach your phone service, you can still access information securely. And while you're using your company's equipment, or your own equipment, we're not putting up risk information that in our case, we might be holding for processing for customers.

 

Rob

Yeah, and, and, you know, this has always been the great promise of the cloud is consistent work environment, from any location from any device. And I think a lot of businesses got there, and some time ago, but plenty more still a way off that that reality for their whole team. So, it's great to hear a bit about that continued direction of travel and, and coming to Becky, as an agency owner, someone who is very familiar with the pub being their office, I'm sure, Becky is probably thinking that doesn't sound that different to how it was before. And but I haven't, you know, joking apart, it would be lovely to hear a bit about you, your, your vision for the future of your office space, because I know, you know, agencies, the office is a real kind of cultural hub. And there's a real you know, typically there's a kind of vibrancy and a real character to an agency's office, it's a place where clients like to go to spend the day. It's very collaborative, you know, they're often quite cool environments. And you know, certainly a biscuit is available and probably a bottle of champagne and god knows what else in the fridge in most agency offices so and yeah, Becky love to hear your your future, your vision for the future of your office. And just to touch on if you can that question about clients because I think for you guys obviously that meeting with clients, whether it's a pitch or a, you know, account management meeting or whatever is so important. Do you think that continues to happen in that future space or somewhere different? So over to you?

 

Becky Simms

Yeah, definitely. So we were in a weird places Reflect Digital and that when we went down into lockdown last year, we only had about five months in our brand new beautiful office, which actually I think Wirehive, you guys with the same I think you'd recently moved as well. So, we suddenly got this big space and it was kind of the next part of our journey and we thought He used it, which is such a shame. But being there this week actually was a really nice reminder of, we did some collaborative work on a pitch a couple of us on Wednesday. And it was so much easier than it was virtually.

 

So, I think it is that collaboration space. And But what was interesting, there was only 10 of us in the office. And at one point of four meeting rooms were busy because people were on calls. So we're currently looking at, we're going to need to put more meeting room spaces in little small kind of booth style, or two or three people that can get on a video call. Because if you're in the office, even if you're there for something collaborative, there's a good chance, you're also going to have some calls to do within the day, and you need that space.

 

So, I definitely see it as less being banks of desks. But then it also begs the question, I think one of the things that's been on our mind a lot, is the junior staff, like how do they learn when they're not in an office environment, and that that osmosis that I think we forget about sometimes when we're long in the tooth, and we've been working for years, etc, how much you just soak up from sitting next to someone that's done it for years, and you're not even necessarily they're not directly training you at that point. But you're just hearing it going on around you. And I think that for me is one of the concerns of a more remote world because it does mean that it's going to be harder and slower for them to come on in their journey.

 

So, I think that's one thing that there will still need to be some banks of desks and ways that people can go and work in that way. So that so that we don't hamper our juniors coming into the world and slow up their ability to get up to speed and become the super sales we want them to be. And on the client point. Yeah, I definitely I agree Exactly. With what you said, Rob around, I think the first call will be zoom and video call, then I cannot wait to get back to pitch again, a room, I've got a pitch today. And it's just so hard, because you can't keep your eye on everyone you can't see if you've got their attention, you do lose their attention, sometimes even in the best of pitches. And it's to be able to hold a room again and read a room properly. Rather than read a virtual room, this is going to be wonderful and just to get that kind of culture fit between client and agency and, and all the kind of creativity that comes from being able to bring them into your office or go to theirs and see what their hopes like as well. But um, yeah, I think then the pattern of how we work with our clients is changed a lot though. And it will be then video calls and quarterly catch ups followed by a pub trip, etc. Because, yeah,

 

Becky Simms

I think everyone, we talked to our clients more than we ever have done before, which I think is one of the best things that's come out of the last year, I think we work more collaboratively with our clients. And it didn't feel broken before it felt like it was working. But actually now, it's like, how did we get on without doing this? And that ability to just hop on a video call and have a 10 minute check in? So yeah, it's been big changes for all for the good. I think

 

Rob

that is a really interesting comment. So, let's just come back to that briefly. So, do you is that is that as is it as simple as that? It's easier to get a half hour zoom call in the diary with a client than it is a two hour meeting in person. Is that why you feel and also I suppose people aren't as busy themselves, they're not traveling every day, they have more available hours in the day, it's that simple.

