Re-imagining the office

If you ever had to re-imagine the office post-Covid-19, how would you do it?

Personally, I think a very interesting opportunity lies in getting the answer right to the above question. And I am pretty sure, it won’t be easy.

Look at it this way;

Many companies have already stated that their going to offer work-from-home as an option going forward and as a result are letting go of office space. Some companies have even abandoned the office altogether.

At the other end of the spectrum, many people are reeling from being socially secluded and not being able to have in person interactions with colleagues and co-workers. While distance is great for some, closeness and togetherness is life’s salt for others.

Then add in the pre-pandemic office and it’s rather mundane interior design and commodity perks (fussball tables, Friday bar etc) seeming rather dated and boring by now and ready for the total revamp.

And then – and then – potentially add in some nifty new tech.

What you have is a super interesting cocktail of ingredients that could potentially make up a very interesting and tasty recipe for the Future of (On Premise) Work.

And my gut feeling is that the ones who get this right – probably from starting all over reimagining the experience, function and most important feeling of the future office – will have a golden opportunity.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The living room clinic

Have you ever tried going to a hospital for a consultation on something only to end up feeling it was a bit of a waste of time?

I certainly have. While I have the utmost respect for doctors, I find the format of a 20 minute chat that in essence can ruin an entire day somehow obsolete. And when I combine that with the financial strain the healthcare sector is under, I cannot help thinking that we should be able to do it in a much better way.

So here’s an idea:

What if we left the hospitals for the really sick? Those with such severe problems that they need to be there physically to receive the absolute best care. And then leave the doctors to focus on that?

What if on top of that we moved all the consultations – the chats, status updates etc. – to the comfort of peoples own homes. Moved the clinics into the living rooms so to say?

The technology is more or less there. And the readiness is getting there too.

On the technology side we have more and more point-of-care devices and services that we can use in the comfort of our own homes. Sensors get developed all the time enabling us to be always-on with the healthcare systems, if we need to be. And they are all getting easier to use effectively driving down the barrier of usage.

On the readiness side, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. We all now realize that we need to find new solutions that are not based on physical presence, and in those terms the past year has done more for acceptance of telemedicine than the past couple of decades combined.

Maybe such a move towards the living room might also have some other unintended positive consequences?

Maybe communication between patient and doctors would improve? Coming into the hospital clinic on the doctors home turf might be a challenge to patients who may leave after a consultation feeling that they didn’t get to tell, how they were really feeling or what really bothered them, because they were somehow stifled by ‘the system’.

Maybe being able to communicate from your own living room based on your own observations and own readings would level the playing field more and – ultimately – lead to better outcomes?

It is certainly worth to take this unique moment in time to investigate the potential positive impact of the clinic in the living room more.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Challenge the status quo

What is the one thing driving startup opportunity in the post-pandemic era?

The willingness of everybody to challenge the status quo and be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things and – with that – new products and services from new and inspiring companies with strong value propositions.

Now, what is the status quo?

Actually it is two things. And most of us are eager to leave both behind.

There is the status quo of the pandemic lockdown. Of course we want to be rid of that and get our freedom back.

But there is also the status quo of what was before the pandemic, and where we have had more than a full year contemplating what if anything that was before we would like to change. And how changing things are actually – even if forced by a pandemic – (by and large) less painful than what we imagined it to be.

Look at it this way:

The barriers of “that isn’t possible” or “I don’t need that” have been lowered by the past 12+ months of Covid-19.

If that isn’t a signal of opportunity to reimagine and reinvent things, I don’t know what is.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Christmas stress

So, Denmark is defacto closed down again due to Covid-19.

Quelle surprise.

And just in time for the Christmas holidays?!

Or maybe not given that obviously a lot of people were caught off guard yesterday evening when scrambling to malls to get the last presents before same malls with only a few hours notice closed until early in the new year.

That will be a potential infection bomb, but I digress.

Over the last few weeks, I have had the discussion with many about how to get the Christmas presents under the tree this year.

