Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes
20th August 2021
Regular readers may have noticed a small gap in the production of these missives… a part of this was due to me taking my summer break (which was very pleasant thanks).
However, since returning from leave it has been pretty busy here at Mobliciti towers. Many people will recognise that feeling of “stepping back into the whirlwind” that your first day back from holiday feels like. It’s now a common complaint that going on holiday is almost not worth it due to the intense build-up and the need to wrap things up before you go and then the inevitable return to things that need picking up urgently.
It does feel though that this year is somehow a little different. For example, we’d usually see a pattern on our support desks where there was a surge in tickets during July, a slowdown in August and a pickup during September which matched the reality that half our customer’s workforce were away during August. This pattern simply hasn’t happened in 2021 – the desk is as busy during August as was in July.
I don’t think that people have stopped taking holidays… so it begs the obvious question – why??
Clearly 2021 is an unusual year thanks to COVID-19, but my pet theory is that what we’re seeing is actually the fallout from the way businesses have shifted to remote working during the pandemic.
Since the dawn of the BlackBerry, there has been a gradual erosion of the boundary between work time and personal time, so it could be argued that what we’re seeing is nothing new. People have had the capability to keep an eye on email when on holiday for a long time now. But this has been enriched by the pandemic with the adoption of tools like Teams, etc – all the SaaS world is designed with Mobile consumption in mind. The reality is now that many do keep up with work when away – to the point where the EU is even mulling over the “Right to Disconnect”.
What is also new is that business processes have been subtly re-engineered in the past 15 months to remove the need for face to face. This is an enabler for work to carry on much more over a holiday as well!
It used to be the case that someone being on holiday was a very visible thing – there was an insufferable person mentioning their holiday all the time just before they left, the empty desk whilst they were away, and the bag of unusual sweets brought back when they returned. You knew people were on holiday and subconsciously pieces of work paused until they returned if needed.
With the workforce still 100% remote in many offices, is that trigger to pause perhaps being lost? I realise there are technology solutions that mimic this (most notably presence / out of office), but most places already have these. Think about what happens if you fire off a Teams message to someone on leave and they respond… well it undermines the concept of out of office.
I believe what we’re seeing here is the tip of an iceberg. The level of change that has been adopted by the masses during lockdown will inevitably change the way we work in unplanned ways over time…. we’re still learning what these may be.
Technology is driving unprecedented access to the ability to work which has been amazing during the pandemic, but there is perhaps a double-edged sword element to this also… you can see why the EU is looking into it. In the meantime, I need to get back to work! Thanks for reading.