 

Becky Simms

I definitely think that travel is a huge part of it. Because even so if I was going into London, I might be able to squeeze four meetings in a day, but WOW you're running around London, and you're hopping between tubes, etc. And by the last meeting, you're probably not informed because you're ready to go home and sit on the sofa and relax. So that's part of that. But also, yeah, just think people, we had this technology for years. And we did used to use video calls, but not to the extent and everyone's just got so comfortable with it. That actually now like so often you might have two or three emails back and forth. And then it ends up with Should we just jump on a call about this? And but previously, that just wouldn't have been a thing. And, and yes, we'd speak on the phone as well. But I don't know, just everyone's got so much more comfortable with it. And I think about I also think there's a world where there's too many calls. So that's definitely been in our recent board meetings has been one of the things like how do we help the team to get the right level of calls, if you book an hour call. And if it's done in half an hour, that's okay. Like you don't need to drag it out for the hour and just trying to help people manage things differently. And I think there's probably a big piece of training in all of that for all of us because it is it's a different world. And I know I have days still that are just back-to-back calls. And it probably is as draining as running around London. So I think there's something that we're still all learning in how to manage that properly. But yeah, no, I do think just Everyone's so much more open to talking on a call. And yet it's very rare that that someone either doesn't want a video call or doesn't want their camera on, for example.

 

Rob

Yeah, absolutely. And I think some of the feedback from our sales teams is that it's easier to get somebody to have a quick zoom call with you than it was to get them to have a first meeting previously as well, which is interesting. So, it's like the barrier to getting a first engagement to come Got a bit lower. But my sympathies on pitching such a personal thing for agencies that so much effort and energy goes into it must be torture trying to do it on scene but hopefully the end is nigh for that but I'm so Mr. haggis to you a man with no office? Do you ever get one is the officer status symbol? Ultimately? Do you need one do you think one day or not?

 

John Haggis

we do we do have an office, but it's a small office, it's more of a collaboration space, you know, give it that kind of title. And for me, I think it's still important to have somewhere where you can go and meet and collaborate in person. And so, we've, we've started off with a really small, small room, and we're getting bigger and bigger. And for us, you know, my vision for my firm is actually we're going to need somewhere bigger. Because I think it's more important to create a workspace or collaboration space where you're pulling people in, as opposed to having to, you know, force people to go into the office, you want to give them a reason to come into that space. And so make it attractive, make it usable, make it comfortable, make it more a bit more like home, you know, that kind of friendly workspace as opposed to just the rows and rows of desks, getting as many people as you possibly can into the space.

 

I think just to pick up one thing that Becky said, which is really important, especially for all businesses really, is how you train the juniors? Because working remotely? Yes, they can just quickly get on a team chat with you, or what have you. But I'm missing out on so much interaction, when I'm on a call with a client, which might go on and on where they might pick up, you know, nuggets of information, or when I'm dealing with another law firm when negotiating they might miss out on that. So, for us, we're going to be saying that, you know, for the junior members, they do need to come into the office, you know, two or three times a week because that is how they're going to get the most out. And we can choose what days those are. But I think if you're a junior member, there isn't any escape from that. Personally, I think that is one of the challenges of working remotely is how do you properly train up? And how does someone properly kind of pick up all that knowledge, which, as great as you know, teams and zoom are? I think it's right that even though we're working remotely, it's still more personal, because we're doing so many video calls and actually seeing our clients and jumping on a video call after a couple of emails. And there are some aspects of working in person which you know, you can't replace, and nor should you try to I think i think so for us. Yeah, we do have an office and we are We can't wait to get back to it, you know, two or three times a week?

