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COVID-19 and the Rise of the Engaging Workplace : Part One

This is the first of three entries where I’ll share Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

Moving to Work from Home

As humanity battles the invisible spread of COVID-19 around the world, Americans have only just begun to pack up their workspaces and bring them home. Guest rooms, closets, basements, and tool sheds are being rearranged and repurposed to be that “work away from work” that they have always wanted. If it turns out you don’t have a suitable space at home, Zoom Meetings is ahead of Microsoft Teams in allowing you to use a background image of your choice to hide your humble abode from coworkers’ prying eyes.

Certainly, COVID-19 will transform our lives in many ways. This week I spoke to the GM of a hotel that our team at Creating Margin recently completed a digital signage project with. Cainan told me that COVID-19 is projected to impact the hospitality industry six times worse than September 11th, 2001. A dire outlook for sure, and probably true for at least a few more months. In time, tourism will rebound, and – once we gain herd immunity to this novel coronavirus – large gatherings like conventions and tradeshows will again be possible. As social creatures, we will all look forward to this return to normal.

Image showing work from home statistics

WHAT WILL THE EXPERIMENT SHOW?

While Silicon Valley companies have shown that Work From Home (WFH) policies can be successful – and, as tech companies are inclined to do, trumpet their findings from the rooftops – most SMBs await the verdict on whether this can work on such a large scale. TIME has called this “the largest work from home experiment” ever conducted.

One area that will be forever imprinted by this crisis is our workplaces. This week I’ve several articles on this topic and surrounding concerns. I thought about the role that office amenities alongside work from home policies can play in employee retention. I added my experiences, having worked for over 12 years with dozens of Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of small and medium sized businesses to sell and implement digital signage and workplace technologies. My goal for these articles is to offer a glimpse into the future of our workplaces and how they will transform in the wake of COVID-19. I will explain how the digital signage and workplace management technologies that Creating Margin delivers will help to create workplaces defined by their experiences, not just a place with a desk, computer monitor and some family trinkets. The workplace of the future will facilitate experiences and connect teams by triggering ideas, nourishing culture, allowing for real world testing of software/hardware applications, and more. The prospect of experiences may be more important than ever as employees look for reasons to justify returning to an office.

Who Is Creating Margin?

I am the founder of a technology startup in Boise Idaho called Creating Margin. Our team at Creating Margin specializes in selling, installing and supporting digital signage and workplace management systems. One thing that makes us different is that we fill a specific need for customers which creating the content that end users show on a digital signage screen. Digital signage content might look like a 3D graphical map of a multi-floor facility, a touch screen user interface (UI), or the branded template that displays company announcements in the best way possible. We provide complimentary professional services to program solutions or can configure existing solutions/templates to work for a unique business. And we’ve been successful: in our six years of business we’ve been able to implement digital signage and meeting management tools for over 200 organizations.

Creating Margin Moves to Work from Home (WFH)

I’ll admit – moving the staff to WFH was uncomfortable for me. I believe strongly that being physically present with team members is a crucial part of scaling a start-up business, so I took some time to make the decision. The bell curve of Coronavirus’ spread made the decision for me and not a moment too soon – on our third WFH day, the Governor of Idaho Brad Little mandated that nonessential businesses send employees home. Idaho now has roughly 700 cases; at the time of our move to WFH, only 2 weeks ago, there were fewer than 20.

This is the first of three entries where I’ll share Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

In the next entry I will further explore this massive shift to Work from Home – which, it turns out, has been happening since the 1990’s – and we’ll discuss the concept of “the office” and how it came to be.


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Author by : Matthew Krebs

Matt Krebs is the Founder and President of Creating Margin, a company he started in 2014. He founded Creating Margin on the idea that we can leverage technology to create more efficient workplaces for our customers while allowing team members to thrive.