“The New Normal” as on Comms In A Nutshell - Oak Engage
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“The New Normal” Discussed on Comms In A Nutshell

   Minute Read     Internal Comms

“The New Normal” Discussed on Comms In A Nutshell
Table of Contents

    What does our working world look like in 2021? What are the issues and challenges that companies, internal communications and HR departments face in the future? How can companies better support their workforce and ensure they have the tools and the right environment to thrive and enjoy their jobs? 

    Here at Oak Engage, we’ll be discussing all these questions and queries on our new podcast ‘Comms In A Nutshell’. Think of Comms In A Nutshell as your go to place to listen to discussions with industry experts, global brands and our hosts Vic McEwan & Scott Ritchie discuss the most pressing topics surrounding the world of work. 

    You’ll learn all about internal comms, intranets and how you can ensure your employees are happy and engaged and your employee experience is the best it possibly can be.


    Comms In A Nutshell #1 - The Return to the Office and the “New Normal”

    The pandemic has been a huge catalyst for change, especially for those who had to adapt to home working which was once a rarity. Home working suddenly became the new normal for over a year of our lives. However as we adapt to  COVID-19  and the impending return to the office - it is clear that there is a divide in opinions. Are employees more productive at home or the office? Has home working killed innovation for companies? What is the right stance to take?  

    In our first ever episode hosts Vic & Scott delve into:

    • This origins of our current work week 
    • The state of the workplace currently
    • How businesses across different sectors approaching the return to the office 
    • What the new normal looks like for businesses

    Our hosts also compare how employees' views differ working from home and the pros and cons of working remotely from its impacts on productivity, mental health and keeping your company culture alive. 

    Finally, Vic & Scott tell you how you can create the ultimate hybrid working experience for your employees through the use of an intuitive intranet so they can make the best of remote work and being in the office. 

    Listen to the full episode here: 

    If you want to keep up with the Oak Engage team and want to keep up with our podcast episodes why not follow Comms In A Nutshell on your favourite podcast player so you can keep up with all the episodes as soon as they’re released? 

    And if you’re interested in harnessing the power of an intranet to connect and engage your workforce, why not have a chat with one of our experts today?

    Want to see more?

    Get a demo with one of our digital workplace experts and see how Oak could work for you.

    Arrange a demo


    Episode Transcript 

    ​​Speaker 1 (00:10):

    Welcome to comms in a nutshell, a podcast by Oak Engage. Comms in a nutshell is the go-to place to listen to discussions with the Oak engage team, industry experts and global brands about the world of work, internal comms, intranets, and how you can get the best out of your workforce. At The end of each episode, we wrap up all the tips and findings discussed in a nutshell, so that you can start implementing them right away. Enjoy this episode.

    Speaker 2 (00:41):

    [Intro Music]

    Speaker 1 (00:45):

    Welcome to Comms in a nutshell. Hi everyone. I'm Vic, one of your hosts.

    Speaker 2 (00:50)

    And I'm Scott, your cohost.

    Speaker 1 (00:51):

    So to start with, we're going to be exploring the kind of concept of the workweek of where we're at now. So, Scott, do you want to tell us about the concepts you found?

    Speaker 2 (01:00):

    Yeah, I think it's got a really interesting history, you know, the current iteration of the working week, which is kind of, you know, 40 hours, five days. It's been around for just over a hundred years now. Yeah. And Henry Ford kind of introduced this new working week, going down from 48 hours and six days to a 40 hour, five day week back in 1914. And it was, it was to do with, he thought that it was better for productivity.

    Speaker 1 (01:23):

    How did he decided that with he kind of put under pressure from people, or

    Speaker 2 (01:26):

    I think, you know, at the turn of the century around 1900, the standard was 53 hours. You know, that was a seven day working week and it was kind of eight hours for work, eight hours to sleep and eight hours for play. So, you know, it kind of came about fairly quickly from, from over 53 hours to 40 and just in under 20 years. But then really from that point, it hasn't done anything. And it, is it a case that that was, you know, if it ain't broken, don't fix it, you know, have we found the pinnacle of what a working week should be? Or is there a way to change it? You know, I think there's, there's an economist. John Maynard Keynes who was around in the twenties and thirties. And he had this idea that come, you know, 2000 and onwards, the working week would kind of be about 15 hours, you know? So quite a step away from where we are now. Yeah.

    Speaker 1 (02:10):

    They're polar opposites.