 

Rob

Yeah, it's the training issue. And that kind of challenge of being someone early in career joining a new business, perhaps you haven't established that kind of social capital comes from being part of a team for a while. And those kind of unstructured learning moments osmosis, as Becky put it, which I think is absolutely the right way to put it is one challenge. And

 

John Haggis

and what I mentioned is, the flip side of it all is actually going to visit your client’s office and getting a feeling and a vibe for who they are and how big they are, and, and what their dynamics are. I always enjoyed, you know, walking out the office and going to my clients where they work and where they hang out. Because that's how you get a really good kind of sense of what your relationship could be with that clients. And I missed that as well. So, I hope our clients will keep having offices, too.

 

 

Rob

Yeah, I think, I think I don't think I've spoken to a business owner recently who has said that they no longer plan to have an office, I think there was a lot of that sort of narrative at the start of this whole experiment that we've all been living through.

 

But it does seem that the, the context has shifted somewhat now to this, this one that we're all discussing of, actually, collaboration is really important and better than in person.

Training, it really is so difficult to, to create in a consistent way if you have to organize every part of it. So having that kind of unstructured learning stuff happening through osmosis around teams is really important. And, you know, onboarding is really, really fun, as well, I mean, of all the people in our team, those are the ones I felt the most sorry for? Well, probably those with more than one small child would be high on the list.

 

But then right up there with them, it would be new members of the team who, you know, how on earth do you learn the, you know, the office jokes, and the slang and all that kind of the rituals of the tribe, right that every business has, I just think it's so hard to pick that stuff up on slack and zoom and teams. And so I do wonder if, you know, fast forward a year from now, two years from now, maybe actually, despite that, the efficiencies of remote working and all the other positives, that it's easy for us to focus on now, we may find Actually, there is a bit of reversion to the mean, there's, you know, there was an article, I think, in The Guardian this week about how, you know, great sort of clickbait headline to work from home experiment has failed, right was the kind of was the was the positioning. And really what they were, what they were trying to unpack was this idea, this sort of notion that actually people are really clamouring to get back to the office and have a bit more social interaction, which is inevitable. And then but where does the needle land? In the end? It's really interesting. And, you know, to that point about, our teams don't know what they want yet. Well, I don't think we have any idea what we want or what they're gonna want, either, right?

 

Like, I don't think as leaders, we have any better idea. We're all just making this up as we go along, ultimately. And so, it's, it's fascinating time. And we've got a we got about five minutes left, I think let's just round out with predictions. predictions are a dangerous game, but they're always entertaining.

 

So, there we go. I've sort of kicked off with one, which is, you know, I think that I think that ultimately, people will spend more time in offices than they think they will today. Like I think if you ask people today, how long they think they'll spend in offices, I suspect in two or three years, it will be more than that. I don't think it'll ever be five days a week again. But my instinct is, you know, three days a week is probably the average, and that's where the needle will land. And so that's my first prediction. And my second prediction is that, I do think that businesses on the whole will spread out, they're hiring much more than they ever have before, which will do wonders for diversity for pro businesses, but also will enable the regeneration of areas of our country that have really struggled to create good employment opportunities, which I think is great. So those are my two predictions for the future of the workplace. Mr. Wilson, give us a prediction or two, what do you think?

 

John Wilson

Okay, well, I guess, I think, you know, my first prediction is on the basis of recognizing that, you know, internationally, not everybody's at the same place at the moment. So, my first prediction is, it's going to take quite a while for a lot of these behavioural things we've been talking about to settle down. You know, we're in a great place in the UK with vaccinations and all the rest of it. But there are lots of other countries that have, you know, different social attitudes. They're in different places on vaccination and it's going to take a longer time for them to move out of the threat of the sort of lockdowns that were just moving away from my so my second prediction, I guess, is, as people, you know, several people that are going to come to the point where they realise maybe they're, you know, they're not working from home, they're living in the office, and yes, they are going to want to reclaim their, their home space. And I think definitely will want to be working somewhere other than home, which may not be the company, premises, but it may be somewhere that the company facilitates for them to work or, or somewhere that, you know, maybe they're prepared to invest in to work from themselves.

