September 26, 2021

SME Business News

Small Business News UK

Experts explore how to re-imagine the workplace

Industry experts discussed the changing face of the working environment, sharing their experiences and strategies in the latest virtual event facilitated by leading business membership organisation Chambers Wales.

80 businesses registered for the session which was chaired by Rachael Flanagan, Managing Director of Mrs Buckét Cleaning Services and featured Gemma Archibald, COO of Alcumus; Cecilia Fritz, Senior Manager of the People Department at Sony UK Technology Centre; Kevin Mashford, Sales Director at Paramount Interiors; and Mark Siddons, Associate at Cooke & Arkwright.

An in-event poll revealed that 41% of businesses are still working from home full time, 59% will not be changing their premises and 50% placed mental health and wellbeing as the main consideration regarding where their team will work in the future.

The results and interactive Q&A shaped the conversations of the panellists as they explored how to re-imagine the workplace through the lenses of cost, productivity, wellbeing and safety during the hour-long event.

Kevin Mashford said: “Agile working is working when, how and where you want and this poses a massive challenge for businesses who have traditionally had offices with long-term leases. To manage this, employers will have to look to three criteria – equity, engagement and ease – as we increasingly move to a more flexible, hybrid way of working.

“Bringing joy into an agile workspace will make people want to be in spaces. More people are seeing the value of workplace analysis as they reimagine their offices as destination spaces and hubs of collaboration to enhance the employee experience and reflect company culture.”

Mark Siddons added: “While tenants are generally reducing their office space, there is a desire for quality accommodation and making more of the space that they have. Creating spaces for collaboration and making the office an engaging experience will encourage more employees to return.”

In addition to changes to physical spaces, the panellists shared their experiences of remote and hybrid working, performance management and company culture during the pandemic.

Gemma Archibald said: “Changes to working practices have forced us to rethink our work/life balance in a much more holistic way than previously. The last year has blurred the lines between work and home; it’s humanised people more and that openness has carried on. To support our staff through remote working and maintain a ‘family feel’ company culture, we have really invested in health, safety and wellbeing and trained 25 wellbeing champions across the business.”

Cecilia Fritz said: “As a manufacturer, the majority of our employees continued to work on site so regular communications were very important to ensure that people felt safe. We carried out comprehensive risk assessments, split our site into zones in order to minimise physical interactions and introduced safety measures such as testing, face coverings and sanitiser stations very early on.

“Although most of the workforce remained on site, some roles were possible to carry out from home and we are hoping to continue with hybrid working where possible. It has prompted us to consider what else could be possible, what other preconceived notions we have about working practices and how we can be creative, not stagnant, moving forward.”