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It would be an understatement to say that the past year has had some challenges. Early 2020 saw the introduction of the first UK wide lockdown and the furlough scheme. Across the nation, people were urged to stay at home and offices told to remain closed. Many of us feared for our jobs and the global mobility industry looked like it could have come to a complete standstill. 
Thankfully, we were able to persevere. We realised that the world as we know it would be different, but not unrecognisable. It was clear that people would still be moving to other countries for work but would require an extra level of service to ensure that they could move safely to protect themselves, their families, and their new co-workers. 
Many of the adaptations made by destination service providers like us could be seen as negative. We could claim that our jobs have been more challenging and harder to achieve a good level of service, due to the restrictions; but that is not entirely true. In every challenge and obstacle that life throws at us, there are opportunities to learn, to grow, find encouragement and change for the better. 
We discovered, as a whole nation, that people could be trusted to work at home and be flexible, that our employees truly cared about the establishments they worked for and the people they serve. 
When talking specifically about the job we do here at RSS, we have noticed the benefits of video conferencing with our clients and their employees. 
Pre-pandemic, we spoke on the phone with our clients to discuss their moving requirements, how we can help, and to answer any questions that the customer had. This worked fine for many years, thousands of clients and their families had been successfully relocated and companies were very happy with our service. It was certainly a case of “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it”. 
Then the pandemic came along which brought the normalisation of video calls. People were not always comfortable with video calls. It was a rarity and often required a quiet room with a tidy backdrop, some time needed to be set aside for some self-grooming so that you looked presentable and talking on the phone was just more convenient. More comfortable. Less intrusive. 
Many people throughout the world have now had to isolate and had their places of work closed, which meant that video calls became a common occurrence, and guess what? We quite like it! 
It was only when everyday social interaction was taken away, we realised how much we needed it and missed it. Looking into someone’s eyes as you speak, reading facial reactions and smiling are subtle ways of connecting that you just cannot achieve over the phone. 
Now that initiation calls with our clients are mostly done on the likes of Microsoft Teams, we have opened a whole new realm of customer service and all the benefits that it entails. 
We’ve learned that our account managers and the clients themselves are finding the service more personable. We’re welcoming people into our homes, albeit virtually, which has increased the level of trust, friendship and openness. We can have long-form “Face-to-Face” conversations, featuring the occasional cat or dog, and that has been refreshing. We’ve been asked questions and had problems shared and solved that people may not have felt comfortable sharing if it wasn’t for the comfort felt by seeing a friendly face. 
Speaking on the phone with someone is much like reading a book. You have a certain amount of information provided to you, but your imagination is naturally going to be working overtime in terms of imagining a vision of the person you are talking to and all the characters in their lives. It’s more difficult to read the real feelings behind a voice, a long pause or a sigh. But now we have the gift of sight! 
We can look into the eyes of a person who is nervous or unsure about their move, and act accordingly. We can tell if someone has a question that they want to ask but just does not know how to ask it, or when someone is seeming more visibly relaxed, thanks to the information that you have provided. 
Moving to a new country or a city is a big deal. It’s hard enough imagining the new life you’re going to have without having the biggest decision of your life being put in the hands of a voice and an email signature. 
We have always encouraged the clients to get in touch if they have any questions, no matter how small or trivial, but it’s understandable that some people may not feel comfortable asking some questions, or worried that they’ll become a burden. However, when you have connected with someone in a visual way, you really do feel more like they are asking help from a friend as opposed to an “Account Manager”. 
We’ve all felt the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to sacrifice and get used to a new way of life. But when has “new” ever been a bad thing? This has been just one example of a positive that we can take out of this experience and I hope that we can continue to learn and change for the good of our fellow humans. 
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