    Speaker 2 (02:10):

    Yeah. And I don't think it's somewhere we will get to very soon, but he had this idea that, you know, as the standard of living goes up, it means that, you know, people are going to want to spend more time, not at the office, not at work, but actually doing things. And because of, you know, there'll be so many more supportive tools and tech and things that can help increase productivity, 15 hours would kind of be the sweet spot. Now it hasn't quite happened. But I think the closest that we're going to come to anything that's kind of revolutional as that is having this pandemic, you know, because it's kind of pushed people outside of what the usual working week was and is the pandemic has been a catalyst in kind of, you know, pushing people outside of the usual working week. And it's really, as we go forward now, what is the working week going to look like, you know, in the next 10, 15 years, and obviously working from home or a hybrid approach is, is a big part of that. And I

    Speaker 1 (02:59):

    Think it's so interesting. So I'll say it's a really hot topic at the moment differentiation. So you've got some people who think that will never return to the office. People who think that, well you've got companies kind of saying, if people don't return to the office, then they're going to lose their jobs. There's so much disparity. Yeah. I'm looking forward to like delving into what everybody thinks and kind of all the different ideologies.

    Speaker 2 (03:24):

    Yeah. And I think it's, I think you've touched on it there by sector and by industries is kind of a big telling point. You know, I think there's finance, which is very traditional in the office and a lot of the banks do seem to be pushing to go back, but HSBC and Lloyds have kind of, you know, reduced their office space. It's kind of, they're looking at this more transitional approach to working from home over the next year, five, 10 years, maybe however, there is still some other kinds of, or more traditionalist banks, like, you know, Goldman Sachs and those kinds of industries that do think being the office is the best thing for them.

    Speaker 1 (03:56):

    Yeah. So I think we should take the listeners through what different industries are doing, what different sectors are doing and the kind of different opinions so that we can get like an overall view of the landscape.

    Speaker 2 (04:07):

    Let's start with finance. You know, I think that's an industry that's traditionally been very kind of, you know, five days a week in the office, if it's traditionally associated with some long hours. And there has been some banks who, because of their company culture, like Goldman Sachs, you know, collaboration, and, and they have a lot of apprentices joining them every year that they want to be back as soon as possible. And I kind of thought a lot of, well, all banks would be that way, but you look at like HSBC and Lloyd's, they're actually reducing that office footprint. I think it's Lloyd who reduced about 20%. And so over the next five, 10 years, they're probably going to transition more to have some more flexibility within their workforce going forward. So I thought that was an interesting one.

    Speaker 1 (04:46):

    I, it's interesting because people are seeing the benefits of working from home, but then as well, there's kind of that counter argument of you've got young people, they need to have that time in the office develop skills to kind of grow. Yeah.

    Speaker 2 (04:59):

    But I think then when you look at, you know, tech industry and software and, well, we're not in a meeting room recording this. So I think it's, you know, I think, well, our CEO kind of said, we won't go back to a five day in the office approach and it suits us, I think, is what we do. But then we've got the right tools to be able to kind of, you know, all stay connected and collaborate on whatever we need to

    Speaker 1 (05:22):

    It's about finding the balance as well, because I think obviously there's been such a shift too, during the pandemic, the focus on employees, mental health and wellbeing. So it's about finding that balance of I'm a business, we need to do what we can to make sure work is done. It's done productively. People can have the opportunity to collaborate and be creative, but then also, I don't think people ever want to go back to the way it was before, because now people realize how much kind of free time they have. They can save a lot of money. Obviously you've got different kinds of people, you've literally, everybody's different, aren't they? You've got mums with kids who working from home that probably saves them loads of childcare. There's not one size fits all. Is it it's completely different for each?

    Speaker 2 (06:07):

    No, not at all. And, and you know, if we go back to keynes, you know, that 15 hour working week, people are gonna want to spend more time at home. I think it's, you know, where it kind of has an impact in today's society is things like commuting when people are getting back, you know, two, three hours a day because they're not sat in their cars, trains wherever else and are actually at home, you close the laptop and you're there. Yeah. It's a really nice thing that people now can take advantage of.

    Speaker 1 (06:32):

    Huh. So you've got finance who it's a mixed bag.

    Speaker 2 (06:36)

    With law It was quite hybrid approach

    Speaker 1 (06:37):

    That's kind of interesting as well because you'd think finance and law, they're kind of both very traditional, but then finance maybe is a bit more reluctant to have a hybrid approach, but then laws very lenient with that.

    Speaker 2 (06:52):

    Yeah. I guess, I guess it kind of comes down to maybe the actual job role. I think laws, probably more people working independently, you know, putting pulling cases and information together rather than maybe banking where if it's Goldman Sachs to them and go by then it's very collaborative and they want, you know, a lot of people in a room having this kind of big holistic approach at wherever they're going to, going to look up. I think there is more of a, the apprenticeship culture in big banking. You know, thousands of recruits through every summer. Probably speed is a lot better for them if, if everyone's in one place and they can do things. Yeah. But no, I was, I was surprised that some, a lot of law firms were taking more of a hybrid approach because you kind of feel that finance law kind of group together in what they do. Like if they're featured feature like a Charles Dickens novel and how they're portrayed in the office.

