The pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns challenged UK businesses throughout 2020 and into 2021. Home or remote working became a necessity and requirement for the majority of businesses, before (for some) a gradual and phased return to workplaces with suitable acceptable safeguards.
The dilemma or questions facing business owners are “1. Remote working for all employees reducing the need for office space? 2. Bringing everyone back to work from the office locations safely? 3. Or a combination of the two?”
- Is your business adopting or considering a blended working structure like Google of asking employees to work from an office location for a portion of their working week and remotely for the remainder?
- Or have you decided to offer all employees to work from ‘anywhere’ similar to Nationwide?
- Are you in agreement with Goldman Sachs for a return to the office or Twitter whose employees now work from home forever?
Hybrid Working – a combination of remote home working and working from an office location
With Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai emailing all employees to encourage them to return and work from office locations for at least three days per week as lockdown eases. One of the world’s largest companies has endorsed a blended hybrid working environment, as it works best for them.
Sundar Pichai (Google Chief Executive) was quoted extolling the benefits and reasons of returning to the office for a proportion of the working week “…. for more than 20 years, our employees have been coming to the office to solve interesting problems…….in locations where offices had already opened, we’ve seen nearly 60% of Googlers choosing to come back”
Whilst Nationwide allowing their 13,000-office staff to choose their working locations and preferences. The ‘work anywhere’ plan offers Nationwide employee’s choices of working from home, from an office or even from their local high street branch.
Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said: “The last year has taught many of us that ‘how’ we do our jobs is much more important than ‘where’ we do them from. We are putting our employees in control of where they work from, inviting them to ‘locate for their day’ depending on what they need to achieve.”
Remote Home Working
When Twitter founder and CEO announced “Twitter employees can now work from home forever” this made headlines across the world. It was speculated that after COVID, the ‘new normal’ for Silicon Valley might be a workforce heavily geared around remote working, with tech companies needing only minimal staff on-site.
When Nationwide staff were surveyed, 57% said they wanted to work from home full time, with 36% stating their preferred a mix of home and office-based working. Nationwide chief executive Joe Garner stated that research suggested staff made better decisions when working from home. “A third of our people are saying they have an even greater consideration of the human impact of their decisions,” he said.
Nine in 10 workers who have worked from home during lockdown would like to continue in some form, researchers say. A report by academics at Cardiff and Southampton universities suggests the majority of people working from home are as productive, if not more. Thousands of people were surveyed three times between April and June.
- Almost 90% would like to continue working from home in some capacity, with almost half wanting to work at home often or all of the time
- More than 40% said they were able to get as much work done while working from home compared to six months earlier when most were working outside of the home
- Almost 30% believed they got more work done at home, but 30% also said their productivity had fallen
- Those who spent all of their time working from home reported an increase in productivity
Returning to The Office
An example of a business taking the decision to return to an office location full time for all employees is global investment bank, Goldman Sachs. With dates announced of 14th June 2021 for US employees and 21st June 2021 for UK employees to return to working from their office locations.
An official statement from Goldman Sachs read “We know from experience that our culture of collaboration, innovation and apprenticeship thrives when our people come together, and we look forward to having more of our colleagues back in the office so that they can experience that once again on a regular basis.”
So, what next?
So as businesses decide to either return to office locations or offer their employees more flexible home working options. Three important questions that every UK business should be asking themselves….
- How do you overcome the challenges of team working and collaboration for remote working?
- How do you effectively manage people remotely?
- How can you ensure that business processes and standards are being adhered to by remote workers?
What did BDM do?
The BDM Group asked and answered these questions for both of its divisions; BDM Voice a telecommunications supplier to SME’s who are based in Hampshire. And BDM Talk, a leading customer contact centre located in Burgess Hill, Sussex.
BDM Talk remained fully operational throughout the national lockdowns, as an essential customer contact centre for all of our client’s customers. Whereas BDM Voice implemented a hybrid working environment, with colleagues working remotely and from the New Milton office.
So, the challenges of how do two business divisions communicate effectively and work efficiently on projects, tasks and client contact became paramount and business-critical. BDM has two office locations that are over 100 miles apart and with staff, suppliers, clients, customers all working in different locations. Hosting and conducting face to face meetings or travelling to attend was not an option for any scenario safely.
But by adopting and embracing collaboration tools, software and product hardware, the business operations for both BDM divisions, quickly and easily showed operational efficiencies and business continuity. We could host and conduct meetings, remotely manage colleagues effectively and easily, as well as collaborate seamlessly internally as a team or externally with customers, clients and suppliers.
You can read the article on how the use of Microsoft Teams as a collaboration platform, aligned to the hardware investment using Yealink room systems and Avocor interactive touch screens, as well as the implementation of Clarify software for recording collaboration meetings, all integrated with both voice and data systems for seamless communications has worked perfectly for BDM. (Read full article here)
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution or answer for which option or choice is appropriate for your business in the short, medium or long term. Remote working, return to the office environment or a combination with hybrid working are all viable options and will be the appropriate choice for individual businesses. Whether that is a short-term or long-term decision is still very much unknown.
But the essential and core question every business needs to ask and then answer relates to how do your staff/ colleagues/ teams collaborate and communicate effectively when they are working remotely to meet the needs and expectations of your business for your clients/ customers/ prospects/ suppliers?
Focus and answer this question is imperative to the success of which decision you take for where your staff are located to best suit the needs of your business and their productivity.
If you would like to find out more about how BDM Group CEO Mike Surridge and MD Sharon Powell addressed these questions and implemented a solution then please feel free to contact them via email or telephone:
Tel: 0330 159 4000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Google article – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56996722
Goldman Sachs article – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56993886
Nationwide article – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56510574
Twitter article – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56614285
9 out of 10 would continue to work from home – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53946487
Hybrid working – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56331654
Big tech & home working – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56614285