We took a break from the BIR Survey last year due to a change in personnel managing the survey but have come back this year under renewed focussed to report on perhaps the most disruptive year in recent memory. BIR is pleased to welcome on board Stephen Phillips who is heading up the survey now. Stephen is an experienced leader of global teams with a successful background in enriching client relationships and engagement in financial services.
The survey this year, unsurprisingly, is heavily influenced by the pandemic. Our global theme is one of changing work practices. The amount and richness of the research this year was such that we have decided to split the results into 3 separate reports which will span over our March, June and September issues. “Never let a good crisis go to waste” – The 2020 Business Information Review Survey: Part I, which is available online to read now, focusses on ‘The Organisation’ looking at structure, where information services sits and what the effects of remote working have been and Staffing – have teams in the last 12 months, downsized, increased or stayed the same.
Something that really stood out for me was the effects of remote working on teams and client engagement. Overall, as a whole, the sector adapted fairly fluidly to working from home and work life continued on as people adapted to video conferencing through Zoom or MS Teams or similar. Connections were still being made, video enabled us to still maintain a richer communication form than just voice alone but feedback from some was that it just wasn’t good enough particularly when it came to maintaining and developing those relationships where trust was a major factor. There were those who looked to get back to the office as soon as it was possible/safe to do so to be able to maintain that valuable face to face interaction.
Why is this physical face to face interaction so important to us? A look at why video conferencing can tire us out in and differences in this and ‘true’ face to face communication is explored in a BBC article entitled The reason Zoom calls drain your energy. The article gives some insight into why, although we are face to face in this medium it is not the same as physically being face to face with someone. Further in a recent article on Reuters, ‘Major employers scrap plans to cut back on offices’ it is noted that there is reduction of 52% of chief executives considering cutting back on office space from a survey conducted in August 2020 to one conducted recently. Reflecting with colleagues on this recently I heard that many sales leaders were looking forward to ‘getting back out there’ to meet over coffee etc. with clients. There is something special about face-to-face communication it seems that even a global pandemic cannot extinguish.
Coming up in part 2 in June we take a look at the operating environment, technology and content trends.