    Speaker 1 (07:42):

    Yeah. No, I do. I do think, I think everybody would have that image that industries like that they'd be kind of reluctant, but then it's kind of good because it shows that people's attitudes are kind of shifting and they're like, well, we do need to accept this new, this new way of working because it's, it's like, here to stay essentially.

    Speaker 2 (08:01):

    Absolutely. Yeah. And I think as kind of technology advances, it just makes anything you're doing easier, you know, with teams, zoom, you know, laptops being you know weighing nothing. We'll take them wherever just means everything's accessible in one place for people. So,

    Speaker 1 (08:18):

    I mean, I know from my personal experience as well, like I'd never worked for a company kind of technology to help you like collaborate so much. And then when I came here, it was kind of like, oh wow, this is so easy onboarding remotely. So nice. Like everybody's really welcoming, it's really lovely. And it was almost like a shock. And I was like, is it that easy?

    Speaker 2 (08:40):

    And it can be as long as you've got the right tools for the job, if you're going to embrace a working from home or hybrid approach, then it's almost like your company culture will change because you're not in the office every day. And it's probably more about, you know, adopting that it will change and embracing that and having right tools to do the job, to support that and make sure that actually your core values are still at the heart of what you do as a business, but just kind of, you know, in a little bit of a different way than they might've been 18 months ago when everyone was in the office

    Speaker 1 (09:07):

    And it kind of is nicer as well because you can connect with more people within your organization. I think if you're just in the office, you might necessarily not go over to people or interact with people as much. But then when you've got that tool, like an intranet to kind of collaborate message people, when you're on boarding, everyone's kind of in their room on their own, you kind of then do reach out to more people. So it kind of is better in a way because it helps connect to everyone a lot more.

    Speaker 2 (09:33)

    Yeah. I think, especially for onboarding, when you're not familiar with knowing who everybody is, you know, dropping them a message is a little bit more informal.

    Speaker 1 (09:41):

    Introduce yourself. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Less overwhelming as well. When you're a new starter, you've got a lot to think about. And then if you do want to introduce yourself, it kind of, then it's like a easiest stepping stone really isn't it. Anyway, I'm really off piste, back to sector

    Speaker 2 (09:56):

    We've kind of done law. So what

    Speaker 1 (09:58):

    Are the media and creative industries? What's their stance on it?

    Speaker 2 (10:02):

    I've think from the stats I've seen a hybrid approach is a lot better for them. I think, you know, in some cases advertising stuff, they tend to work in small pairs or small teams anyway, you know, really being able to be creative, I guess for media it just seems to be a bit more of a hybrid different approach that seems to want more of the senior teams and managers in more than the kind of, you know, other employees who can kind of go a bit more free with what they're going to do. It'll be an interesting one because I think for the design, it'll be time will tell when it comes to how they work, how creative can they be actually coming up with what they need to do either remotely or in the office. It might be that for some people that might work better when they're in the office, some people might work better when I'm not. I think I wouldn't be surprised that that's quite a mixed bag.

    Speaker 1 (10:45):

    'Cause I think that is kind of like one of the cons, which we'll go into a bit later as well. But when you work from home, you might think, well, I'm on my own, I've got that time to myself. I can probably get into the zone a bit more, be more creative, but then it has kind of been proven that in-person collaboration is better for creativity, innovation, sparking ideas. Obviously an in-person meeting is completely different. Isn't it to a meeting over zoom

    Speaker 2 (11:12):

    And I guess it depends how many people they're working with as well. If there's one or two, it might be, you know, fine to bounce ideas off. If there's six or seven at them, it comes a bit of a different beast. So yeah, that's one where kind of for working from home would be more of an embraced practice because of the nature of it. And it's, you know, seems to be a bit more relaxed compared to law or finance, but actually the benefits might be for those guys to be back in the office

    Speaker 1 (11:37):

    As well. Cause when you think of kind of creatives, you do kind of tend to think, oh, like freelance creatives as well. And they work from home anyway, don't they? So I think, yeah, you get that link. So media and creative is hybrid. So kind of similar to tech as well whilst tech is hybrid their are companies that are trying to find ways to get people back into the office.

    Speaker 2 (11:58):

    Yeah. Well I think, you know, for us in marketing for tech, you know, we are back in the office one day a week now, and it's a good balance for us and that's kind of, you know, it's nice, a lot of the other departments like our developers, you know, and, and the QA, the testers, you know, they, they can be work from home because a lot of what they do is just kind of, you know, they need to write some code or do whatever and, you know, a quiet work environments probably better for, for that type of practice. Whereas for us, you know, I think it still relates back to similar for the creatives in design. You know, it's nice to be in an office space with other people to bounce ideas off, to talk through what you're doing. Although I must admit when I first went in the office, I got nothing done. Cause it was like, it was,

    Speaker 1 (12:43):

    Yeah, I was the same as well. I also think it's good to find ways to encourage people to come back into the office or to like ease people back into it. Cause I think I was, I was a bit nervous at first and I was like, oh, like this it's kind of scary. You got used to working at home. You're in your own environment that you're used to and then going into an office. But then I think once I'd gone in, oh this is really, really nice. A lot nicer than I thought it would be. Cause I think I'd got quite used to working at home. Like a lot of people probably have,

    Speaker 2 (13:13):

    Well, we haven't actually been in the office together. We haven't,

    Speaker 1 (13:16):

    No, we haven't. I was going to say, I was going to say, oh, when we had our first in-person marketing meeting, but then you weren't there.

