Quo vadis, communication?7. January 2021 Published by Jana Greyling
Raphael Dörr May 12, 2020 via LinkedIn
The coronavirus crisis has presented all sectors of industry with huge challenges within a very short space of time. From abandoned work, strict protection and hygiene requirements at the workplace, or moving to work from home – hardly anyone has been spared. While, until recently, working from home was still the much sought-after place of quiet to be able to concentrate on work – no distraction from colleagues, your partner at the office (if you have one) and the kids at school – for millions of people it has now become stressful everyday life and a daily double burden, even long before the coronavirus crisis, as a study by the Institute of Economics and Social Research (WSI) of the trade union-related Hans Böckler Foundation shows. In light of the current events, it’s easy to picture how this double burden is even greater. That has an impact not only on our immediate living environment, but also on our communication.
Communication: First hurdles overcome
Let’s be positive and assume that the initial waves of chaos and distraction of working from home subsided after a while: The work area is set up, the kids are perhaps back at school or at least occupied, the double burden of childcare and work is becoming less – you’ve got yourself organized. Despite all these improvements and a simultaneous return to the usual place of work, working from home is in all probability something that will be with many employees for even longer – and for many it remains a popular option.
Working effectively from home
Not every company is unquestioningly open to the issue of working from home. There’s often a fear that employees work less or more ineffectively from home, like to extend the lunch break somewhat, or it’s difficult to reach them.
The fact is that coronavirus has forced us to work just as effectively from home as at the office. In the last few months, it wasn’t the odd Friday of the week that was used to tie up loose ends from work in peace on the sofa at home. No, working from home became a permanent situation that we had to live with and, in part, still have to do so. As unpleasant as that may be for some, it has nevertheless shown us that it’s possible to work from home effectively and well connected – as long as the right technology is available there.
The pandemic therefore already served as a huge accelerator for digitalization in the last few weeks, and it’s to be expected that the leap forward will also be massive in the coming months and years. At the latest since the outbreak of the pandemic, virtual communication solutions like Circuit, Skype or Microsoft Teams have becomes established at many companies. These only become really effective, however, with the right infrastructure, starting with a strong Internet connection and the matching device fit for work.
Alternative to cut-off sentences? Fixed-line network!
For anyone who doesn’t want to simply put up with unstable Internet connections due to the higher network load, there is fortunately also another alternative: the good old fixed-line network. Time delays, cut-off sentences and unwanted echoes can then be avoided – during important businesses calls, in particular, it’s worth its weight in gold. Figures on network usage by Vodafone show that more and more users in Germany are relying on just that: Compared to a normal month, phone traffic via DSL and the fiber optic network rose by a substantial 80 percent. An ergonomic device with a direct interface for simple connectivity not only promises convenience but also secure and stable communication with crystal-clear voice quality, making it a sensible investment in the new second workplace.
Changed frequency of business trips
The current phase not only impacts our choice of workplace but also especially business appointments. Phone and video conferences currently have to work just as well as meeting in person, since it will not be possible in the coming weeks and months to travel and hence also go on business trips as usual. Airline managers are also wondering what will happen with business trips after the crisis. Gerald Wissel from the aviation consulting company Airborne Consulting is convinced that companies will only return very slowly to business trips, given that it also depends on the willingness of employees to travel on business again. On the one hand, that may be unsettling and disconcerting. On the other, this time can be used to think about how much money and resources a company can save as a result. While it was still quite normal just a short time ago for some people to take the plane or train three times a week and travel from Frankfurt to Munich for a meeting, this has now been replaced by the video conference. And let’s be honest: The good intention of working effectively from the train is usually gone just as quickly as the Internet connection there. By contrast, at the office or working from home, it’s a stone’s throw from the laptop to the virtual meeting, with no time lost on traveling there and back.
Impact of changed communication
Whether there will still be business travel as before in the future remains to be seen. If not, then we’ll not only protect the environment but also the travel budgets of numerous companies. Conversely, however, business hotels, catering and also the transport infrastructure will be affected by the decline. Communication in the business context will in any case change in the long term even beyond the current situation. Working from home, made possible by good technology, and virtual collaboration instead of business trips have the potential to greatly simplify our working life. One thing in particular that will be interesting to see is whether the altered communication and working options will also change the culture at our company. And, if it does – what direction will it take?