Publishing and running a fully digital magazine has its benefits as well as downsides. We, here at GBV, are generally used to working remotely. In fact, we have a diverse group of people who oil the wheels, based across the world, covering topics of interest for our readers. Countries where our staff are based include Luxembourg, New Zealand, France, Hungary, and the U.S. So, how has our work changed during COVID? Not a great deal, is the short answer. We have been ahead of the curve with video conferencing, our publisher, Eric Muller-Borle has been running the show online for the last 5 years now. We have a fully integrated online process to manage each monthly edition of the magazine across editors, writers, contributors, and graphic design. Each segment of the process has sub-processes and online meetings to discuss breaking trends in the sector: we are in touch with leading insurers and EB providers, who are now also facing work from home regimes, and implementing processes which necessitate social and business distancing. Some of the products we have been using to facilitate the flow of information across our organisation include Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom, Microsoft Exchange, Bitlocker, and Microsoft Office 365 (and a working internet connection, of course). These and others are becoming more widespread and Zoom’s valuation has increased exponentially as people realise value and necessity during these times. We see how our correspondents in the industry are now working from home, using remote working tools despite confidentiality issues and overloaded telecommunications. It can be done, is the simple answer. Businesses can be run, savings can be leveraged (expensive office space can be dispensed), and functionality over form, at least in terms of processes, can be implemented. In fact, we are under the impression that most of our counterparts work harder than ever, with travel, commuting, and coffee machine chats all gone. At GBV, we have had weekly slots for each segment of the business for quite some time – coordinated by our publisher, who manages the hub of GBV completely online and remotely. Content calendar meetings, content strategy, magazine design, marketing, and publishing all require detailed task management and guidance, especially in a fast-paced world where uncertainty is becoming more common. When we launched GBV five years ago, we decided to try and dispense with physical offices. As it turns out, we never looked back. Working from home offices all around the world, using loaned meeting rooms when necessary, our only permanent physical location is a 12-square meter room with a desk, three chairs, a cabinet, and, most importantly, a high-performance file server which strangely enough, is only used for backup purposes. For daily operations, we use a combination of off-the-shelf cloud solutions, i.e. DropBox, OneDrive, and Creative Cloud. As soon as the law catches up with the reality of modern digital work, we will dispense with even that room, digitize whatever is now in the filing cabinet (accounting records and the like, I am told), and move the file server to the basement. 4 Tips for successful remote work and cooperation In essence, we have found that working remotely works well – as does flexibility (technology is still catching up with what and how we want to achieve things – which applies to large as well as small and medium organisations). And given that we have 5 years of total remote work experience, or running everything through the medium of technology, here are some tips from us: Patience: technology does have to catch up with us. We have to work with glitches that happen for no reason apart from conflicting software or overloaded telecoms. Be patient. Be organised. Flexibility: meetings are often delayed, overrun. This seems to be happening less and less as social distancing and home isolation gives us time to sit in one place and do things. Need to change: we have realised – looking from the outside as early implementers of the fully remote work environment – that acceptance of change is important. We do not waste time on meetings about meetings, but rather have learnt to be concise, utilise necessary tools and ditch the long meeting structure of corporates. The trick is: trust team members to do the right thing. Direction: organisation is the key to have remote working parts of any organisation work smoothly. Task division and allocation become more and more important (this means not general tasks, but detailed task and goal identification. And, again, trust in all team members). While these are all things that organisations are implementing now, we feel greater implementation and leveraging technology will prove to be more important as time progresses. This necessity, we have seen, is filtering into large organisations and technology providers who are innovating at breakneck speed to come up with solutions to working remotely (which is a positive step all round). Process, product, and client re-engineering is something which still needs work. Data and technology are pervasive in business, now more than ever. GBV sees this as a positive outcome of these unfortunate times. Large EB providers are publishing guidelines and advice at breakneck speed – answering calls from clients, regions and industry sectors. We feel this is all a positive step in the corporate psychology and development and encourage working more efficiently. And while it has taken a pandemic for this to happen, we do feel that complacency has given way to more cooperation among divisions of companies, and at the (very important) social level. This can only be beneficial to most industry sectors in the long run.
The world of work is fast changing. As life expectancy lengthens and labour markets shift, our working lives have become more complicated. The old expectations about how we work have become unsustainable – not least the expectation that we religiously travel to and from a fixed location ten times a week during rush hour, with all the knock-on effects that this has for carbon emissions.