    Speaker 2 (13:25):

    Yeah, no, that's the holidays and whatever else, but yeah, I haven't seen you in the office yet.

    Speaker 1 (13:32):

    So I think, I think with tech companies I've seen, there is a lot of companies that they do kind of have a different stance, I think. Was it Twitter and Facebook that very, very for remote working and then Google? Oh no, it was apple that basically said that they don't really want the employees working from home because it was bad for innovation collaborative.

    Speaker 2 (13:53):

    Yeah. And I think some of those like early adopters, like Twitter, you know, when they really early on in the pandemic, it just said, this is what we're doing now. It feels like they must've been playing around with those ideas for a while because it was, it seemed to be so soon that COVID hit. They were like, well actually we're just going to change the entire way we work moving forward in like a forever type of way. So, but yeah, if it, if it's working for them, that's great. And I think everyone would like a bit more balance in their life work-life balance. I mean, I benefit from having kind of, you know, two days in the office, one or two days in the office, not to be biased,

    Speaker 1 (14:27):

    A hybrid approach is the best. Nothing. Most employees want that anyway, don't they, I don't know wether there are disagreements between employers and employees. So I think, okay, so we've covered those other industries. What are civil service doing.

    Speaker 2 (14:42):

    Well, I think at the minute there's been quite a hybrid approach, like everyone, there is more of a, more of a push for some people to start coming in more. I know there was a claim, that civil servants would have a pay cut if they were working from home, you know, moving forward. But I think that's been kind of quashed, I don't know, really know where that came from it, but it wasn't, it made the news. But there's no evidence to suggest it was said.

    Speaker 1 (15:06):

    I've seen that quite a bit. I know I've seen it a lot on Twitter and kind of in the news that there are some people who do think not just in civil service, but in business in general, I think it's in America. Someone said, why are we going to pay you a New York wage when you're living rural America? So I think there are some kind of opinions. And I think as well, that, that leads into this big thing of the great resignation at the moment. Doesn't it? Where people are getting these benefits taken away from them. Like they are going to get a pay cut or they are going to have to go back into the office. People are going to quit their jobs now.

    Speaker 2 (15:40):

    Yeah. And as we come out of, COVID the job markets of buoyant, but there's a lot of opportunities and people can move, which is nice to see, you know, if people feel when they need to move with it once before every, and then I see the job market support to them, but it is very much in favor of the employee rather than the employer you know, which might have more of an impact on how working from home is also viewed moving forward. Because if people want to retain their best people or hire the best people that doesn't necessarily mean they have to live in that same city, you can get the best talent in that industry without having them to commute or relocate or do whatever because it fits into the new way of working.

    Speaker 1 (16:15):

    Yeah, definitely. I was going to say that again, it links back to mental health and looking after your employees, it's not necessarily about, you need to be in the office whenever it's, if you're the right person for that job and you can do the job and you have the tools to do the job, that's the best thing for a company. Yeah, absolutely. Right. So civil service what's happening with tourism?


    Speaker 2 (16:37):

    Well, I think it's no secret that international tourism has been hit really hard by the pandemic staycations and you know, kind of holidays close to the home of done Rudy well, but there is going to be kind of a long recovery plan for the guys in travel and tourism. I think it's almost too early to say whether they're going to be hybrid or not, but I think it is looking like they'll look at a hybrid approach and probably see how the market and everything else can kind of influence what they're doing, whether there's still the same demand, international travel, more demand, or, you know, maybe people looking at doing different things. So I think it's a bit of an unknown that one, but

    Speaker 1 (17:14):

    It is looking up though. I think we've had, we've had good news this week. Haven't we with the plans for travel with the tests. Are you telling me you've booked a holiday?

