It’s a year since we closed our office as part of the first national ‘stay at home’ order from the government. In that time, a lot has happened, and every aspect of our lives has changed. While we remain under a ‘stay at home’ directive, the rollout of vaccine programmes offers us a sense of optimism that our lives may soon be able to open up once more.
It seems appropriate, that on the anniversary of our first lockdown we take a moment to look back on what we have learned from the past 12 months, and how it may help shape how we work as we emerge from the pandemic.
In the beginning…
The first few days and weeks we focused on the practical aspects of supporting the team. How was everyone? Did they have everything they needed to work from home? We were lucky that we were already offering the team options to work flexibly and remotely and that our clients were also comfortable with remote meetings, so that side of the transition was relatively slick.
But we missed one another
Those conversations over a coffee, a shared joke and that sense of team – the things you take for granted when you are in the same physical space had to be reimagined virtually. We set up daily social meetups, a buddy scheme, held Friday pub nights, socially distanced picnics, cocktail making and cheese tasting evenings to make sure we all kept that sense of connection and togetherness.
To help us all collaborate and discuss ideas as we worked, we rolled out virtual office meetings so that everyone had the opportunity to work alongside colleagues (over Microsoft Teams) if they wished.
Expanding our team
Over the past year we welcomed 10 people to the C+C team. This has been amazing – we are so happy to have them with us – but the concept of working with people you have never met in person still seems strange!
Flexible and remote working were always part of our USP when it came to recruitment and of course, the pandemic meant everyone was offering this too. However, we found that a shift in mindset accelerated by the lockdown, also meant that candidates were increasingly making their searches location-agnostic - we now have team members located all over the UK.
It made us think even more about others
‘Where people matter’ isn’t just a strapline, it’s part of our mindset. When it became clear that the effects of the pandemic on each of us individually, as a team and as part of the wider community were so varied, it made us think about how we could support those around us. We made a number of employee-nominated charitable contributions, re-purposed computer equipment for home-schoolers, and initiated our pay-it-forward Christmas campaign helping causes close to the hearts of our team. Connecting with our community to make a positive difference is something we’ll continue as we emerge from lockdown.
So what will we bring with us as we emerge from the pandemic?
Much has, and will continue to be, written about the future of the workplace and this will vary from sector to sector. Will people ever return to the office? From our experience of this past year, the short answer for us is ‘yes, but differently’. Empowering the team with the flexibility to work in a way that supports them, whether in the office, remotely or both – hybrid working – looks set to become the norm. We’ve seen the time and cost-savings of working remotely but are also more aware than ever of the need to make connections, collaborate and come up with new ideas in person. For some of our newer team members, establishing social connections and to provide opportunities for spontaneous learning require a little more face-to-face time.
With that in mind, we are counting down the days until we can meet in small bubbles at our new offices.
New offices you say? Yes, watch this space…