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A new way of working

This issue of Labels & Labeling is the third that has gone to press while the magazine’s team – editorial, sales, production – has been working entirely from home.

This issue of Labels & Labeling is the third that has gone to press while the magazine’s team – editorial, sales, production – has been working entirely from home.

For our editors, columnists and correspondents, this is no great change – we have long been accustomed to not being in the office; if not working from home, then frequently from airport lounges and hotel rooms while travelling. But for the wider team to be working from home simultaneously is unprecedented. 

We have found this lack of time in the office little impediment to our day to day working life. On the contrary, given we are spread across the world, our communication has probably improved thanks to increased use of Zoom, Teams and the like, rather than be diminished. 

We aren’t alone. As Mike Fairley writes in his column this issue, customer testimonials gathered by MIS specialist Cerm show that remote working in the label industry is being embraced.

According to Cerm’s managing director Geert Van Damme, many converters have found that production and productivity in their business has actually increased during lockdown and home working. And that productivity improvements are not just for office functions, but have also been found to be true for areas such as pre-press.

One converter commented: ‘In working from home the Cerm system became the real backbone of communication. We stopped going to someone’s desk to ask them something because we couldn’t, so we opened the Cerm software and were able to find what we needed. Finally we started using what was there all the time.’

That final comment is particularly illuminating. It has taken these exceptional circumstances for us to use existing technology – whether Cerm MIS or Microsoft Teams – to a fuller capacity.

‘The industry has been forced to make much greater use of IT tools so that employees can work from home and, surprise, surprise, they have discovered that it all works – and works very efficiently,’ writes Fairley.

It doesn’t suit everyone, of course. Many roles – both within the label industry and beyond it – cannot be performed remotely; lots of people thrive off the creative dynamic office life can provide. 

But it does seem certain that, at the very least, many people will continue to spend less time in the office – commuting less and perhaps achieving a better work/life balance.

As Mike Fairley says, it may be that Covid-19 has actually provided ‘a longer-term path to improved efficiency, flexibility, productivity and profitability in the new post-lockdown world of labels.’ 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Quirk is group managing editor of Labels & Labeling.

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