By Kate Kennedy, Warmworks’ HR and Engagement Director
We always aim to offer a positive working environment in Warmworks, and an important part of that is our approach to flexible working. We recognise that each of us, from time to time, might have a reason why we want to reduce or adapt our working hours, or pattern of working, to accommodate life changes or personal circumstances.
Even before the events of the last few months unfolded, a number of colleagues had already changed their working patterns on a permanent basis to support family commitments, whether as mums and dads, partners or carers. We have people who have regular commitments as volunteers, and we’ve also been able to help with shorter term pressures on personal time, such as flexing hours to arrange driving lessons or to attend health and wellbeing appointments without having to take extra time off.
I believe that the flexibility we offer in this way is returned in the flexibility our people offer to our customers and their colleagues. We have regular examples of individuals going above and beyond to support the team, and our business, when the need arises.
As a result of the global pandemic that affected every employer in the UK from March this year, we had to mobilise all of our office-based staff to work from home, almost overnight. This fundamental change was managed smoothly with very little impact on our customers. The transition hasn’t been without its challenges, but we’ve been fortunate to have an innovative IT team who were able to support our increased reliance on technology. We also have valuable experience and knowledge around remote working, since almost half of our workforce is field-based. Managers and their teams have worked together to ensure everyone is supported as much as possible to adapt to a very different way of working. Our managers know that one size doesn’t fit all and investing time in getting to know people as individuals has helped to find the right balance between individual and business needs.
I was recently asked what my key learning point has been from this challenging period, and I can honestly say that it is just how capable our business is, to manage change of an extraordinary magnitude in such an agile way. I am very proud to work with such a flexible team!
There is a great deal of discussion and debate about whether this period will result in permanent change to how we live and work in future. Eyes have certainly been opened to some of the unexpected benefits of working at home. There has also been a greater realisation of how much we value the casual interaction that we experience when working together in a shared space. We’ve also learned that these points are not mutually exclusive!
It’s realistic to assume that when the dust settles, we will receive a few more requests for changes to working hours and patterns of working. We will welcome those, and also look forward to the time when our teams can get together again face to face, to collaborate and socialise as we did before 2020 showed us just how adaptable we are; as individuals, teams, and as a business.
Offering flexible working is just one of a number of ways in which we support our aim to be an employer of choice and a leader within our industry. Our people, our values and our way of doing business are at the forefront of our minds when challenging times arise and decisions need to be made. We make that investment and our customers should see the rewards.