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Filling in the missing pieces of the homeworking jigsaw

PUBLISHED: 09:32 04 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:30 04 November 2020

The collaborative environment of the Centrum building at Norwich Research Park was ideal for those important 'coffee queue conversations'   Picture: Paul Nixon

The collaborative environment of the Centrum building at Norwich Research Park was ideal for those important 'coffee queue conversations' Picture: Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon Photography 07904296577

When the second lockdown comes into play on Thursday, homeworking will be very much back on the agenda. David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, says if this is to become the norm, we need to focus on the people as much as the technology.

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park    Picture: Norwich Research ParkDavid Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park Picture: Norwich Research Park

History tells us that pretty much every generation has one time when the world is thrown in the air. Is this our time?

In our advanced modern society, we continue to think about work as we did in the last Millennium. ‘Work:life balance’ is merely code for being ‘at work’ and ‘not being at work’, spending too long commuting.

With change thrust upon us, we need new ways of working. Home working for many has become the ‘norm’ thanks in part to technologies such as Zoom.

People have become comfortable with many of its consequences – no commuting, relaxation of dress, the flexibility of work fitting better with life because they are in the same place. Technology platforms have given us the ability for meetings, conferences and webinars.

If we look at these elements as pieces in a jigsaw, the opportunity to build that new picture is there, but we would find there are a few pieces missing. We miss the coffee queue conversations, the sense of how our friends and colleagues are from their physical presence and our interaction with them.

These have not yet been adequately translated into our new work environments. Without the physical meet we have lost the unsolicited conversation and the opportunities to which this can lead.

We must replace that if home working is to be truly successful.

In our old conversations “How are you” had no question mark, and this has been replaced in our new world emails with ’Hope you are well”. In either case we must put the question mark back, intend it as a question and encourage an honest answer.

How often have you spoken to a colleague on the phone or video platform for no other reason than to ask them how they are doing? And how many people have called you with the same question? The isolation from lockdown and homeworking has made mental wellbeing more important than ever. If homeworking is to be sustainable we must have this piece of the jigsaw, without it the picture will not be complete.

For more information on Norwich Research Park, click here.


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