In his recent announcement of the JobMaker Digital Business plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the pandemic has seen businesses undergo “a decade of change in a matter of months”.
Curio Projects director Natalie Vinton agrees that COVID-19 has spawned a rush of digital adoption in the workplace, although she’s a long term believer in making the most of flexible working arrangements enabled by technology.
SmartCompany spoke to Vinton about how accelerated digital adoption is changing the way we work.
An early adopter advantage
Vinton describes Curio Projects as a “one stop shop for all things related to heritage, connecting people and place”. Essentially, Curio is a highly skilled team of heritage experts who consult on projects across the public and private sectors.
Since she operates in such a highly specialised industry, Vinton has always found it useful to look beyond physical proximity to find the right staff.
“Archaeologists by nature seem to be adventurous”, says Vinton.
“For me to attract the best employees that I want to attract, it’s got a lot to do with their cultural fit and the way that they view the world. I have to be very open in where those people live and the way that they do work.”
That’s why Curio Projects was an early adopter of digital communication and collaboration technologies.
“Swapping over during COVID-19 was easy, because we already all have laptops and docking stations. We’re used to dealing sometimes with each other and with clients in different locations.”
Digital communication and collaboration
Vinton enjoys mixing work with travel and likes to give her team the opportunity to do the same.
“That’s part of my philosophy”, she says. “You want your staff to be relaxed and happy.”
Now that COVID-19 has all but halted international travel, Vinton and her team are relying even more heavily on the digital collaboration tools they already valued.
Curio Projects favours Microsoft Teams for meetings in addition to Zoom. Vinton says software that allows you to share your screen is especially important to facilitate real time collaboration in a remote environment.
“I just had a meeting where we had the PDF and the architect was drawing where he wanted to put a bridge”, Vinton says.
“From that perspective, it’s also very useful to have that ability to use touchscreens”, she says.
Cloud-based software and solutions
According to Vinton, being able to share visually rich documents via the cloud has been crucial to doing business during the pandemic.
“If you can’t sell as well in person, it’s really important to have beautiful visuals”, says Vinton.
“That’s why the Adobe Acrobat side of things has been really good for us. Everyone has Adobe Acrobat.”
“You can put together beautiful packages, you can PDF them so they’re not so large, which means you can send them around.”
A cultural shift towards digital adoption
Vinton says COVID-19 has forced people to quickly revaluate their outlook on digital collaboration and cloud technologies. Sceptics and slow movers have been forced to catch up or be left behind.
“One of my longest team members can write the most amazing reports you’ll ever see. And she’ll do it from the back of a Combi on the way to Burning Man.”
Vinton says that before COVID-19, the business community was much less accepting of the remote working arrangements digital collaboration tools allows.
“I trust my team”, says Vinton. “But you sort of had to hide it from clients.”
Attitudes have changed dramatically in 2020.
“The biggest shift is that people who were previously very anti-flexible workplace have had to adopt it and get used to it”, says Vinton.
These days, Vinton describes a growing understanding that a digitally collaborative workplace is the way forward.
“It’s just an acceptance that as long as you’re available on Zoom or phone and you can send things for people to look at and share screens, you can collaborate with people”, she says.
“With all the acceptance now, clients are happy if one of my staff is ringing him from Brazil. They’re not going to think that they’re not doing their job properly.”
Overall, Vinton suggests digital technology will continue to be a key factor in shaping the way we work.
“Without technology, I couldn’t allow such flexible working conditions”, says Vinton.
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