    Speaker 2 (17:27):

    Is that what you're saying

    Speaker 1 (17:29):

    Yeah I'm booking a holiday tomorrow I'm going to go to Budapest. So

    Speaker 2 (17:34):

    Yeah. And then I guess the other big one is retail it's a hybrid approach. Again, it's been a lot of, a lot of shock closures, a lot of buying everything online. And I think, you know, for those shops that do open, having a physical presence is inevitable. And so there's not a lot of chance for some of those people to work from home if they are in a supermarket or whatever. But I think, you know, the actual head offices and the behind the scenes stuff, I think they can, they've now got the opportunity to take chance to look at how they're were operating, operating pre pandemic and how they can do that. After reviewing

    Speaker 1 (18:16):

    The various industry and sector approaches to the return to the office in this next section, myself and Scott look at what the differing views of employees are. In Recent article from the BBC, the whole headline is that most people do not believe that workers will return to the office full time. After the pandemic, a total of 70% of 1,700 participants' polls predicted that workers would never return to the office at the same rate, the majority of workers have said that they would prefer to work from home either full-time or at least some of the time, but obviously there's the divide. So obviously workers are wanting to work from home managers are raising concerns about kind of creativity in the workplace being affected. And then senior leaders that were polled basically said that workers staying at home would adversely affect creativity and collaboration. So that was against just 38% of the public. So obviously there's that divide in opinions.

    Speaker 2 (19:14):

    It brings us round, you know, everything you kind of read and see, it does seem to be based around this, this collaboration productivity is these kind of, you know, almost like a buzz word of why people should be in the office and which to some extent I get it, but you know, what could you achieve in five days that you couldn't achieve in two, you know, if more of moving forward more of your time when you're in the office is spent in meetings, doing that stuff that you feel is more critical to actual collaborative work and doing what you need to with other people, you know, a lot of the time you're there that's not all you're going to be doing, which is just to say you could do, you know, a lot of those tasks working from home just as effectively, some people less some people more than you would be just be sat in the office. If the outcry from your employees is that they want a more flexible approach and kind of getting the balance right. Is going to be tricky. But it's probably something you could do, probably how massively with employee engagement, you know, just making sure that you're doing what you need to do in the office, but also you're still kind of, you know, respecting the work for what your workforce wants to do by coming in two, three days a week or whatever. Yeah.

    Speaker 1 (20:14):

    I definitely agree. And as well, you've got to kind of remember that, like we say, the employees are like the beating heart of your business. If you don't have happy employees. If you don't have employees that are passionate about their work and kind of excited and engaged, then you're not going to get that output or that level of work that you want. You have to listen. And there has been that shift of people recognize the importance of their employees like wellbeing, attitudes, and everything. And I definitely agree with you. It's good to go into the office for meetings and certain things, but then obviously everybody's different. Some people work better in silence don't they. So working from home, being able to concentrate, especially marketing, I write a lot, like if I'm in an office and there's like lots of noise going on, I do kind of find it hard to concentrate sometimes. So it's nice to have that hybrid approach. Yeah.

    Speaker 2 (21:05):

    And I think, you know, some people do prefer to be in the office. They still can be even with a smaller office space. If the majority of people aren't going to be that they're still, you know, probably desks available for people to do that. So they can feel more comfortable to do what they wanted to just for kind of the workforce as a collective, to have everybody in for five days a week does seem to be almost against the grain. A lot of industries, businesses and sectors are moving to unfortunately, thanks to Corona.

    Speaker 1 (21:30):

    Yeah. Yeah. I do think individual needs as well in this BBC article, it kind of talks about this young lady. She wants to be in the office all the time. So she says she's been more productive when she's in there because it's a professional environment thing. Because while it kind of links to like motivation as well with individuals, it's like a lot of people they can, if they're working from home, they can motivate theyself really, really easily others. They need to be in that office environment to kind of cut themselves motivated as well. There's a stat here, the 60% in the survey thought like young people would struggle to progress without like face-to-face or in-person meetings. On the other hand, you have another gentleman, Anthony Howard, he works in procurement. He has found that like working from home is a lot better for him because of the cost.

    Speaker 1 (22:16):

    Obviously he hasn't got a journey into work every day, the commute, et cetera. What I thought was interesting as well in this article is they kind of brand the whole landscape at the moment as a bit of a messy situation. So employees have expectations where they're demanding hybrid and remote working, but companies want people back into the office. So there's kind of that challenge there. And again, linking back to what we said at the beginning before the pandemic, people would kind of fit their lives around work, but now COVID has kind of shifted that that's not the way it's going to be anymore. So it's been like a catalyst for change. So there's lots of people turning down opportunities because they don't offer remote work or there's not the right tools, et cetera. So yeah, it's been branded as a messy landscape because everybody's looking for something different.

    Speaker 2 (23:01):

    I think that actually brings us quite nicely onto kind of pros and cons for working from home, especially in this situation, especially, you know, one of those, one of those pros is hiring people. The employee landscape currently we see, like we touched on before, there's, there's a buoyant job market. There's a lot going on. You know, as you just mentioned there flexible working is clearly something that people will, will hold out for one position. And if they don't like it they'll vote with their feet in some cases. And it does give companies the opportunity to recruit the best talent, no matter where they're based

    Speaker 1 (23:32):

    In this final podcast, segment, myself and Scott look at the pros and cons of hybrid working and how having an intranet like Oak can assist you with these pros and cons.

