Like all business we quickly moved from the office to fully remote home working at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as we deliver secure remote working to our clients it was very easy for us to practise what we deliver and shutting down the office was a very simple exercise, in fact one we had practised in January as part of our business continuity ISO re-certifications.
What was, and still is critical to home working is our communication plan – how and when we communicated was critical and the tools/services we used had to work for us. Having more than one option available was critical and having a policy in place which detailed how we would use these tools/services was key to our success.
In those early days it was clear that as a team we are could cope and continue to deliver as if nothing had changed but we had to maintain communications and we increased from our daily stand ups to twice a day check-in via video. Our morning stand–up covered the same format but our afternoon check in was much more informal and focused on how you are as an individual. The ability for more one to one call’s was also available to all member of the team to discuss issues.
What was a surprise was the little things that you take for granted in the office – Desks, Chairs, WiFi, Monitors, chatting to colleagues. We quickly allowed the team to take whatever they needed from the office for the ability to work from home, “I have a beanbag in my room” was not going to cut it.
Once we had settled into the home working routine it became apparent that work life was going to change for ever and as an SME, we have the ability to act in an agile way, so we looked at what the next way of working was going to be for Nine23.
We didn’t focus on the office as such, more we considered what had worked during the initial first phase of the covid19 crisis with home working and what we would keep and what we wanted to change going forward. We all missed certain elements of the office and we all enjoyed certain elements of working from home. Commuting was a major element that no one missed but the social interaction with our teammates was defiantly the number one element we all missed.
What has shinned through as a company is that we as a team can operate remotely and securely without an office. We have acted swiftly to downsize our office as a result of how we will work in the future and we are moving from an office to a space, a space where we can collaborate with each other – be it projects, sales bid’s, strategy sessions etc. You will not be expected to go to the office for work anymore, you can work from home. What we will do is provide a space for collaboration work when needed and also to provide a space for those who cannot work from home.
Fast forward 5 months and we are about to downsize from an office where we all used to work to a new “Space” where we will use it very differently to the old office. A statement from a colleague in the Trust X Alliance has stuck – “A business needs a home” and our new “space” will be our new home.
Some lessons we have learnt and our continuing to learn:
- No one size all fits
- Some people need an office
- Culture and values are more important than ever when working remotely
Next for Nine23:
Can you work at times to suit you? When to collaborate? How to collaborate?