There has been no shortage of debate these last few months as to what effect lasting transformative change will have on the new normal. Predicting the future is tricky, so we’ve been looking at what works best for our agency.
As working from home rapidly became the new norm during lockdown, we were immediately struck by an undeniable truth. People need people in a casual and adhoc way to keep them stimulated and happy at work. People need other people outside their immediate project teams to bounce ideas off, and people need people to learn from. A truth more fundamental to us than to other non-creative industries? We think so.
According to a recent article from the Economist “Millions of workers are toiling at home because of the pandemic. Many of them may never go back into the office”
Our attitudes and behaviours as leaders have necessarily become more progressive, acknowledging that the world has changed significantly, and we recognise that for our people the ‘new normal’ is best approached by reimagining our working set up – a combination of WFH and a return to the office where we can. But how? How on earth do we bring our team of 45 individuals back in a way that ‘people have people’ and that is safe, healthy and productive?
Across all sectors there have been many challenges for HR; One being revisiting traditional policies so that they can be more adaptive and able to manage all the new changes - ensuring stability while asking challenging questions. We’ve also been asking ourselves challenging questions and it’s been a great opportunity to ask ourselves why? Why do we work like this? Why do our clients need us? Why have we been able to remain flexible? Why is something a certain way? And the most important ‘why’: why can’t we try this new...?
The road to the office
We initiated 1-2-1 face-to-face consultations for all our employees, asking them the same set of questions to understand more about practicalities, productivity and wellness. From this approach we were able to make informed decisions, openly consulting to understand preferences and opinions within a sustainable operational context. This enabled us to identify our first 2 bubbles to try a shift work model and carefully test a phased return, remembering that a sensitive and staggered approach is vital, so as not to rush colleagues unnecessarily.
The taskforce involved in this has worked incredibly hard to carry out risk assessments, liaise with professionals and the latest government guidelines for offices. This has then enabled us to redesign, deep-clean and revamp our working space to be safe but still a highly collaborative environment.
It may take some time until we are all back together using the space for co-creating in a new flexible way, but we now have our first 10 Sixers stepping into a brand new way of working.
We’re looking forward to
- A real office with real people, with really good wifi!
- Work buddies to talk to about other stuff (apart from COVID) and share creative ideas
- A flexible and safe socially distanced space to create
- Good coffee
- A reason to get a good haircut.
Using both office and technology we are excited for this first step, not back, but most definitely forwards.