Why face-to-face meetings and collaboration are vital to business productivity

Yesterday, Andy Haldane, a Chief Economist at the Bank of England, expressed his opinion that working from home is stifling creativity, and that the value of virtual discussions is far inferior to those that happen face-to-face, where trust can be built in person. The impact on productivity as a consequence was highlighted, too, which may have a long-lasting impact on the UK's economy at this pivotal recovery stage.

Indeed, the business world has faced challenges throughout the whole of the Coronavirus period, and continues to face uncertainty as regions enter different phases of tiered restrictions. For now, the latest Government advice remains: work from home if possible. The world of work will certainly have been changed due to the impact of the COVID pandemic. Whether firms strive to reduce their spend on overheads such as expensive offices, or they offer more flexible working terms for their employees as home and life barriers become blurred, the future of physical meet ups has changed for the long-term.

As one of the most challenging periods in living memory for businesses, The Future Strategy Club (https://futurestrategyclub.com) - a lean and transparent agency of high-calibre freelance consultants - have pulled together their top business brains to provide a robust post-COVID Survival Guide, designed to ensure that firms come through this period stronger than ever. For the FSC, it is clear that the meaning of physical space has changed forever, and employers should approach work with a new, more flexible, mindset:

Gurtej Sandhu, a member of the FSC and former Digital Director at The Times:

"I have found it almost suffocating working all day, everyday in my home office; it limits creativity. Walking the dog has really helped me. A creative space is a thinking space. Zoom can be exhausting, for example. It requires hours of concentration and focus. After lockdown, the aim of a healthy work/life balance will finally be made a reality by those who are in a position to make it happen. Business leaders have realised that they need to enjoy life, make the impact they want to make and have a more enriching lifestyle.

Lockdown has shown that for thousands of businesses, transformation is happening - whether this is changes to our workspace or finding a fresh recognition of the value of human contact. Companies have realised that the process of sharing ideas is highly important, and this needs to be considered when firms are looking to transform."

Hema Bakhshi, a member of the FSC and former Director of the Future of Work at Santander:

"Post-Covid, human connection will remain hugely important. People need to be able to collaborate, have conversations and create together. The period of lockdown has demonstrated that there are ways to get that value remotely but coming together brings a different dynamic face-to-face. I would therefore hope that, while the traditional 9-5 becomes more flexible, people can still come together. Perhaps the meaning and purpose of the office can evolve so that they are used more creatively and used differently to help people tap into their sense of community and innovation."

Laurence Shorter, author and a member of the FSC : 

"I have learned that I do not want to go back to the working habits I had before. I have learned to cherish the creation of space to think. I’ve learned to give myself time to get clear on what matters and bring this into my day-today work. I would like to go back to face-to-face interaction; but in a more strategic and discerning way. Coming together for creative tasks or for a certain purpose will remain important but carrying out the actual work may now happen separately."

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