Black Friday showed us that ecommerce was not the safe bet due to delivery issues, so I told people to head to the stores and get what they needed in good time.

Also in relation to potential new Covid-19 restrictions: Get it organized while you can.

I hate it when I am right about something like this, but what can you do?

At the end of the day nothing beats a Christmas present you actually have in your hands and can check off your list as one less stressful thing to worry about versus something that are more or less lost in the mail.

Now we’re in a Catch 22 of sorts:

Ecommerce has had – and still has, I suppose – quite huge issues with logistics, and there are very little big stores to get anything from in a physical sense.

I feel for you.

What to do? Dunno. But it’s time to get creative.

And while your busy figuring your Plan H (or whatever letter in the alphabet you have reached about now) out in order to be ready for the joyous night, ponder the fact that for all the digitalization we cherish and bet our farms on, it still comes down to physical factors;

Being able to actually get the things you want. In your hands.

It’s very old school, I know, but at the end it’s what matters. No matter the fancy tech.

Nothing is stronger than the weakest link.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Qualify for WFH

There are a lot of fallouts from Covid-19, once we have the vaccine(s) and things start heading back towards some kind of normal (whatever degree of pre-pandemic behaviour that might turn out to be).

One of the ones I am most curious about is the Working-From-Home (WFH) phenomenon. How much of that will stick, and how will it pan out, once it’s not a 100% necessity anymore?

WFH policies after the pandemic will be made difficult by two things: A plethora of ways people have administered it during the pandemic, and employers inability to dictate what employees in reality do when they’re out of sight.

It is going to be a ton of ‘fun’, and I don’t think it will be possible to go back to the old ‘command-style’ model of employment in the past, where employers could just belch out orders and employees would comply – few questions asked (but unlimited eyes rolling behind the managers back).

Personally, I have never been a big fan of top-down orders. But on the other hand I don’t think we’re suited to too much independence, if we are to achieve great things as teams, companies and society as such. So what to do?

Deutsche Bank has circulated an idea to tax WFH due to the associated decrease in costs by not using commuting services, lunch on the go etc.

I think the idea is stupid and not the way forward. Frankly, it’s the kind of idea that a bank would come up with.

What we might be looking at instead is qualifying people for WFH privileges.

Instead of just sending people home and letting them decide for themselves, we might need to make sure they have the skills and the mindset to make it on their own, before we let them. Have them spend some time in the office, delivering on their tasks, cooperating with the team etc before moving to a more flexible schedule.

The concept is not new. It’s basically the cornerstone of bringing up children. As a parent, you don’t let your kid go to school on her own, before you’re absolutely sure she can handle herself in the bustling traffic.

It’s not only about trust. It is also about having routines and the experience to ensure that you can still perform, no matter where your team is located.

I fully realize that there are a lot of companies that already operate remotely, and are very good at doing that. My point is just that there is a difference between being born this way and having to learn and adapt to it.

Most fall into the latter category (no, your company is not Automattic), and it is those it will be interesting to follow, as Covid-19 transforms back into a ‘new’ normal.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Customer loyalty during a crisis

A lot of people say that there is never a time as good to start a new venture as in a time of crisis.

Maybe it’s true. I don’t know. But lets assume it is. What are the things that makes it different and perhaps even better?

Normally, most would suggest that the reason it is a good time to start is that you can put pressure on the ressources you need to get going; vendors are hungry for cast and talent may not have the opportunities and bargaining power they had before.

I am not sure that goes for the tech sector, though.

But what I do find interesting is when it comes to customers and customer relationships. Maybe that’s where the real differentiator is?

When I look at my own personal spending patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic, they have largely gone one way: Down. I have cut out a lot of the day-to-day personal operating expenses – the little guilty pleasures – that I have been used to. Simply because I haven’t been able to venture out in the same way.

Now that my spending has been cut back, I am using the opportunity to assess my future spending with bigger scrutiny. I think more about what I spend the money on, and I think more about making sure that I get the value I pay for. And that I relentlessly cut out excess spending.

