The working from home initiative to mitigate the spread of coronavirus has opened up a much-needed discussion about whether businesses across every industry sector should be providing more flexible working arrangements for their people.
It’s certainly led to the team here at Percayso Inform analysing how we’ve all found the experience of working from home, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday (OK and more often than not, outside these hours!).
Change in the technology landscape has made working from home possible for all levels within a business to go about the day job and stay in touch with colleagues and clients. Cloud-based platforms like Amazon Web Services and G Suite, and communication platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams together with increasingly powerful laptops and smartphones, have all combined to make the previously unthinkable become increasingly more normal. Without these developments, it doesn’t bear thinking about how we all would have fared had Covid-19 struck even a decade ago.
When lockdown happened back in March, being a new tech ground up business, we were well placed to seamlessly adapt to the new norm. However, it’s not just a case of having the right tech stack and equipment to make it easy and we were genuinely concerned about how our people would adapt mentally. While many of us were used to working from home on a semi-regular basis and being out and about visiting partners and clients, it’s a different matter having to do it all the time – and especially for those having to home-school their kids at the same time.
Six months down the line, a virtual sit-down with our team to discuss how we have each individually found the experience revealed that we unanimously felt that both productivity and focus increased. Everyone felt that they were enjoying their job more, were happier and had a greater sense of wellbeing. Removing the grind of the daily commute has had a hugely positive impact as it has not only saved everyone money but given them back precious time to spend with their loved ones.
And as a business, we’ve seen that happiness and wellbeing translate into a positive impact on our performance. Given the fact that we only officially launched ourselves on to the UK insurance market a few weeks before lockdown, our sales pipeline has filled up far more quickly than we had anticipated.
We’ve therefore made the decision that everyone will work from home permanently. While we firmly believe that this works for us, we appreciate it won’t be right for many businesses out there. There’s a lot of debate going on right now as highlighted in this recent article in Insurance Post – but in our view, it’s good to see businesses across our industry invested in exploring the options and engaging with their own teams to determine the best way forward for their business.
Our decision wasn’t just based on what’s right for our current team as we see offering a home-working environment an advantage when it comes to future recruitment. Removing the mandate to work from our previous base in the heart of Nottingham expands the talent pool available to us – something that Insurance Times touched on in a recent piece. Location will no longer be a factor which we think will make it easier to find someone with the exact skills, experience and profile to fit each particular role. And as we spread our wings internationally, it should make it easier to hire ‘native’ speakers. The benefits of perspectives from different cultures and countries can only help create a well-rounded group of professionals to take our business forward.
With every positive of course, there is a potential negative and we are concerned about the impact of our decision on the small corner of Nottingham that we previously called home. The departure of office workers from town and city centres has undoubtedly led to a drop off in trade for coffee shops and retailers.
Fortunately we’re in the privileged position of owning our offices and have re-let a chunk of space to organisations that are downsizing as a result of offering more flexible arrangements to their own staff. We’re also retaining a hot desking area for those who do want to get away from the home environment as well as meeting space that will allow us to see clients in a Covid-safe way. And the local businesses in the local communities where our team members live are certainly hanging out the bunting with the increase in trade that they’re seeing!
So it’s adieu to the office for the Percayso Inform team and hello to a happy, motivated workforce relishing the challenge of growing our business over the coming years.