    Speaker 2 (23:43):

    So I guess we've, we've looked at kind of the landscape in this post COVID world kind of views from employers, employees. Really. I think we'll move on to now, to look at the pros and cons and how Oak as a intranet and a digital workplace can support in this brave new world.

    Speaker 1 (24:00):

    Let's go into pros first so pros of hybrid working, being able to work from home.

    Speaker 2 (24:06):

    Yeah, I think we touched on before the kind of the pro of employers, aren't kind of constricted by geographical location, which means that it benefits everyone. You can get the best talent, no matter where they are, employers want top talent. They, they want to recruit the best, the best for them, the best for the business. And kind of employees want to aspire to work. Some, you know, too specific businesses kind of this hybrid approach can facilitate that. You know, just because, you know, you don't have to commute 300 miles every day to get to a specific company. You want to work for thats based in London, then, you know, you can now, which, which is great to see. And hopefully it'll kind of help support people in their careers and as they move forward. Yeah.

    Speaker 1 (24:45):

    And I think even like some companies, they are hiring people and it's a case of you don't have to come into the office, but it's like a trip down to the office once a month or once every two weeks or things like that are really good. But how can an an Intranet help when hiring more people remotely,

    Speaker 2 (25:04):

    I think you mentioned earlier, onboarding is such a big thing. Both of us were recruited and onboarded and the entire process was done during the pandemic. We were kind of, it was all virtual is such, and you mentioned how easy it was on day one when you log in and we're using Oak, it's so good because it's so intuitive. You kind of already know how to use it. It's got that social media feel, you know, there's a timeline, there's instant messenger for everything you use anyways it's already there. Straight away, it kind of builds this familiarity with the tool that you're using, especially for when new people start, if they are based remotely. One of the really cool things when we first joined was Oaks kind of people directory. So you can go on and kind of really quickly find out who you need to speak to. And it means that even if you haven't met that person before, or you don't know who they are, kind of get a really good overview straight away of the department, the people who's in, who's off, you know, combined with the calendar, it just makes it a really easy way to find your feet.

    Speaker 1 (25:55):

    Yeah. I found it really cool because when I logged on and I was like, oh, it's like a little mini Facebook. And it is, it's like a social media app. So like a social intranet. It's, it's great. Cause like you can see who's doing what, and it kind of, it connects everyone within the organization. Definitely even the things like department, group chats, like we've got our chat for our team and stuff. And then it is nice to be able to go on to people directory, if you need someone from design or something, it's nice to be able to just find the person that you need. And then it kind of blurs them boundaries between teams and different levels of people as well. Doesn't it? It's

    Speaker 2  (26:35):


    Speaker 1 (26:35):

    Absolutely. And as well I think having the mobile app, that's really what it useful because if you're like out and about, or if I decide to go on a walk on my lunch and stuff, I can kind of like keep in touch with what everyone's doing and it's, it's nice to have everything there in one place. And you're able to just see it from your phone even when your not at your desk. Okay.

    Speaker 2 (26:55):

    I think the app has so many uses for kind of us checking in on the chat and keeping on top of stuff. But especially if you're an enterprise where the workforce is dispersed across multiple locations or time zones or whatever, you know, having the ability that everyone can access it, whether they've got a company email or not, you know, you can just download your app and it's there. It's really good for kind of, you know, not only productivity, but also employee wellbeing. Employees can check and see what's going on. They're not missing out. They don't have to feel isolated just because they're not there, which probably ties in quite nicely to the fact, when we look at the recently isolated, which are those people are, where in an office five days a week. And then have kind of gone to working from home because the app is just like the desktop version, you know, you know, you're not missing out on anything.

    Speaker 2 (27:34):

    It's not kind of a snapshot, the best bits. It's, it's actually everything that you need. A lot of what Oak does it at its heart is, is around productivity. And there's a, there's a lot of features on there that country to help people with that productivity, whether it's onboarding and finding somebody you need really quickly for something or, you know, messenger to ask quick questions, there's a lot that's there. And one, the other really cool things as well, especially with the app is the push notifications. So if there is something going off, then it doesn't matter whether you're, you know, you get notification looking at your screen or if you've got your mobile with you, you're going to be in the know

    Speaker 1 (28:09):

    I've noticed we've had a couple of notifications, like, like mandatory read things like with COVID. So if you're wanting to send out like important things, everybody in the office needs to read, rather than it being in an email where it can get completely lost in translation, you can have that document shared to everyone on the intranet, you know, when people have read it, you know, that people have ticked Yes. So it's a really sure fire way of kind of communicating really important news.

    Speaker 2 (28:37):

    I think the engineers and the guys have taken it once step further with, with COVID we've got like an entire resilience pack, you know, you can see who's been vaccinated that you've disclosed that and which departments or you know, where they're based. So you can build a kind of good picture of your workforce about potential outbreaks and kind of the risks with our employees to keep kind of one step ahead, which is a really nice feature. I think You know, it's got so many more, many more applications because yeah. So we've got that really nice feature and, you know, while there's kind of some heroic efforts to get as many people as possible vaccinated and really take it forward, I think COVID unfortunately still going to be here for a while. So having that kind of, you know, view of your entire organization means that you can kind of put in place plans if, if the worst things do happen.

