There have been a lot of headlines recently about Boris Johnson’s drive to get more people back to the office – and while it might not be appropriate for all businesses, the time feels right for us.
This week our commercial team at FB will be moving from mainly working from home to mainly working in the office. No doubt a number of our working practices will change moving forward but we felt it was important to get people back to our locations in Letchworth and Blackburn – and we have invested in a thermal imaging camera and clean air system to make it as safe as possible for this to happen.
For our people, travel is not a barrier to coming into the office in the way it might be for some others. We have a local recruitment policy with 97% of staff living within 10 miles of our offices. It takes most of the team less than 15 minutes to get to work and is much easier than for the many people in the Letchworth area who commute into London each day.
Never a day goes by in our offices without an interesting discussion on some technical issue, a customer or market preference, or the ethical reasons for why we do or do not do certain things. When we spend time together, we learn from each other and spark creativity to become better at what we do as individuals and as a company. While we’ve tried to keep up the camaraderie throughout lockdown with regular video chats, these spontaneous exchanges have been sorely missed.
When I had a home office, I got my work-life balance terribly wrong. Going into the office allows home to remain a sanctuary for relaxing and switching off. Jumble the two consistently, and you lose out on both fronts.4.Physical health
Very few of our staff actually have a home office. At home, most people have to choose between sofas, beds, kitchen tables or even the floor to use their laptop – and are moving less. This is okay for a few days but long term this could have a damaging impact on our bodies. At the FB offices, our fully height-adjustable desks and state-of-the-art office chairs help our people to stay comfortable, healthy, and productive.
5. Mental health
Finally, there is increasing evidence that lockdown has had a profound effect on people’s mental health – and increased social isolation and loneliness are key risk factors for mental health issues. Many staff have coped well with lockdown and furlough, but some have not. We have always been a social business and done many things during lockdown to keep the team engaged with the business and each other. In a recent staff survey, 99% said they had told friends and family they feel the company has handled the situation well – and getting people back into the office is the next stage of this.
The coming weeks and months are likely to throw up yet more challenges, but we have a fantastic team and together I know we can overcome them.