Corona Virus and The Great Work From Home Event
“Do you realise we are living through a future History GCSE question,” my daughter observed around three weeks ago. Indeed, the Great Global Lockdown of 2020 will be remembered for many years hence and much will be written about it. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine some of the consequences of this unique moment.At British Tags we have been able to put into practice something we were preparing for – the Great Work From Home experiment. Was it good fortune or great foresight that saw our MD sign on the dotted line to upgrade our server at the end of 2019, a move which has allowed all of us to log in from wherever we are in the UK and act like we had never abandoned our Guildford premises for the safety of home? Whichever, it meant that our customer database and accounts computer programme no longer whinged and stuttered when we signed in from Brighton or Birmingham and immediately “working from home” was a much more productive activity. Huge thanks to Ramsac IT for their help with that project – we hardly noticed that the guts of our business tech was being ripped out and rebuilt last November. Matt there is a star and he may well get one of our new customised sample medals with branded ribbon as a thank you. Lucky Matt!
And then again, weirdly, our Deputy MD thought we need a new VOIP phone system at around the same time as we were getting our new server. No idea why he woke up one day and decided ‘new phones’ was his new mantra since our old system seemed pretty good to me and worked fine, but then I’m not a millenial. “Had he had an out-of-body experience?” I wondered, before shrugging it off and getting back to my mailmerge. But who knew that what ‘new phones’ actually meant was ‘unplug office phone, take it home, plug it into wifi and act like you are in the office’? Utterly brilliant! During February when we could see the darkening clouds of Covid19 approaching the UK and we had purchased as much alcohol-based sanitiser as our online office grocery account would allow, we started an expanded ‘work from home’ test. And what can I tell you? Customers can still call us on our office number, and one of us picks it up in Braintree, Bognor or Barnstaple and forwards it via normal office extension to the relevant person. It seems that bespoke branded bags are still in demand, as are customised medals , pin badges and swing tickets, so not everything has come to a juddering halt. We might even sell some of my favourite new product – fully biodegrable potato starch ‘plastic’ bags , completely customised and branded. You really do need to ask us for some samples of these – they are solid and strong and once your customer takes them home they can then use them in their kitchen food waste bin – brilliant.
Three weeks and a bit on and we British Taggers are all sitting in our bedrooms, kitchens or living rooms, draining our home WIFI, but able to get on with the work that we all want to do: picking up phone calls from prospects and customers as well as answering the enquiries that are coming through to us from our website. Personally I miss the work banter, the whinge about who hasn’t done the washing up, the rush to get a cappuccino from the van that comes singing and dingling into our business park every day at 10.30 or sneaking a biscuit from my room colleague who buys custard creams as if there might be a shortage on the way. But I have also learned that work can perhaps be even more productive without all of that going on and that working in your slippers is actually quite comforting in these difficult times. Who knows what the future of ‘work’ will look like. Maybe we will find ‘going into the office’ a bit odd and that working in normal footwear just doesn’t feel quite right.
Stay safe everyone and look after our NHS. We will all have many stories to tell when this is over.