A typical day in the office has changed rather a lot since I started out in business.
Well, I never really had an office, exactly. We used to work from my houseboat, then from my old house – and now I work on the move and often from a hammock in the British Virgin Islands.
But I used to spend hours sifting through the many letters that were sent in and responding to as many as possible. I was recently sent this picture from one of my former assistants, Sarah Williams, who thinks this was around 28 years ago, back when we were operating Virgin from Holland Park.
We were drowning in paper and used to travel with four big suitcases full of letters to answer.
I often hear people curse how many emails we get and how people are just glued to their phones.
We should all remember what the alternative is – imagine being surrounded by every email in your inbox as a bit of paper. I’m very thankful that communicating with people has never been as easy as it is today. It gives you such freedom – and saves a lot of paper!
I like to get up and go through my emails early on in the day so I feel on top of my work, but I don’t stay attached to my phone. If I’m at an event or meeting people, I try and be present and engage in what’s going on around me.
Technology has made everything so much easier – but we shouldn’t let it control us. There was less urgency to reply that very second when I had received a letter in the post. We should give ourselves some boundaries. Generally everything works if you turn it off and back on again – and resetting and rebooting ourselves with some rest, relaxation, interacting with other people and exercising is always a good idea. It’s healthy to have some downtime away from scrolling screens.
But at the end of the day, whether you’re writing a letter or sending an email, it’s always been about people, and it still is. The method may be different, but the focus is the same.
Virgin has always been about championing the consumer to offer something better, and for that to work you need to take on board feedback and look after your customers.