Rumage is a start-up. We have always worked remotely. We know that this pandemic has forced the adoption of new ways of working for many more established businesses. They’ve needed to re-imagine their workplaces and the role of their offices in creating safe, productive, and collaborative places to come together as well as fulfilling roles for people, wherever they are.
But at Rumage, because we are small and agile and looking for the next step in our growth opportunities, we were founded on this new way – a way that means we can find the right talent wherever they are. And we are all over the place and always have been.
Many companies around the world have risen to this challenge well, acting wisely to safeguard colleagues and setting up (at speed) new ways of working that even the most extreme business-continuity plans could never have imagined. As they keep on telling us, the work world will never be the same. They’ve learnt that working from home is not a myth but a real possibility – there can be no neigh sayers anymore. There is now a real re-think about what the role of the office is.
But not everyone wants to work where they rest and play. So there needs to be a balance of coming together to interact and make real relationships, collaborate to be creative; make those watercooler moments stay alive in our working lives and retain flexibility.
Working from home for some has been a huge invasion of their personal space, set up at a speed no one anticipated, not everything has gone well. Some are locked in small rooms (often their bedroom) to get the quiet they need, and many feel it is hard to concentrate, or extroverts need others to stimulate ideas. What is clear is that most want flexibility and do not want to return to the way it was but for their employers to find new ways.
Reduce the CO2
There is no doubt that the pandemic has a positive impact on CO2 emissions – a great thing for our planet and something that Rumage is excited about as long as the impact can be sustained. And with more people working from home the reduction in traffic has made for safer roads which again is a benefit to more people travelling less.
The founders of Rumage are passionate about not having to burden the planet with an office and all its outputs – but we are humans and we need to connect sometimes and in meaningful ways. As we start our journey, we have found ways to make this work for all, but big business may not have that embedded into their DNA like we do. But, as we grow this will be our challenge too. We worry about how we grow our workforce and culture with the pace of change. Are we even ready for the new world? Can we be truly inclusive and diverse and connected at a deep level with our people as we spread our wings?
Before COVID 19
Many thought that offices were critical to productivity, culture, and winning the war for talent. Rumage was never able to compete in this as it was our own money that was funding our progression. But now, companies are fast adopting videoconferencing and other forms of collaboration and the results have blown the minds of the C-Suite! It really can be possible to grow and thrive as a business and presenteeism is a thing of the past. We must be focused on outputs!
The Rumage board chat often and our management team having weekly all department catch ups. But we come together as an operating board once a quarter- face to face (though last quarter was online). It’s usually later in the day (sometimes for a whole day). When the challenging conversations are over, we dust ourselves off and have dinner together, connecting as humans without any business chat.
Will we ever need an office?
We don’t yet have an office, but that day could come. When it does it will need to be an inspirational place where we are excited to visit, feel safe and productive, feel energised and creatively stimulated. Our space is more likely to be fluid, to be a ‘pop-up’ office that moves to where we need to connect. A place where we can come together on occasion and crack issues, solve problems, build our culture and always a place to have a little fun!