CEO, HERE EAST
Collaboration is a fundamental force in driving forward genuine innovation across a range of industries and sectors, from manufacturing and robotics to dance and the arts.
At Here East, this co-operation and collective sharing of ideas is the glue which holds our campus together and is what sets us apart from other business communities across London.
Over the past month, the Covid-19 outbreak has turned our usual ways of working upside down. Following the Prime Minister’s blanket broadcast, most offices have closed and remote working is now the new normal for most UK employees.
In the face of this period of isolation, maintaining a collaborative attitude has never been more important.
It will be easy to feel disjointed over the coming months, as we are cut off from our teams and colleagues. There are many of us working remotely in the midst of an overwhelming situation and it will be normal to feel distracted or preoccupied at times.
Making sure we stay connected and in sync with our teams will not only ensure productivity – but will also go a long way in helping us remain inspired and positive during this period.
The technology sector has stepped up in a major way to achieve this and help us keep some semblance of normality.
Within the very first week of working from home, it was clear that video-conferencing would become one of the most valued tools in our daily lives. Whether it is bouncing ideas off a colleague, conducting formal meetings and check-ins, or sharing a morning coffee with your manager, human conversations and interactions are irreplaceable and we are adopting new online systems and processes to help us maintain them.
It is no surprise that the likes of Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack are all witnessing a huge spike in user growth; as of March 25, Slack was counting 12.5 million connected users.
It’s not about the group video calls either, with software suites packaging up further tools alongside this. The virtual conference tool Hopin has seen more than a 1,000% rise in demand over the past month, while Klaxoon, after seeing demand rise by 90%, is offering companies a three-month free trial of its remote collaboration tools.
Employee wellbeing is another significant aspect which has come to the forefront – a key priority for many at a time when there is the potential for workers to feel alone and disconnected from their usual support network.
In response to the current crisis, companies have rushed to update and tailor their digital mental health tools, from mindfulness and mood tracking to meditation. At Here East, we have created a wellbeing pack which provides useful tips for keeping in touch and productivity, with ideas for personal development and fun cultural things to do.
Maintaining that sense of community and ensuring employees continue to receive advice, guidance and support, which is critical in a climate of uncertainty.
For years we have been slowly integrating technology into every aspect of our working lives without a second thought, and now as we rapidly integrate new systems and processes, never did we think they would end up being the lifeline for so many like they have.
As companies and their employees grapple with these strange times, their agility and creativity in harnessing technology to remain connected with one another is a testament to the innovation and tenacity of our business landscape and the resilience of our working culture we have worked so hard to build.