In the modern world, with legions of organisations already functioning on at least a partially virtual basis, remote working is no rarity. For many, it will be second nature by now, or perhaps something they occasionally do as part of their weekly routine. Rather than something new for me personally, it also feels more like déjà vu – I used to work from home full-time for around two years.
Naturally, though, remote working on such a mass scale is an unprecedented phenomenon to our industry and the world as a whole. For workers who have spent years and years commuting into an office, the coronavirus pandemic forcing them to work from home will certainly have caused a shock to the system. But for those of you working remotely for the first time, please ignore the myth of lower productivity: your performance, just as is it does in the office, remains completely up to you. Productivity often increases with fewer distractions.
My personal experience is a case in point. Writing this article has both the same process and outcome whether from home or the office (it’s even being written on the same computer). But there are, naturally, some drawbacks that are important to be avoided. In the July/August edition of Gambling Insider, I wrote a feature on the importance of work/life balance and the risk of burnout for gaming executives. Again, drawing on my personal experience, work/life balance problems were actually heightened when I used to work remotely, as it was more difficult to separate work from home. They became the same thing.
In our industry, especially on the B2B scene, that fear is exacerbated, becoming probably the single biggest drawback of being away from your teammates. As we explore in the May/June magazine, our industry’s conference and networking calendar as a whole has been postponed indefinitely. This means missing out on travel to fantastic locations, wonderful networking events and invaluable face-to-face time with partners and potential clients. And, though this may benefit our health overall, it’s always a shame to miss out on the barrels of free alcohol served at these conferences!
Sitting at home rather than gracing bustling trade shows and generating new leads, especially for client-facing employees, can be a depressing prospect. Luckily, technology helps us to no end in this day and age, with instant messaging and calling applications bringing us closer to people all over the globe. But a positive inner attitude may be all the more important. If you miss your colleagues, which I know I do, just think how happy that eventual post self-isolation reunion will be.
Technology has also aided in the form of virtual conferences, with several events now moving online, allowing the same opportunities for presentations, panels, discussions and information sharing. If you stay in touch with peers and colleagues as much as you can digitally, you may just end up speaking to them more from home than you would have normally; especially if you usually work in office blocks consisting of numerous floors, rooms and departments.
Unfortunately, where our industry has undoubtedly been affected, mostly in the B2C sense, is in retail locations. According to the American Gaming Association, 96% of US casino workers have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while betting shops across the world will naturally receive less business – or none at all should they be forced to close. For workers providing these kinds of services, there is no remote option.
The distribution of Gambling Insider magazine does not remain unaffected, with there being less to no shows for copies to be sent to. Magazines will still be sent to people’s homes, however, while digital traffic has naturally risen. In fact, a focus on digital represents an opportunity even at such a difficult time. An extreme example like this only highlights the need for retail and land-based companies, while still making hay during harvest season, to build a strong technological arm to fall back on in an ever-digitalising world.
So, for anyone complaining about being stuck at home, just think of those for whom remote working is not even an option. Indeed, the chance to remain in work is not to be taken for granted: reach out to your clients more, sign up for virtual conferences and find a hobby that allows you to switch off when you clock off. Follow those simple steps and the pitfalls of working from home will, at the very least, become significantly reduced.
Read the full May/June magazine here.