Business Monitor

The future of businessand the new ‘no office’ office

This month marketing expert, Paul Clapham, takes a look at digital cash and the new ‘no office’ office. T

demographic. When mum or grandma have a need in terms of explaining even the simplest matter, you’d better be ready on hand with an answer.

This is especially true of digital cash.

We have all had four months of practice at this and assuming no members of your family have been living on a yacht. This all means that there has been a dramatic switch from cash to digital payments. Paypal says that it is surprised and impressed by how many over 50s have joined in during lockdown. Sweden is up to 80% usage so we have some distance to go but you can see the potential. Contactless payments are up 44% during the lockdown with ATM withdrawals down 60%. For a few months those are big changes. There’s a lot more coming. Waving our plastic several times a day is just a beginning; directly associated is online shopping. The big retailers who have had most success in the lockdown have seen sales jump. Even if you dislike it, you will do it. Businesses which have thrown themselves at this have found that it helps them create more turnover.

Just the beginning

The business owner will be coming under pressure from their customers and from their bank to follow suit. You can certainly hear the business bank manager saying ‘this is in your interest; if you don’t respond you may lose some custom; if you do join in you have nothing to lose’. Then you may expect to hear the above statistics again. Most people think ‘sod it’ and throw their hands in the air because they know when the bank manager has them by the short and curlies. In fairness the banks appear to be right on this. People like it and it’s painless. At the same time, the process as a whole seems capable of being misused and I have to ask, are there enough checks and balances to ensure that there are no risks classically for the elderly and vulnerable, such as has just struck Wiewcard this is a German company – you know all those people who pride themselves on their reputation for financial rectitude. But they are holding a $1.9billion baby which is likely to get worse. And leave everybody with well-egged faces. The full outcome

he over 50s are the biggest and fastest growing

is predicted at several billion euros. Not that I’m laughing at the Germans you understand.

But this process is not just about money. It covers much of the way we all work. At the start of 2020, Facebook had planned to recruit 1,000 new staff for its new HQ. By May it had decided that at least half of the future workforce would be working remotely: a big change in a short time. Note, too a favourite criticism of my own – not everybody works from an office when they go to a workplace – they can be in factories, warehouses or farm buildings but you’d never guess at the existence of such places by reading the FT or the Times.

It prompts the question, is this the death of the office. My gut feeling is ‘yes’. They have had a good solid trial as people said that they’d prefer not to go there, certainly not on a daily basis. They will like having a place of work but they will be very pleased that the guy with halitosis will not be sitting in the same space. Let’s assume that your staff like working for you and that they are good. They will recognise the benefits of the ‘no office’ office.

The first one is time. You don’t have to leave home at 8am or earlier and you

will be home at the time that suits you. You can take holidays when you want, not to suit someone else. You don’t need to announce this once everyone is used to the new regime.

No office at all

What about no office at all? I’m in favour: if you’re going to do it, do it properly. It won’t work for everybody – we are a gregarious species. But when we see that it’s saving money, some of which they get, they are inclined to rethink.

Has the crisis created sales opportunities for garment decorators? The companies which were the big beasts during lockdown will be mustard keen to keep their lead. Zoom is the first mover who has had 30 times growth this year. Microsoft is spending marketing budget like money is going out of style. Google is giving the platform Google Meet away free. There are a number of smaller players who predictably don’t aim to stay small. Keep an eye open for them. It is clear that software for home working is going to stay big. I read that the technology is reasonably easy to develop so a lot more players can be expected.

August 2020 |15 |

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