For many, one of the most notable changes brought about by the pandemic has been where we work. However, is the current shift to remote working going to become a more common feature of a new era of work? And if so, how do we feel about this ‘new normal’?
For us at Field Sales Solutions, we have always prided ourselves on our ‘one team’ ethos and thrive on working collaboratively with each other and our valued brand partners. However, when the pandemic hit we entered into unprecedented times, and it soon became apparent that it had never been more important to quickly move away from traditional thinking that productivity is reliant on a workforce who reside for set hours in an office environment and focus on how we could set off on a journey of embracing working remotely – yet still collaboratively.
Like many organisations we promote flexible working and have long since allowed employees to work from home, but never before with everyone at once or in such unsettling circumstances. The office for many provides a place to focus and connect with colleagues and we are fortunate to have a really friendly and relaxed workplace in which we all benefit and enjoy the culture and chemistry. Only last year we moved to a newly furbished office with an open plan layout and fresh modern design; the office was a place of collaboration, fun and camaraderie.
So, how could we re-create this remotely?
Firstly, we armed the team with the right tools to talk and soon embraced the ‘virtual face to face’ meetings that could be facilitated by today's modern technology. As furloughing our teams became a necessity, we began creating regular updates, sharing company Newsletters with updates, pictures and quizzes to help people pass the time. Our team in turn shared back what they had been up too and we kept in touch by reading each other’s stories of newfound hobbies and inspiring voluntary projects. Then came social events to keep the culture alive; we hosted the Quarantine Quiz, held teamwork outs to get us up and moving and we worked together to get behind an awesome fundraising initiative in support of one of our colleagues, whose son walked 26.2 miles and raised over £2,800 for the NHS. The days passed and things changed and at times it was hard to see the positives of our efforts, however being apart had also served to remind us of what we loved about being together.
We ran a survey across all our Head Office team to find out what they missed most about being apart, and the findings were heartwarming:
- 100% said they looked forward to seeing their work colleagues again
- 89% said they missed seeing colleagues/friends and being together face to face
- 69% said they missed the office banter
- 53% said they missed bouncing ideas off each other
- 38% said they felt restless as a result of being at home
The team also fed back commentary including; “I miss seeing all the amazing people I work with” another colleague wrote “I miss the personal face to face contact and interaction with colleagues. Teams/Email are good communication tools, but they can't replace face to face contact.” And of course others missed the luxuries of modern day office life saying; “I miss the sandwich van and its delicious sausage rolls! Oh and my team of course! 😉”
It became clear that despite being apart and adapting to find ways to remain ‘one team’ people simply missed being together. We are a business made up of people who thrive on bringing people and brands together in partnership; we spend our days discussing ideas and strategies or sharing insight on campaigns that we deliver for our clients. From impromptu chats in the kitchen to formal meetings behind closed doors we now recognise human connections can be sustained over technology but not fully replaced by it.
So, we have made the decision to open our doors but to still embrace working from home. The new normal for us is about making sure every employee has access to a safe workplace, a place to collaborate and reconnect, whilst recognising collaboration and productivity can be achieved remotely if needed.
We have robust processes for managing our own remote field workforce, who cover the whole of the UK, driving sales through effective in store implementation, distribution and display which in turn drives measurable sales for our client’s brands, and managing a remote workforce of over c700 personnel means we have grown used to keeping connected through consistent and regular communication. Applying this same mindset to our head office has seen us find new ways to collaborate and most significantly has allowed us to successfully welcome back many of our field and head office teams seamlessly.
We now look towards the new normal with confidence and by being innovative, while observing and implementing the required health and safety, we are well placed to resume business, not just like it was before, but even better than before.
We remain a collaborative business, yet now we truly value what that means and how important that is within our business. The new normal for us, is no longer defined by where we work, but in how immensely proud we are to work with each other as ‘one team’.
Check out this short video to hear our team talking about what makes them PROUD to work for Field Sales Solutions: