Covid-19 propelled us all into the future of work, whether we were ready for it or not. Working from home became a reality for many of us, happening almost overnight.  

    At Nucleus we mobilised our people for what we thought would be a two or possibly even three-week lockdown in the spring of 2020, only to realise this was much bigger than this, and something that could create a seismic shift in how we work going forward.  

    As the first lockdown eased it provided us with an ideal catalyst for a cultural shift that would see us enhance our ways of working, provide flexibility for the team, and in turn, help us to drive stronger commercial outcomes. 

    We’ve always valued choice and flexibility 

    Our flexible working policy says that ‘We understand the importance of work life balance and are keen to support you as much as we can in achieving this’ so providing increased flexible options for everyone seemed like the logical first step. 

    Taking our user design-centred approach, we worked with our teams to understand what had worked well for them, as well as what hadn’t during the lockdown period. We used these findings to draft a set of enhanced flexibility principles that we could use beyond Covid.  

    Research told us that time and place were the key things people were looking for flexibility on. Our approach is: work anywhere. Shift from showing up physically to showing up emotionally, and engage fully from wherever you are. 

    Our flexibility principles include: 

    • Adult to adult – anyone can propose a change to their place and time of work, but must consider the context of their role and impact on others 
    • Trust is the default 
    • Agree these with people leader before implementing 
    • Be planned and considerate of others 
    • Implement effective working procedures  
    • Stay client-centric and remember why we are here 
    • Flexibility – it’s a 2-way deal 
    • Use your best judgement 
    • Delivery and productivity matter 
    • Enjoy the freedom to co-create your workspace 
    • We are intentional in our involvement and collaboration 

    A hybrid approach to working  

    We’ve worked with all of us in the office, and we’ve worked with all of us at home, but as we start to see restrictions ease, we’re giving our people the choice. Most people like the idea of a combination of office and home working, but how will this work in reality? 

    Distributed working will look and feel differently for each of us, but here are three key principles that we’re working to when it comes to designing what works with our teams: 

    • We want people to own the way they work – people will have their own preference about what energises them and how they can be most productive 
    • We focus on great outcomes – we balance the needs of customers, stakeholders, people, as well as ourselves to achieve the results we agree upon. 
    • We know the value of building and maintaining our human connections – so we will still have lots of opportunities to get together 

    Types of work and tasks 

    Future workplaces will become a space for people to meet, collaborate, be creative and socialise. We’ve encouraged people to think about the type of work they’re doing and where they and their team might be best doing this, either in the office or at home: 

    • Meeting, collaborating and sharing knowledge with the team and others 
    • Attending 1-on-1s and development conversations with their people leader 
    • Carrying out quiet, focused and productive work  
    • Having meetings that contain confidential or sensitive information 

    How can you help your team design your future way of working? 

    We suggest running a retrospective and design session with your team. This allows everyone to input and co-create their future way of working together. Here are some things to consider and discuss with your teams: 

    • Understand what has worked well remotely 
    • Discuss with the team what they might have missed while working remotely that they’d like to see more of 
    • Agree as a group how you will handle: team meetings; information sharing; 1-1s; onboarding new members of the team 
    • Discuss and agree how the team will support the work that is 100% office based. Consider flexibility, rotation of tasks so everyone takes their turn, cross training requirements. 
    • Discuss and agree how you will celebrate success as a team 
    • Agree how you will nurture and grow your team culture 
    • Agree how as a team you will make those human connections, and the best ways and times to do this 
    • Discuss any times when people working remotely might be excluded from conversations, what can you do to prevent this from happening? 
    • Consider the purpose of virtual meetings, are they all ‘task oriented’? Is there room for more social interaction?  

    Although this began as a temporary, reactive shift, our change in work culture has developed into something people generally feel is more flexible, collaborative, and co-created. And it’s here to stay. 

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