    Speaker 1 (29:22):

    Yeah. I think it's really useful as well. Obviously it's a different situation in each part of the world. Different countries are having different rules and regulations with COVID vaccines, et cetera. I know USA some places it's going to be mandatory to have your jabs. I think a feature like that, to be able to have clear all in one place, whether employees have, or haven't like just having that resource there to be able to track it. It's really clever. It's really useful.

    Speaker 2 (29:52):

    There's a nice dashboard for like instant reporting, but I think we're getting a bit off piste again. So the pros and cons of working from home.

    Speaker 1 (30:03):

    Yeah, so I think obviously we've talked about for the company, having an intranet is great for onboarding. A lot of the features are great, but also there are tools that are beneficial for employees as well, like for improving their mental health. Yeah. Yeah.

    Speaker 2 (30:17):

    And I think that's one of the big ones, you know, for employee wellbeing. It's so much harder to kind of keep a kind of just check in with your workforce if they're a bit more dispersed because they're some work from home, some are in the office. And so it's quite nifty for that. You know, there's employee recognition, you can nominate people and send a thank you for something they've done all the instant messenger kind of stuff, which is, you know, it's just like sending a text, but you know, within that work environment, it just means it's a bit more kind of prominent

    Speaker 1 (30:44):

    Things like the hubs as well. Like we have pats of Oak and I just absolutely love it. Like, I just think your intranets there so that you can communicate collaborate, do you work efficiently, but as well, having the option of having all these different areas where you can create hubs and everyone can kind of get away from that work chat, like everyone can actually like interact as people on it and you get to know people better through it. It's just like that nice kind of touch that makes it, oh, this isn't just like a tool. This is actually something that's like connecting the whole workforce.

    Speaker 2 (31:19):

    Yeah. It's got that really nice dual approach where, you know, you can have a hub about app, anything you want, you can also have a hub for work stuff, you know, we'll work on it and you can bring other people into that to help collaborate on it. So, you know, whether you're in the office or not, you can kind of get quick opinions, what people think or their insights into what you're doing, which is a nice thing. And does help, you know, combat the lack of collaboration which, you know, has been highlighted a lot in the press because of you know, not being in the office,

    Speaker 1 (31:46):

    I think all this information, it kind of links to the fact that businesses kind of are embracing remote work. I know HubSpot did a state of remote work survey and it found that 84% of companies are kind of intending to offer some remote work options after the pandemic. And that's kind of linking to that productivity, that wellbeing and happiness. And I definitely think having a tool like an intranet, it makes that all possible. Like I can't imagine how companies would otherwise do it so easily without one.

    Speaker 2 (32:20):

    Well, off the back of that, you know, I think on the big cons of working from home, it's kind of been yet the actual requirements to technology upgrades and investment in that kind of stuff. But if you're reviewing your systems and what you use and trying to, you know, invest in stuff, then it's probably the right time to look to invest in something that is going to be really beneficial for the long term outdated clunky systems is something that we have in all enterprises and businesses, no matter where they are. I know some of my previous roles, the intranets had been terrible. You couldn't find a thing. So it kind of lends itself well to, you know, if you are doing that, to adopt that, working from home approach to kind of look, to implement one of those sooner rather than later, although one of those cons for employees is the cost of people working from home and

    Speaker 1 (33:07):

    When get a product to like, oh, it's kind of one investment. It integrates with everything, you know, that's, that's kind of like your one solution to everything. You're not having to kind of go off that loads of different things. It's kind of one solution that can help you with everything. So cons we've talked about kind of the need to invest in technology, obviously that might be considered a con for some businesses kind of it's an extra cost. There are some other cons as well. Another con is that without people going into the office, companies are kind of concerned about losing that workplace culture that you get when you come into the office. Yeah.

    Speaker 2 (33:45):

    I guess that kind of ties into that brand identity and how they kind of perceive the business and how everyone else that their employees perceive the business and then Gartner, have done some work on this. You know, they've said that the cultural values are likely to change with a hybrid approach. Collaboration, trust and agility are kind of the key ones that will differ. And that's not to say that the change is a bad thing. It, again, it's having the right tool that can help to nurture those new values that kind of come off the back of the existing ones. I think one of the big ones is like, you know how your brand looks, your, your brand identity is completely replicated in Oak and it can be completely designed from the ground up. It's fully customizable. Everything you do will be in your brand colors, your logo, you don't even see it. It's from Oak, it's just for you.

