Insights

Working at Liberty: Our Hybrid Future of Work

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Molly Dyer

Director of People and Culture

What is the future of work? It’s a question that’s on everyone’s lips at the moment. With remote working emerging as a new and exciting opportunity for many industries, we are seeing a global shift as businesses trial different ways of working.

However, is working from home the future, or is a more flexible working model better for both businesses and their employees?

Here at Liberty, we’ve made significant changes to how and where we work over the last two years. We’ve gathered the data, implemented new ways of working, and we’re now seeing the effects. Find out more about our new hybrid working model and how it’s going so far, below.

Changing How We Work: Why, and Why Now?

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The pandemic has presented challenges to the traditional working model, and it has also proved the perfect time to implement change. Rapid adjustments were made in succession as regulations changed and now, we can  future-proof our businesses by learning from how we responded to these changes.

At Liberty, we were due to start trialling remote working on Fridays just when the pandemic began. Now, after an extended period of working exclusively from home, we are using our learnings to inform a new working model.

The future of work looks different between industries. For some, the largest changes may be keeping workers more socially distanced while they carry out essential tasks. For other industries, changes can be more expansive – meaning greater flexibility, virtual meetings and calls, working from home and more.

Ultimately, any changes you make need to be guided by your company’s core values, the nature of your business and the needs of staff.

Our Values and Ways of Working

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Collaboration and connection are key to how we work at Liberty. By maintaining close relationships between our staff, we have a culture of knowledge sharing that benefits the business, as well as our teams.

Throughout the pandemic, these core principles were really challenged as staff quickly had to adapt to fully remote working. This period marked a key moment for change, as we realised new ways of working were needed to support our existing values and drive our growth as a business while regular day-to-day activities like in-person calls and meetings were suspended.

When considering our eventual return to ‘normal’, we recognised any transition away from full-time working from home would have to be gradual, informed, and strategic. So, we took the time to plan and talk to staff while mapping out the road ahead.

Planning and Implementation: How We Did It

As an agency that has always prided itself on being transparent and fair, we knew we would need an extended period of consultation to get a feel for how our teams wanted to move forward, what their worries and hopes were. So, before we made a plan for how we’d work post-lockdown, we made sure we had a clear view of the current situation by:

  • Holding round-table discussions.
  • Giving staff the option to chat 1-on-1.
  • Having regular business update meetings.

Throughout this process of information-gathering, questions and concerns could be asked anonymously. This meant we gained a much clearer view of the whole picture and could understand how working styles – and individual needs – differed.

Each proposal we put forward was fed back on by staff, and each decision was made in-line with the latest government guidance. It took time and effort, but we gradually formed a plan we knew would work for our staff and the business, too.

What We Changed

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According to research from The Office for National Statistics, only 24% of businesses who remained operational throughout the pandemic intend to increase home working going forward, while 85% of employees have stated they want a “hybrid” approach, with both home and office working throughout the week.

When it came to our new hybrid working model, the question of whether remote working would continue only made up one part of the larger picture. As well as giving staff greater flexibility between home and the office, we looked at how to ease anxieties about being around other people in close proximity, being sociable again, and managing productivity.

The key changes we made were:

  • Introducing a 3-2 day split for office and home working.
  • Giving all staff access to Perkbox, with its varied range of lifestyle perks.
  • Using Friday Pulse to keep track of wellbeing and happiness.
  • Using Able Futures to provide mental health support.
  • Offering staff mental health training.
  • Adding in daily team ‘huddle’ chats to keep staff informed and connected.
  • Allowing more flexible working for people with dependents.
  • Introducing a dog-friendly office policy.

The aim was to cover all the bases – recognising staff needed new support systems as lifestyles and vulnerabilities had changed. We adapted our ways of working with these specific needs in mind.

The idea of making such large-scale changes was a little daunting, and the key challenges were practical: the process of changing the office layout, allowing for social distancing and implementing new health and hygiene procedures. Therefore, we took a staged approach, and this also allowed more time for staff to adjust as changes were gradually put in place.

What’s Working, and Why?

A key metric we’ve used to track the success of the changes is staff happiness, which we monitor using Friday Pulse. Through weekly updates and anonymous questionnaires we’ve consistently gathered feedback on our new ways of working.

Amanda Bunn, Managing Director here at Liberty, said:

“The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. There was a little hesitancy about returning to the office for some, and we anticipated we might have a longer period of trial and error, but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, we’re hearing across the board that communication has improved, exciting things are happening, and we’re all feeling a bit happier just to be in each other’s company.

“How many businesses in a year’s time will feel they’ve lost connection and collaboration in their company? It’s easy to underestimate the value of just sharing a room with your colleagues. In reality, having that time – even just for a couple of days a week – opens the door for more innovation and ideas.”

We’ve found there are undeniable benefits to both home and office working. While home working has increased productivity and focus for many of our Libertines, returning to the office has come with a unique set of benefits too, including:

  • Better cross-team collaboration.
  • Improved wellbeing.
  • Conversations replacing calls, meaning less time wasted.

Supporting our staff’s needs has been a top priority, which is a key reason the Liberty office has transitioned to being dog-friendly, and why flexible working has become more of a focus.

“Pre-pandemic, balancing childcare and work was a bit of a struggle and that was sadly the norm. These days, I rearrange my work day around nursery and school. Personally, it means a lot less stress and when I’m in work, I can fully focus on what needs to be done. Flexible working makes sense for us at Liberty, but it’s something that should be wider spread, definitely.”

Phil Woodward, Digital Content Manager

Measuring the Success of Changes Going Forward

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So, how can you know if a hybrid working model is appropriate for your business? We believe in the power of data, and that’s how we’ll be tracking the success of our changes as time goes on. We’ll be looking at:

  • Wellbeing
  • Productivity
  • Efficiency
  • Performance

The new flexibility we’ve built into our working model extends to being flexible about how we work, going forward. For Liberty, this means having the agility to make adjustments for staff and ensure we’re the best we possibly can be.

Work With Us

You’ve heard about our values and our new hybrid working model, so why not join us? We’re always on the lookout for passionate digital marketers to join our team.

Find out more about what working with us is like and browse our current vacancies.

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By

Molly Dyer

Director of People and Culture

Molly has been a Human Resources Manager in both web development and charity sectors. She loves the interpersonal relationships, the ability to influence and drive real change and supporting her colleagues to develop themselves.  Molly is responsible for planning and implementing our people and culture strategy across the business as well as covering the full…

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