Will Hybrid working be the future of Tambo?
The way we live, work and interact has been changed forever by the pandemic.
52% of our workforce at Tambo, including myself, joined virtually during a time where our movements were restricted and the world had totally changed. This meant that we were able to diversify our recruitment pool, bringing on over 9 new colleagues based outside of London to bolster our fast growing team.
In April 2021 the leadership team made a decision that all London based employees are to come in at least once a week. As we continue to operate in the new world of work, we ask ourselves, will Hybrid working be the future at Tambo?
Coming up to one year in my role as people and operations manager at Tambo, I have been reflecting on my 7 main learnings about hybrid work so far:
The team’s preferences differ - When last surveyed 50% of our employees planned to come once only, the other 50% cited they wished to come in 2+ days. What works for one team member does not work for another, whether that’s down to personal circumstances, personality, or work style, we need to remember that everyone is different, and we want to be a company where different preferences are ok.
The purpose of our office has changed - The majority of the team come into the office for connection with team members and cite that they feel more productive when at home. Ultimately, we want the office space to be seen as a central hub that employees can come to from all over the UK, to interact with their team members both functionally and socially. With careful consideration of feedback we have started to create a working environment where people feel comfortable spending their time, and will continue to improve this as we grow and learn. Consequently, people now choose to come into the office more regularly, opting to come in more than once a week to spend quality time with one another.
Flexibility is valued above all else - When surveyed, our team expressed that flexibility is the thing they love the most about working at Tambo. For me recently, flexibility has meant 1) The flexibility to adapt my hours - a friend and I worked down in Cornwall for a week, starting early so we could maximise time at the beach! But more generally I am a morning person, and Tambo allows me to focus on work during my most productive hours 2) The flexibility to choose my office days to balance whatever else I have going on that week 3) The ability to explore the world (in my case Bali) whilst working through our “work from anywhere” scheme. For others, flexibility means being able to look after their families and loved ones without having to go part time. It's also simple things like being able to take a long lunch break when the weather is brilliant to get out and enjoy it, or work more into an evening if you found concentration was proving difficult in the morning!
Hybrid work has different emotional consequences - For some of the team, myself included, access to an office space after a long period of working in isolation has re-energised us and given us the social connection with colleagues that we were really missing. Both myself, friends and colleagues have all felt at times really lonely and isolated as a result of our new working style. In the same vein, some employees based out of London have admitted to feeling separated from those employees who are able to interact more frequently. Our recent new joiners, including graduates, are really enjoying coming into the office to learn and chat with their colleagues. For others, coming into the office is not their ideal, they are happiest when at home for whatever reason. These people may feel daunted by coming in and feel their productive home working setup is being disrupted. Whether we want to admit it or not, for a lot of us the pandemic caused further introversion, being forced out of that and back into a busy workplace can feel intense. We need to consider the mental impact that the current working format has on people, and build a forum where it’s ok to discuss emotions. No doubt it is harder to spot how people are really feeling when the communication is virtual, so we are looking into training for team leads to equip them with the skills needed to find out when employees are struggling and support them.
We can access talented and diverse talent by looking outside of London - Our period of totally remote work during the pandemic opened our eyes to a much wider pool of talent, we hired people from Devon, Scotland, Manchester, Birmingham and more! This is amazing for so many reasons, we have visited new places, got new perspectives and inherited a wealth of new experience. With this comes challenges, we need to ensure these employees feel just as part of the team as those physically coming in weekly.
Working totally remotely allows an enormous amount of freedom in terms of location, but it comes with challenges - During the pandemic we hired a virtual team based out of Pakistan, we implemented our ‘work from anywhere’ scheme where the team are able to spend 5 weeks a year anywhere in the world, and built a network of freelancers based all over the world. The benefits of remote are massive in terms of resourcing, employee retention and flexibility. With this being said, I don’t think we'll ever be totally remote. Those learning experiences that can only be passed when sitting next to someone, or idea sharing off the back of something you overhear in the office, are almost impossible to replicate virtually. Physical connection and collaboration are a huge part of the culture at Tambo, and our challenge is to help new joiners who have only really experienced virtual offices to date, see the importance and value of those experiences. If they do, the results will be win win. They will learn more, and we will benefit from the collaboration and idea sharing that we have seen flourish in the office environment.
Our client’s are on this journey with us - We had all felt the collective strain of being cooped up and working totally from our homes during covid, so being able to interact again in person was really exciting and reminded us all of the value of building and strengthening those relationships across a dinner table or boardroom. That being said, our virtual meetings allow significant time and cost savings, and are much more agile than those in person. There’s a place for both, and our clients feel that too.
So in answer to the question, in my view the future at Tambo is predominantly hybrid, without ruling out the possibility that a small section of the workforce will be remote. We all see the benefits of coming in and spending time with our colleagues. An ever growing proportion of the team are coming in more than one a week, and we are beginning to feel a little cosy in our office that once felt more than big enough. That being said, the team has the option to be at home on the days where they feel they need to knuckle down or take lots of external meetings. People need choice.
The team values autonomy & flexibility above all. We know that if we remove choice and flexibility we will leave ourselves open to employees seeking this from another employer. We will continue to offer a working environment and benefits package which delivers on these two promises wherever possible.
Abby Salmon, People and Operations Manager
We all see the benefits of coming in and spending time with our colleagues. An ever growing proportion of the team are coming in more than one a week, and we are beginning to feel a little cosy in our office that once felt more than big enough. That being said, the team has the option to be at home on the days where they feel they need to knuckle down or take lots of external meetings. People need choice.