Case in point: I have become a cable cutter. Goodbye flow TV and big packages. Hello, select streaming services. Net effect? Minus 50 percent in cost. Per month.

I am not assuming that I am the only one who have experienced this. And let me add more to it:

It’s not that I think I am worse off than before. I think what I have now suits my needs better and more precise, and all the stuff I have cut out were things, I could easily live without.

Let’s go back towards the point about a time of crisis being a great time to start a new venture:

Perhaps it is not so much about the short term propensity towards trying to squeeze your suppliers, partners and employees.

Perhaps it is more about making damn sure that you deliver real value to your customers based on what they define as real value – not you.

Maybe it is about making sure that every single time one of your customers contemplate whether they can live without what you’re delivering, they will quickly move on to the next item on their list, because what you’re doing is an evident ‘keeper’.

If you get that out of starting a new venture during a time of crisis, I think you might just have something that will not only be able to make it through the crisis but actually thrive during and afterwards.

You’re welcome.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The WFH problem

The other day at work we were discussing a whole range of potential themes to dig more into, as the fall approaches, and we’re taking on exploring new, interesting ideas.

One of the themes, we of course quickly came to discuss is “Work From Home” (WFH) as a general trend. I don’t think I need to explain why:

WFH has become a necessity due to Covid-19, and we’re already seeing how different sectors are catching on. As an example real estate agents in Denmark has already started touting the availability of “the home office” as a cool feature of listed properties.

So a lot of things are being done, and people are looking for business opportunities in this New Normal. As they should.

However, I can’t escape the feeling that we have got this the wrong way – at least from a stand point of maintaining our ability to be innovative and creative about things (something fx the Danes have always prided themselves in).

What do I mean?

An awful lot of ‘success stories’ on WFH that I hear have to do with jobs, where you can tick boxes, i.e. task or to do-lists. People find it a breeze to be able to sit at home with little or no distractions and just get stuff done.

I get it.

But what we don’t hear so much about are the proactive, creative processes. Those that are necessary for innovation and creativity to happen and for those task lists to be generated in the first place.

Why?

Because they are infinitely harder to do remote. They crave for people coming together and finding new ways of doing things; of being in the moment, be open and just make a collective go at it.

“But there are a lot of people doing workshops remotely and being quite efficient about it”, you might argue.

Perhaps.

But still: Every article I see about how to fx do brainstorms remotely are ultimately guides into turning the creative process into a…manageable to do-list. And then we’re right back where we started.

I understand a lot of people will say and feel they have good experiences being efficient about creative processes and put real innovation on a formula. I just beg to differ.

I think it’s next to impossible for 99 out of 100 people to remotely ‘plan’ for creative breakthroughs that ultimately end up unlocking entirely new and valuable revenue streams.

I think it takes getting together, deploying all your human senses, be in the moment, let your mind wander, pick up on the little signals in the room etc.

Anyway, that’s just me and how I feel.

But what I am certain off is that we are looking at WFH through the wrong lens; that we’re (again) confusing short term results for long term sustainability.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Launching “A Helping Hand?”

Today, inQvation and a bunch of other leading Danish VC’s are launching the initiative “A Helping Hand” aimed at helping the Danish startup ecosystem through the consequences of Covid-19.

The idea is as simple as its brilliant: Apply and receive 30 minutes of free advice from industry VC experts on how you make sure that your startups make it through this unprecedented crisis.

The initiative reflects in a super positive way on how we think and work at inQvation. Whenever we engage with a startup we do it not only with capital capital but also with human capital;

Expertise and a helping hand in trying to help the entrepreneurs, we work with, become as successful as (in)humanly possible.

Or as we put it:

We. Help. Entrepreneurs. Succeed.

No matter, who you are, what stage you’re at, what industry you’re in and what your Covid-19 related challenges are, apply today for free advice from people who have seen and experienced more than most – and are there to help.

It’s an offer too good to pass on.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)