Back in January, I was standing on the stage at Investigo’s annual awards night in London, talking to our people about yet another record breaking year for Investigo and updating everyone on our growth plans. We were all really proud of our achievements in 2019 and were super excited about what the coming year would bring.
If you were to tell me that night that barely six months on, the world would have changed as drastically as it is did, I wouldn’t have believed you. We’re now approaching the end of July and the COVID-19 crisis has forced us all to adapt our ways of thinking, of working and in many ways, of living.
Consulting Our People
One thing we’ve always believed – that has really been brought home by this crisis – is that a company’s people will always be its greatest asset. In recruitment, which is the ultimate people business, and at Investigo specifically, this is especially true.
We recently conducted a colleague survey to understand our employees’ feelings about returning to the office and to give them the opportunity to shape their future workplace. We’ve used their feedback to help create our new and improved working model, covering both the location and the nature of our work. As a result of their feedback, working at Investigo is going to be a very different experience.
A Flexible Workplace
I think we’ve all come to terms with the fact that the office as a concept will be different to what we knew before, and not just in a physical sense. One thing we’ve seen at Investigo during the last four months (has it been four months?) is that remote working does work. If you trust your people to perform, support them and communicate effectively, there is no reason why organisations can’t keep offering their employees an opportunity to work remotely.
In response to our people’s performance and feedback, as well as the extra time we have spent with our loved ones, we’ve drastically changed our longer term working model and adopted a more flexible and modern approach, in line with a changing world.
When we return to the office at some point in August/September, everyone will now work a four-and-a-half-day week, finishing at lunchtime on Friday. Our employees will continue to receive their full salary, holiday entitlement and their rewards and benefits package will remain the same. Everyone will also have the opportunity to work from home for two days every week, with the remaining days in one of our five offices.
We’ll also have reduced core office hours, with people present at the office between 10am and 4pm but having the flexibility to work the rest of their hours from home. This will give our people the opportunity to avoid the busiest commuting times, to drop off or pick up their children from school, or to spend more time in their own environment.
A new way of working, offering flexibility and based on trust. At Investigo, we trust our people to do what they’re good at and we give them the freedom and the tools they need to do that.
Protecting the Future
These last few months have caused great concern to many businesses and our key aim during this very difficult time has been to protect the long-term sustainability of the business and our people, so that we are all in a strong position to bounce back from this when things return to normal.
In many ways we are lucky. We have a great platform, a strong brand with 250 talented, hardworking and incredibly loyal people and have managed to avoid most of the horrible decisions that some of our competitors have had to make.
Regrettably, we did have to make 14 of our people redundant, as the market has changed and some of the opportunities simply no longer existed, but there are no plans for any further cuts or changes. We wish all of these people well for the future.
When Covid hit, we had recently signed a lease for our new head offices in London. In many ways, you could say this was incredibly bad timing – but from another perspective, the new office represents the opportunity for a physical new start and the perfect chance for us to design our new workspace having learned the lessons of the last four months.
Having spent time talking to the people in our business and understanding what was important to them, our initial return to office plan will include: an adapted layout to accommodate the necessary spacing; rotation plan and safety; a direction of travel through the office; PPE equipment, including face masks, sanitisers and protective equipment where required; and improved cleaning facilities.
We are sending Return to Office packs and letters to all of our people and have also recognised some of our employees aren’t ready to go back to an office and will continue to support them remotely.
We know this has been a challenging time for all our people, particularly those who have been furloughed. We’ve been in constant contact with our furloughed employees to ensure they always feel part of the team, and will be holding return to work inductions to ease them back in to the work place.
We’ve seen signs of improvement in the last couple of months as companies start to adapt to new ways of working. By continuing to learn the lessons of the last four months and to reflect these in our working practices, we have the opportunity to come out of this a better business, and better people.
In the last two weeks we have hired 15 new people to join the Investigo family and have begun to implement new and exciting growth plans for H2 which include new offices, new teams and lots of organic growth.
And so six months on from that night in London, things are very different. But one thing that’s remained the same is my sense of pride, with everyone at the company adapting so well to these incredibly challenging times. I don’t quite know when it will be, but I have no doubt that in the next few months, I’ll once again be standing in front of my team – complete with some new faces – to celebrate our successes and look forward to a brighter future.
If you want to find out more about working for Investigo, please get in touch.