Employee Perspectives

Nostalgia when Work is an Act, not a Place

April 15, 2020

By Anit Kurian

The ones who can never agree on the air-con setting; the one who frequently exclaims so dramatically that it sets off a series of exclamations in response; the convenience of a desk phone; the one with the latest industry gossip; the one that sees only the calorie-count in anything edible; the office chair that has gotten only more comfortable and personalized, and allows quick mobility between workstations. These are just a few of the things that people from GolinMENA say that they miss about the office.

In our fourth week of staying safe at home, what really stands out is that no one misses quick collaboration catch-ups, the ability to get an answer by just asking a question loudly to the whole office, or the ability to dip into the wealth of information on the server. Technology has made sure that all of these can go on as usual, with just a change in format. BlueJeans and Zoom have effectively provided the platform for calls and meetings with clients, media, and within teams.

We all went through the challenge of creating the ideal work-space in our homes, claiming a corner of the dining table, or trying to schedule conference calls only during the baby’s nap time. There are technology-enabled tools now available to even recreate the sounds of the office. Imisstheoffice.eu provides all the usual ambient noises, such as the printer, a phone ringing in the distance, murmured conversation and loud chewing, the clacking of heels, and more. Just change the ‘number of colleagues’ to your office size, and hit play for some ‘corporate white noise’ while you work!

Much has been said about how the human response to a temporary home-bound existence is similar to the psychological aspect of grieving. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression or sadness, and ultimately acceptance. Experts would say that the objective is to cycle through the stages and arrive at the last one as quickly as possible.

From the smiling faces on our daily team video conference, to the dedication of the team to ensure that no client experiences a change in servicing standards, GolinMENA is at acceptance, and cycling purposefully forward with optimism. This speaks to the positivity and commitment of every team member – it is always the human response to a situation that makes all the difference.

As a communications consultancy, we are acutely aware of the need to position the message correctly to minimize negative connotations. From day one till today, we have not been stuck at home, we are safe at home. We are not working remotely, we are collaborating from safety.

Our sister agency, Horizon FCB, has created a campaign with short videos that carry this same message – #HomeIsFun, #HomeIsSafe. You can watch these videos on Instagram and Facebook, or here on Campaign Middle East.

Most of us have worked in interactive, collaborative workplaces for as long as we can remember, and the experience of working from home for such an extended period is unchartered territory for us. When we do get back to our workplaces, the positive impact of this current situation will be that we know we can do it, and do it well. Yes, we will appreciate those hours of the day with our work families all the more, but we also know now that we work well together whether or not we are next to each other. For us all, the definition of work has changed forever – it is not about the place you go to, but about the act itself.

A salute to all those that are ensuring that the work experience continues smoothly. We will get back to our desks soon, and go back to complaining about the very things we miss about the office today. Until then, stay safe, stay positive, stay motivated, stay productive, but most importantly, stay!