 

Rob

Some, some, some great predictions. Thank you, sir. And Mr. Haggis, said the dangerous game of predictions, what do you think?

 

John Haggis

I would predict that we're going to end up on electronic we're going to end up with a happier, more relaxed workforce. Because rather than being forced to come to the office every day, they can now kind of balance what's going on in their lives with their work and still perform their work to the same standard. So, I think we're probably going to have a happier workforce for this new, modern work working. I want them out other predictions I would say is that the old attitudes are of can you work from home are gone forever? I don't think they will ever be a question mark around it. I think this has proven to look to stale old businesses who would say you can't possibly work from home, you must you know, work in office, they've now been forced to show that actually you can work from home, you can work remotely. And so, I think those old attitudes are gone forever. I don't think we'll have those coming back.

 

Rob

I certainly hope so great prediction, maybe the mill owner is finally dead. Who knows? Time will tell. And Becky last by no means least give us some predictions.

 

Becky Simms

So, I think now's the time to invest in some office design companies, because I think they've got a brilliant job ahead of them of designing what the future workplaces look like. And technology, which is a great place. With the people, we've gotten the call today to be thinking about how we make it easier, I think he's going to vary so much dependent on location, I think for like with our main hub being in Kent, a lot of our team members are like 20-30 minutes from the office, actually, we have a different opportunity to those that have got an hour and a half commute.

 

So actually, doing a half day in the office, collaborate in the morning, work from home, do your calls in the afternoon is something which depending on on your setup, may or may not work. But that's kind of what I see working for us, I can see our team, using the office much more kind of transiently and coming in and going and not necessarily being there for a whole day and having that flexibility. I think the rise of continued co working spaces.

 

So, I think as both the John's have touched on as well, having somewhere that you might you may even be investing in yourself to work, but so that you're out of your home, and you've got somewhere different to go. But yeah, for us, it's going to just be focusing on where you do your best work. And that's the thing, isn't it and trusting your team? And I think that's what's come out of this is that ability to trust our teams that we don't need to be watching them. It's not being in the office all day and seeing that they're working. It's trusting them and, and working much more based on deliverables, then they'd be worried did you do nine to help us five o'clock every minute? It's what was the output?

 

Rob

Yeah, I totally, totally agree with all of that. What a fantastic conversation. It's been thank you so much to our guests to john and john, or Mr. Wilson, Mr. Haggis, as I've grown to affectionately refer to them, and probably Henceforth, well, even when they're not in each other's company, and, and to the magnificent, Becky Sims.

 

Thank you guys, that was great. I think, a nice positive note to end on. You know, if nothing else, it does seem clear that this has opened the eyes of businesses and the teams that work within them globally, that there can be a different way and a bit more flexibility does work. And, you know, many of those trends. And if there's a in neuroscience, there's this idea that to create a change in behaviour, there has to be a trigger point. And once a trigger point happens, people can shift. And so actually, a lot of these changes probably would never have happened without a major trigger, as you know, such as a pandemic. But now that trigger has happened.

 

It does create this amazing opportunity for change. And so, you know, it's really nice to hear your diverse perspectives, given the different industries you've all represent. But that, you know, that that recurring theme of flexibility, you know, physical spaces being used for collaboration, you know, used to extending the recruitment pond and maybe widening that net little bears is all just so nice to hear. So, thank you to all of you and to all of our viewers, I should say to the audience, thank you so much on behalf of the audience. Thank you guys for your time and your insight. And that was Wirelive Episode 11 thank you so much for listening and or watching goodbye.