The B2B working week in a post lockdown world

Working from home has been common practice for a lot of us in B2B for many years, but with the current unprecedented levels of government restrictions touching the majority of the workforce, most of us are now spending our entire working week at home.  As this inevitably continues for weeks and months, it will become routine for us, our colleagues, our customers and our suppliers.

When free movement of people returns, will most of us be expected to fall back into our previous routines or will the lockdown influence a systemic change?

The B2B working week in a post lockdown world

The practical benefits to businesses of a displaced workforce are the cost savings delivered by the reduction in facilities required to accommodate office based staff, measured against any notional loss in productivity.

Will we finally see the end of the traditional 9am to 5pm, 5 day working week”

This period of lockdown is forcing companies to stress test, evolve and refine their remote working processes and, when normality returns, the results will be scrutinised by senior management teams in businesses everywhere.  The fallout will shape the future of the working week for us all and maybe even for the generations that follow.

While numbers can be crunched and financial conclusions drawn relatively easily, far more difficult to determine are the societal changes that may follow from a workforce that has become used to communicating remotely.

Will we finally see the end of the traditional 9am to 5pm, 5 day working week, possibly replaced by something more fragmented yet more productive?

Compare the benefits to working parents, and their productivity, of 6pm Zoom meetings from home, as opposed to face to face meetings out of the office during traditional working hours.

In B2B, the etiquette has generally been to favour face to face meetings – particularly in the case of new business prospects and customers.  Will we feel less inclined to ask a potential supplier to travel x hours to meet us for the first time, post lockdown, and when we’re being asked to do so, will we be less willing?

Our unique personalities and character traits will shape how we deal with the virtual meeting dynamic, prolonged isolation from colleagues and the blurring of home and workplace delineation.

History shows that those of us that exit any turbulent situation successfully are those that anticipate how the pieces that are in flux will settle, rather than those who assume they will fall as they were before.  One of the most dangerous sayings in business has always been “this is the way we’ve always done it.