"As an operational business, we have almost 80% of our workforce who are highly operative and 20% who are office based, so remote working has always been a challenge for the whole company given the majority of our staff must be at work to do their job. Equally remote working has traditionally been seen by the workforce as a kind of a ‘privilege’ for senior managers and the leadership.
The COVID-19 period has massively changed this perception and our practices. Firstly, we have been able to see many more employees working from home.
Despite the fact we are an operational business that works 24/7 with key worker status, more employees have been able to work remotely from home and it has proven to be very efficient.
Heads of department have also been able to manage this through rotas as some parts of the team work from home while others work from the office to ensure a presence in the office to support the operational colleagues. This organisation has now been extended and will be maintained even after the current pandemic situation.
It is also important to note that this change of culture has positively impacted the perception of remote working. It is no longer seen as a privilege or an alleged way of being on weekend from Thursday afternoon, but a real ‘tool’ to increase efficiency at work. Some of our staff choose to work from home to focus on a particular topic where they need quietness, whereas some use it to ensure a good work/life balance and ensure they are able to pick up the kids after school.
For operational staff, the main change has been about their ability to be more digital and connected on our social and communication platform Teams through different tools such as tablets and phones.
The best example has been the implementation of a weekly call with our MD who has been able to update the company with COVID-19 news. We have now extended the agenda of this call and our MD gives everyone a weekly update on all relevant topics. In our last pulse survey, 75% of the employees recognised they have the information they need, compared to 45% six months ago.
I believe that remote working throughout this period has changed the nature of our organisation by creating a more agile environment and allowed everyone from different parts of the business to remain connected which did not happen before."
This an excerpt of the November/December 2020 cover story, Home truths: adapting to the new world of work. The full piece appeared in the November/December 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.