A truly flexible model of hybrid working will help us prepare for the next phase of the pandemic

Ruth Cooke, 03 November 2021

There is little doubt that the pandemic has altered the shape of our working lives in a fundamental way. We’ve all been in and out of lockdowns, seen the emergence of vaccines and moved through ‘freedom day’ (despite significant case numbers and ongoing hospitalisations). At GreenSquareAccord we have seen colleagues on the frontline go above and beyond, ensuring our customers receive the services they need across both housing and care and support.

Moving beyond lockdowns has proved an interesting challenge for GreenSquareAccord – one where we have sought to apply the lessons learned during the restrictions. In shaping the future, we need to understand what we know.

We know, for example, that our colleagues have been amazingly flexible. Office-based teams transitioned with relative ease to homeworking even in sometimes challenging domestic circumstances. Our customers have been incredibly flexible too, recognising they can no longer ‘pop in’ to one of our offices, and also that their way of dealing with staff in their homes has had to change.

The answer to the post-lockdown challenge, for us, has been to develop a truly flexible model of hybrid working. For us, hybrid working is about ensuring our people, processes, technology, working spaces, even the times we carry out tasks and activity, come together to find the most flexible and effective way of working for colleagues, our customers and the business. In practice, for colleagues most used to working in offices, they will have opportunities to split their time between office and home, helping them make the best use of their working time and driving the productivity of the organisation.

Of course, we are only too aware that some colleagues would prefer to work in an office full time and we are determined to accommodate this by making our buildings as safe as possible. For me, this is critical. We must keep in mind that some colleagues are simply unable to work from home and it is essential, in my view, for their needs to be accommodated where possible.

As with other housing providers, many of our colleagues are based on the frontline. Given the diversity of roles, we recognise the last thing that will work for them is a one size fits all approach to hybrid working. We are having some really great discussions with these teams to determine an approach for the future which will work best for both them and our customers.

Our approach to hybrid working needs to balance two critical components. Firstly, we are building in the flexibility our colleagues need in case of further coronavirus-related restrictions. Our procedures ensure we are able to quickly flex working practices as required so any further lockdowns have minimal impact on service.

The second component, and the most important, is all about our customers.  Our new Voice of the Customer programme is shaped, in part, by our experiences and their experiences of the pandemic. We are taking this opportunity to place our customers and their needs at the heart of everything we do in a way which is not only innovative but which is also reflective of the challenging times in which we live.

The pandemic has been an unspeakably awful time. The headlines about illness and death have touched us all in unforgettable ways. Good things must and will come out of it. For GreenSquareAccord that means transforming the way we do things, the approach to working practices for our colleagues, and the way we deliver services to customers who have themselves sacrificed so much during the most challenging of times.