    Speaker 1 (34:28):

    I think as well, when you take a look on the website and you can go and see, like in blog posts, you can kind of have a sneak peek into how some brands and some of our clients have branded that intranets is incredible because it's literally an app that's been made specifically for them like the design capabilities. They really are incredible. So, yeah, I definitely think, like you said, with the design capabilities, keeping that branding consistent, that definitely helps people, they have that experience, they know that they're interacting with the brand still. It reminds them that they're still at work for that brand. And I know that buckinghamshire new uni, told us how they've been able to keep their company culture alive whilst working from home. So it's just things like hosting quizzes, having meetups and online events, kind of all through their intranet and throughout the pandemic, it's kind of helped to put employees ease and they've kind of done live Q and A sessions, and it's just allowing people to interact.

    Speaker 2 (35:28):

    It's it's that two way communication. I think that Oak helps to nurture, you know, it's got this social media look and feel, you know, so you can like, and comment on posts to kind of get people, engaged people, top management, senior team can post, they can reply to employees and post and ask questions. You can do all these kinds of things. So it's kind of, although the, all of the previous culture that businesses would have had will be changing the right tools can help to really evolve that for businesses and kind of progress it into the next step.

    Speaker 1 (35:57):

    Yeah, definitely. So it's, it's not so much as it needs to be a fear of losing their work place culture. It's actually like, it can be enhanced through having an intranet and people are going to be hybrid working. It's important to be able to have a tool to carry that through onto your online workspaces.

    Speaker 2 (36:15):

    And it's more about the awareness that those tools can do that. Well, as Oak you know, it is an intranet, it can search and do document hosting very well, but because it's got so many more social capabilities it's worth people know what it can do, because it does do so much around engagement and wellbeing.

    Speaker 1 (36:32):

    The final con, it probably is like one of the most pressing issues. How do you kind of go about not having like formal meetings and conversations? How do you replace the value of having that in-person collaboration?

    Speaker 2 (36:46):

    Yeah. See, I, I think, you know, as we've kind of been talking through all the kind of articles and the pros and cons, and like you say there nothing will be to face-to-face meeting, Oak offers a lot of features and support that and kind of be the next best thing, whether it's kind of, you know, the hubs for collaboration, or if we integrate with so many third-party programs, we'll never get away from an in-person meeting. The best thing for, especially for, for collaboration, you know, it it's there. But when that isn't an option, Oak does support with a range of features that help to kind of, you know, become the next best thing, whether that's the messenger that talks about the hubs, there's also extranet. So for those kinds of industries where they have to deal with third parties and they need to talk to them, they can't talk to them face to face.

    Speaker 2 (37:32):

    You can bring them in into those groups and they only see kind of the info you want them to see, but it means that, you know, there's not wasted time. You're trying to relay information to one group and then having to do it to somebody else, you can just bring them in so they can see it all at the same time. So, you know, things like that really help same as like content management, you know, just having everything in one place means like, if you are, you need to reference something, you can just ping it straight across to, you know, your colleagues in a different department or wherever else. I certainly think that meetings face-to-face meetings have that place, even in the modern, digitally as me say, you know, I think going to the office one or two days a week is quite nice for that. The flip side is because we're in a kind of such a more modern workplace. There's a lot of other stuff that just really helps to support.

    Speaker 1 (38:16):

    Yeah. I definitely agree. I think you're right with in person collaboration, like nothing's going to beat it, but then you need something that's going to be the next best thing to that. Being able to have a meeting then chats people instantly share things between each other doc like access things easily. That is the way that it's going to be easiest when you're on the computer. So like Oak has everything to do that. It's quick, it's easy. And obviously chatting to someone instantly. It is the next best thing to having a meeting. Really. So I definitely think all these things add up to create an, a successful hybrid working model as companies do make the shift to hybrid working more concepts like shorter working days, flexible working. You definitely need all of these tools to kind of create that successful working model. So,

    Speaker 2 (39:08):

    So we are comms in a nutshell. So, you know, in, in the nutshell, what do you think the key findings have been?

    Speaker 1 (39:15):

    Key findings? I think obviously we've explored this changing landscape. It's evident that there is going to be this shift towards hybrid working. We're not going back to the office full time. There's a shift on employees needs and what they need, and what's going to be beneficial for them. So I think for businesses, it's all about finding that fine line between this is what I needed as a business, but this is also what my employees need to be happy and productive. So it's all about having that tool. That's going to offer you the flexibility. It's going to make sure your employees can do their job properly. They can collaborate. They can work in a team and they can do that from home and in the office. So it's having an intranet such as Oak to be able to do that in a nutshell.

    Speaker 1 & 2 (40:00):

    Thank you very much for listening. I'm Scott, I'm Vic and we'll see you next time. Keep up with us on our social medias at Oak Engage.

    Speaker 1 (40:04):

    Keep up with the conversation with us on our social media at Engage. 



    Vic is one of Oaks Content Marketing Specialists. She specialises in communication and marketing and is also a host on the Comms In A Nutshell podcast for Internal Comms & HR professionals.