In February 2020 FinTrU’s Executive Team attended a leadership development session on managing change in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world. We did not know then just how quickly we would become immersed in dealing with such a high degree of organisational volatility and uncertainty and how apt the timing of this session was.
At this stage, we had already begun to communicate with our employees on the emerging situation around the Covid-19 virus and established a response team to inform all decisions made. The situation changed daily, sometimes several times throughout the day, but we could see that this represented a potentially significant shift in our working practices and one we wanted to be well ahead of. On the 28th of February, we put a restriction on all business travel into and out of our offices and our broader Covid response gained pace.
At all stages of our response, we had two priorities – the health and wellbeing of our employees and the commitment to continued delivery excellence to our clients. We initiated a plan to transition our employees to home working. This was a mammoth task as all employees were office-based before the pandemic. We made a significant investment in digital infrastructure that would allow our employees to work at home in the same way they could in the office. We prioritised groups to transition to home working based on their perceived risk factors and with each day our offices emptied and by the 16th of March, all FinTrU employees were fully transitioned to home working, ahead of the imposed Government lockdown. The achievement of such a swift response represented a cross-organisational collaboration that had never happened at that scale before. Everyone was committed to one clear objective and worked tirelessly to ensure it was a smooth and successful transition.
In some respects, this is when the real work began as we looked to establish our new normal. Never had home and work become so entwined and every employee had their challenges to adjust to.
Out of necessity, we accelerated our digital modernisation journey to enable employees to connect, collaborate, and contribute in a meaningful way. We delivered enablement sessions and training on working remotely as well as wellbeing sessions that acknowledged the many challenges we all faced individually. Wellbeing then and now is a top priority as we recognise the huge impact these times present to our employees. During the last 12 months, we pushed the rules, policies, and procedures to one side to support employees through the many personal challenges they have faced, and in return, they have been committed, engaged, and hugely productive.
As a leadership team, we quickly determined that our ambitious growth plans for 2020 could and should continue and we are very fortunate to work in a resilient industry where demand for our services had never been greater. Our business development, client engagement, hiring, and delivery all transitioned to this remote environment seamlessly.
FinTrU’s unique and thriving culture was a key consideration during the transition to home working and continued to be a key focus throughout the last year. Maintaining our special culture and employee experience was exceptionally important and we designed new and creative ways to bring this to life remotely. Our contribution to charity, diversity and inclusion, learning and development, and social initiatives all continued to flourish, and this can be attributed to the ingenuity and commitment of our employees. From our TrU Networking sessions to our Bounce TrU Winter wellbeing programme, we immersed ourselves in opportunities to engage, focus on positive initiatives and keep connected.
As we approach the first anniversary of working from our homes, we, like other businesses, are actively planning for what the future looks like in terms of post-pandemic working practices and some of the key considerations such as:
Almost daily there are articles and surveys published around what employees want in terms of the future of work and the concept of hybrid working is the most favoured in all data that emerges. Employees want to retain some of the many personal benefits of home working whilst still having time in the office to collaborate and connect with colleagues. The pandemic has unlocked a lot in terms of forward-thinking and digital acceleration, and it would be a missed opportunity not to consider how we could embed this to drive employee experience and business performance.
A report from Microsoft Surface and YouGov entitled Work Smarter to Live Better has found that almost nine out of ten (87%) employees reported their businesses have adapted to hybrid working. This new way of working has allowed employees to live life differently. 55% now use their lunch break to focus on their personal life and 56% reported an increase in their levels of happiness working from home.
So, as we start to enjoy those green shoots of brighter and better days ahead, let us not forget how resilient as a business community we have been but most importantly how resilient our employees have been. At FinTrU we are both grateful and proud of our employees who have risen to the challenge and adapted so well at every stage. They will continue to be central to our approach as we embark on the further change that lies ahead.