Is the virtual world of work here to stay?

Posted on 1st December 2020 by Fiona

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2020 has been a strange old year for us all. With many PR pros home-based for the foreseeable, our kitchen tables have become our workstations and B2B PR pitches are regularly accompanied by sounds of squealing kids and demanding pets. We’ve seen the virtual world of work evolve into almost the only world of work, but is it here to stay?

Aside from writing press releases while donning a growing array of lounge wear and comfy slippers, we’ve seen significant changes this year to the way our sector operates, and I suspect some of them are here to stay:

  1. Goodbye face to face meetings

This time last year, virtual meetings were a rare occurrence for the Skout team. Now the reverse is true, and Google Meets, Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls have become regular fixtures in our daily calendars.

While we certainly don’t miss standing on the train platform on a cold, wet November morning waiting to board the 6:40am train to London to go and meet with clients or journalists, I wonder if these regular visits are destined to become a much rarer event from now on.

Virtual meetings are uber convenient for everyone in so many ways, but ‘Zoom fatigue’ has certainly become a reality for many. I suspect even when the freedom to travel returns the pros of virtual meetings will continue to outweigh the cons. Will this have a long-lasting impact on business relationships? I guess only time will tell.

  1. See you later trade events

Trade events were once a place for PR pros to visit clients, meet journalists and gain knowledge listening to industry experts speak. Today, these same events are being managed virtually with many businesses finding them an effective way to achieve their objectives for events and build brand awareness. While I fully expect real-life trade events to come back bigger and better than ever before, I predict there will be considerably less of these in the future with more businesses opting to host innovative virtual events instead.

  1. Hello hybrid working

Working from home was once considered an occasional luxury or ‘perk’ of the job. Now it’s become a necessity and could be here to stay as reports suggest that nine in ten people want to continue working remotely once the pandemic ends.

At Skout we quickly adapted to this new virtual world of work! All the Skouts have appreciated the many and varied benefits it offers including the short commute down the stairs and being around to care for kids and pets.

But have the benefits of working from home come at a cost to sharing knowledge in the office, last minute internal brainstorm sessions, and the opportunity to grab five minutes with the MD in the corridor? There are clearly advantages to both ways of working and a hybrid approach, offering staff the best of both worlds is likely to become the norm for many.

What do you think? Have we seen our clients in the flesh for the last time? Are the days of working the exhibition hall floor over? Has time been called on office banter? Let’s see what the new year brings!

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