Trends for the 2021 workspace


In this episode of Texthelp Talks we hear from our CEO and Founder, Martin McKay. Martin sits down with us to explore what the biggest trends are for the 2021 workspace. He also takes a look back at our key learnings from 2020, reflecting on what has been a year like no other.

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Transcript

Shauna Hanna:

Hello and welcome everybody, to the Texthelp Talks podcast. This is the place where we gather experts covering a wide range of topics from education right through into the workplace. If you haven't done so already, please be sure to subscribe through your preferred podcast player or streaming service so that you never miss an episode. Today you're hearing from me, Shauna Hannah. I'm the content strategist at Texthelp. And on this episode, we've got a special interview with our CEO, Martin McKay. A lot of companies used technology before, but they didn't quite use it in the same way that they're having to use it now. So what do you think are the biggest lessons that the corporate world will have learned?

Martin McKay:

Probably the biggest thing is that we don't have to wear trousers to work anymore. Zoom. I think the fact that people can do, can make, and be productive over Zoom or over Google Meet or over Google Teams is the big thing. Again, culturally, it's better for an organization to be together physically in the same space and work together and learn together. But as a short-term intermission, it's absolutely possible for us to disperse and work from home and be productive.

Martin McKay:

I know at Texthelp as a software company, we have 180 people in three offices, and we were able to close our offices, disperse to home, and not miss a beat. We were just able to keep working. And if we can do that, anyone who has got a largely digital business can certainly do that as well. It's very different in physical manufacturing. A good few friends of mine are in physical manufacturing business or distribution. And obviously it's not easy for them. But I know one, for example, has just accelerated an e-commerce business where he had to be able to deal with people not being able to come into his stores. I think, again, it's accelerated things. It's made video conferencing acceptable and normal, and it's probably going to increase e-commerce.

Shauna Hanna:

So I guess connected to that, in the same way that we see it becoming a completely transformative effect in education, do you see for those who can't do it, a complete change, and when we look to the future of work and flexible working arrangements and things as well?

Martin McKay:

Yes, I think it's been transformative from a work perspective. I think not only has it forced us to realize that people can work from home and they're fine and they're productive and that's not a problem, I really also do believe that from a sustainability perspective, this is going to be good because I know as a business for the last six months, we haven't been traveling so much. We haven't been burning so much jet fuel and burning diesel as staff drive around to meet customers, because we're doing it all digitally. We can do more in a day because we're not wasting time traveling, but we're also not wasting energy and creating carbon from travel. So I do think this is going to be probably, I'm sure travel will return to some extent. I don't think it's going to return to the same extent that it used to.

Shauna Hanna:

2020 has been an absolutely crazy a year that nobody ever could have projected, for businesses of all kinds. So as a CEO and a company founder, what do you think we can expect in 2021 in terms of business trends?

Martin McKay:

Hopefully 2021 is not like 2020. Hopefully we get back to some kind of normality. I would say that there will be probably a little bit more digital and a little bit less travel, but hopefully as human beings, we get together a little bit more and can share the same physical space again. I'm sure that there's going to be more working from home, but I think that 100% working from home would be destructive to the culture of an organization. And it's important for us to get together, do goofy things in the same physical space, enjoy ourselves together a little bit. Because being on video conferences all day is not a good thing. And I also think that, and I know that this is not just the case for me, but some other colleagues that I've been speaking to, the work-life balance has become a little bit more blurred.

Martin McKay:

And I do think that as organizations, we need to look after the welfare of our staff and look after their mental health and look after their work-life balance a little bit better, because it's very easy when you're just walking into the next room and sitting down in front of your laptop to start a work day that you can end up working two or three more hours. I think organizationally, we need to bear in mind that we may need to manage the work-life balance a little bit better for our staff.

Shauna Hanna:

So slightly connected, do you think we'll see any shifts in terms of leadership strategies required in the coming year?

Martin McKay:

I think that, hopefully after March, things will get back to normal, but March is still quite a long way away. And for the next five months, we are going to have to try to make sure that the thing that keeps us together as an organization, the fun that we have, and the face-to-face relationships that we're missing and the non-work communication, the conversations that we have when we're in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, those conversations are missing from work at the moment. I think as leaders, we need to find a way of facilitating them and getting that fun and those non-work interactions back into our work day even while we're dispersed. So I think that's an important aspect of the future of work. And also we need to be doing more for mental health and wellbeing because people are dispersed and a proportion of those people live alone and are not interacting with people to the same extent, and we need to support them over time.

Shauna Hanna:

Thanks so much, Martin, for joining us for this special episode and thanks to you all for listening.