Does ‘work from anywhere’ really work?

For GB Solutions when we emerged from the first wave of Covid in summer 2020 to the outside world we were operating business as usual, but internally we had transformed to a ‘work from anywhere’ model.

Two years down the line, we have seen increased productivity, reduced costs, and improved employee wellbeing. This brings up the question: Do people really need to be working in the office?

Many businesses are expecting employees back in the office on a full-time basis, with little to no flexible working options. The bottom line is, regardless of your view on ‘work from anywhere’, if you do not offer flexible or hybrid working, you won’t recruit or retain top talent.

In this blog, we will look at our pre-covid business model. How ‘work from anywhere’ provides employers and employees with numerous benefits, and what the rest of our team has to say. 

Life before ‘work from anywhere’:

Working hours

Before covid, we operated under very rigid working hours, from around 8am-6pm, with no more than 2 members of staff off at any one time. This worked well for hiring managers, as we operated during their working hours. But what’s right for one, isn’t necessarily right for another.  Because we operated during ‘business hours’, at times we’d be unable to reach job seekers. This could be an issue if some members of staff had to work outside of their usual ‘9 to 5’. Staff were rightfully reluctant to operate outside of the normal working day, which meant some potential candidates could be missed.

Commute time

Some of the team had a one-hour (each way) commute, costing them time and money, as well as unnecessary stress. Having to drive to and from work each day, made it difficult for some of our staff to enjoy a healthy work/life balance.

Running an office

Running an office comes with significant overheads and administration costs. We found the inflated rental charges were too much to justify. And so before the first lockdown, we decided not to renew our rental agreement. This was a big move for GB Solutions, as we had always operated from an office, expecting candidates to come in and meet us face to face and using a rigid server-based IT structure.

Life after ‘work from anywhere’:

Working hours

We now work more flexible hours, which helps us meet the needs of our customers spanning 7am to 7pm. Being able to manage our schedules to meet the demands of the business is a win-win. It ensures the business operates more effectively and helps create a healthy work/life balance. Meaning some of our members of staff can do the school run, take their dogs on long walks, or go to the gym during off-peak times. It works well for us, our clients, and our customers.

Remote working

Before lockdown we operated from the office 100% of the time, using a rigid server-based IT structure. Covid forced us to enter the 21st century, using cloud-based IT solutions to enable us to work from anywhere across the county.

Our colleagues sometimes work together in our dedicated space in Cheltenham, business hubs, cafes, and garden offices. We also ensure we have regular team meet-ups as we’re a sociable bunch.

Change in mindset

When we drilled down the habits of running an office, we found there were several operational restrictions and costs, and we quickly realised a lot of changes had to be made. Management had to let go, and foster a culture of trust and empowerment, with a clear focus on outputs.

Our focus now is about ‘what you do, not the precise hours you work’. This is the opposite of how we operated pre-covid, when we’d expect consultants in the office 9-5. In many ways Covid helped us adopt a more agile way of working which has benefited us all.

💡 A message from Mike, our MD:

“In many ways it was a leap of faith placing immense trust in the team and turning our back on our very sociable office setting. With a little effort required to maintain collaborative working and training I’m delighted with the way the team have responded. We are now seeing this translate into higher levels of productivity and eliminated 15% our costs.”

What the team has to say:

Sophia – Senior Recruitment Specialist – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“As a new mum I really worried about having to put the career I love on hold or choose between work and missing out on spending time with my young family. Luckily, I found Mike, who offered working from home as well as empathy, support, and understanding of other life commitments. Rather than wasting time on a commute, I have breakfast with my daughter, I put her to bed, and I have time to enjoy those little moments. I am very fortunate to work from home and have such a fulfilled work/life balance. I am so grateful for this way of work and having such a forward-thinking director.”

Tess – Business Marketing Executive – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I have always wanted a dog, but I was reluctant to get one when I worked in the office full-time. Once Mike confirmed we’d be working from home going forward, I got a dog right away! I’ve been able to take him on long walks, and even do some obedience training with a professional trainer. None of which I’d be able to do if we still worked in the office. I feel very lucky.”

Joe – Senior Recruitment Specialist – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Working from home has been the single biggest positive I can recall in my working life. Being a single father, it grants me the flexibility to start as early or finish as late as I need to. I’m not sure I could ever go back to how things were before. I have more time with no commute not to mention the saving on petrol and the environment!”

Working from home has also allowed our members of staff to care for family. Prioritise their mental and physical health, and do things that matter to them. By offering a more flexible way of working we have not only retained our key performers but also attracted top talent.

💡 Gemma Irvine, HR Lead at HR People Support commented:

‘It is great to see how GB Solutions have embraced flexibility and continue to offer hybrid working post COVID. Some companies are yet to appreciate the benefits of hybrid working, and how it can have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.  Employee welfare and happiness is clearly at the top of Mike’s agenda.

The comments from the team fully support their new working rhythms. And you can clearly see the positive impacts on the mental health of team members, in addition to the culture of the business as a whole.  Regular team meetings are supporting the employee engagement agenda which is always key to the success of flexibility and high productivity from a team.

To fully embrace the continuation of hybrid working, and to maintain it’s success we would recommend companies ensure they have robust policies in place to avoid any conflicts in the future. And always keep a ‘hub’ base for employees to meet face to face. Whilst ensuring connectivity and communication so they feel supported and valued wherever they are.