When I applied for a role at Maxim in 2001 I had to send my CV to the one shared email address that every employee used. When I joined a few months later, broadband had just been installed and it was a revelation to be able to use the internet without thinking about how many minutes we were spending online and for which client.
There was certainly no such thing as virtual meetings, remote access to files or even smartphones that enabled us to access emails away from our desktop. It was definitely a simpler time and we probably worked fewer hours because we could escape the office, but now we’re here I’m all for embracing the technology.
Pre-pandemic, I have to confess our rules on going to the office were rather rigid and working from home was very much the exception. Now we have a much more hybrid approach and – so far – it seems to suit us better.
It now seems crazy to me that we would travel for almost 90 minutes to have an hour’s meeting before making the return journey, meaning we’d spent a good half day out of the office.
Using Teams and Zoom makes a lot of sense and while I think face-to-face meetings and human interaction are still important, a quick chat online can be invaluable. You just need to watch out for the colleague who drops a meeting in your diary because they see a gap you thought would be perfect for a bite to eat and a trip to the loo.
There are other advantages too as although there will always be some people who struggle to access online events, for many the world has been opened up. We can now run a briefing for MPs and expect a good turnout because it’s easier for them to attend, while community engagement events can be accessed by those who find it difficult to be there in person.
There are numerous tools available, many of which are free, to encourage engagement whether you’re running an online event, face-to-face or a combination of the two. Take a look at Slido, Mentimeter, Jamboard and Miro as a starting point.
Our annual Kent Press & Broadcast Awards ceremony has been virtual for two years due to Covid. We had to learn to run online events faster than we would have liked, but we received a lot of compliments, and it was nice to hear that entrants enjoyed sharing the viewing experience with their friends and families at home. Another advantage of the digital world.
In March 2020, after a week of working from home, we thought it would be nice to meet friends and colleagues on a Friday night via Zoom. The Maxim Arms opened its virtual doors and is continuing to provide a weekly place to laugh, chat and have a moan, always accompanied by a few drinks and a decent selection of snacks. I now ‘see’ these friends far more frequently than previously and I don’t even have to worry about getting home.
I’m looking forward to more face-to-face meetings and events, but the one thing I’m grateful to Covid for is accelerating the ability to do more remotely.
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