Time to retire the active wear?
It’s fair to say, it’s been a lot. For many of us, the last 18 months have required next-level flex. The challenges we’ve faced have needed some serious mental agility and resilience which not only changed how we work but also the way we think about work.
Equilibrium was very much a 100% office-based business before the pandemic, and we all had to pivot and adapt to being 100% at home. We then had to handle office Hokey Cokey for months – you let your team in the office, you tell your team to go home, in, out, in, out… you get the idea.
As part of the Culture Team, our job was to ensure our number one priority (our team and our clients) was looked after and supported, making sure that we behaved in a way that was morally (and legally!) correct during such a stressful time.
As Head of Culture, I had several spreadsheets detailing people’s requirements – for example, whether they’d rather be in home or at the office, any personal needs or preferences etc. We were also having daily conversations with people who were struggling with the pressure of working/home schooling/caring. For some people, it was mindboggling – there’s no better word for it.
And now? Well, it’s time to invite everyone back to the office. Hopefully for good this time! So, should we go back to what we were doing before? For Equilibrium, the answer has been a clear and resounding NO.
Asking everyone in the team to return to working in the office five days a week would have undone so much of what we achieved during COVID. We trust our team to do the right thing, so asking them to disrupt their lives to return to 100% office work didn’t make sense. However…
The pandemic has shown us that a strong culture is paramount for so many reasons. It’s at the heart of working relations, teamwork, collaboration. It’s the reason we do what we do and behave the way we behave. This has, historically come from face-to-face encounters which, in my opinion, need to continue. So how do we keep the majority of people happy?
We have implemented a “flexible framework” which is designed to give people the freedom that they had whilst in lockdown (I’m aware of the oxymoron!). They will still be able to take their kids to school, go for a longer walk at lunch time if they fancy it, work different patterns – basically, all the positives that came out of working from home.
However we also want our team to collaborate and learn from one another, and we know that this is easier face to face. So we’re asking our team to be in for approximately half the time. As long as our client service isn’t impacted then we trust our team to do what works for them and us.
It’s early days, but so far the team have adapted brilliantly to the framework. Whilst we are prepared to iron a few creases out as everyone gets used to the new way of working, we trust our team to always do the right thing even when no one’s watching – regardless of whether they’re wearing active wear or a suit!