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What was once seen as an employee perk for the few, is now pretty much standard for the many. Companies have adopted working from home all across the globe, and not because of innovative adaptations to the way they deliver their services, but in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In fairness, many companies have been touting the idea of a truly agile workforce long before the virus hit our shores; some have successfully implemented it throughout their organisations, but seldom seen in numbers we are witnessing now. What I find most fascinating isn’t so much the numbers, but the manner in which people are adapting to their new ways of working. The sense of positivity. The sense of community. The sense of fun and humour. The pride, the passion, and the commitment.

No longer able to meet in traditional workspaces; the water cooler, the office and the meeting room, we’re now meeting virtually through laptop screens, via the kitchen table, the living room, and the garden, with a few family members and furry pets thrown in for morale support – often stealing the limelight and going viral on our social channels!

Working for a housing association where we serve so many people within our communities, Bromford certainly has its challenges to continue to deliver the services that we provide. But our colleagues and leaders have stepped up; optimistic and resolute, as always. They’ve learnt, they’ve adapted and they’ve certainly not disappointed.

We’ve received messages of support and gratitude from customers in recognition for the hard work and determination colleagues have shown, not only for those working from home but those who have put themselves on the frontline, putting their family and their own lives at risk, to ensure emergency and essential repairs and maintenance are carried out.

I caught up with Fiona Regan, chief people officer at Bromford, and Helena Moore, director of relationships at Bromford, to grab their thoughts.

Fiona, who joined Bromford just a few months ago, shared:

“The new way of working for me has brought a mixture of positives and some challenges like I am sure it has for everyone. On a personal note, the fact that I am sharing my workspace with one of my sons, who is studying for his A Levels, has been interesting! Especially as he wanted to explain some random mathematical theories to me midway through my day and maths was never my strong point.

“Not having to commute is good but also I do miss the thinking time and the feeling of transitioning from home to work that you get from physically ‘going’ to work. I am loving the fact that I am reducing my carbon emissions though and really want to do all I can to continue that.

“The most fascinating impact has been the fact that the lockdown happened after my first week in the business, so I have not actually met a lot of people in my team and the wider business. That said, I feel like I have been able to build some great virtual relationships and being in a crisis really allows you to pull together and feel like part of a team. I have witnessed so much hard work and commitment and real passion for the business from so many people as they try to do their best to balance life and work as much as they can. Overall it has been a great experience and it gave me an induction I could not have imagined but the resilience and energy from people has been fabulous and I look forward to whatever the working life looks like next.”

Lesson

Helena had this to say:

“Early on into the lockdown, alongside the more immediate and practical things to be dealt with, we started to give some focus to what we were learning about ourselves and how we were working. Mental health awareness has been given a real boost. We’ve always had a strong approach at Bromford to supporting people but we’ve shared more tips and hints and practiced and encouraged it more than ever.

“It’s been a great opportunity to strengthen how all colleagues connect with our overall purpose, rallying around what we need to do to serve customers and understanding the impact on them strips everything back to this fundamental relationship.

“It’s been a big lesson in not assuming those who thought (or we thought) they didn’t do change, actually did change more quickly than ever before. The most obvious example being decanted office spaces overnight.

“Leaders have been grasping and practicing new skills. We’ve talked about these for a while but by necessity these have been practiced and tested fully as leaders have made a fast switch to being connectors, multi-media communicators and remote managers. We’ve spent more time being social yet never less physically connected. We’ve met families and pets, we’ve shared hopes and fears and we’re all a bit closer as a result.

“Of course a crisis is not the usual context we all operate in and this has been, and remains, a very sad and difficult time, however there is an opportunity for us to do things differently and better like promoting wellbeing, the pace of change and how and where we work.”

A big thank you to Helena and Fiona for sharing their thoughts with me.

Nobody knows for sure how long we will be immersed in this new way of working. It’s a challenge to both our physical and mental wellbeing, and it’s a shift for both our personal and professional relationships. It was never going to be easy, but we must never underestimate the strength of the human and community spirit, together we will get through this, and we will emerge stronger. I’ll leave you with this quote that I found recently:

“Things may never go back to normal. You may need to create a new normal. And that’s okay.”

Fancy a career at Bromford? As we emerge from lockdown, you'll find more and more great roles on our jobs page here.

People person @Bromford. Using my passion for social and digital to promote, recruit and induct talented people. Fundraiser, music fan and follower of Wolves.

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