In March 2020 we left our office desks without knowing we would not return for over a year. It’s been an incredible year and as our focus shifts to navigating our way out of lockdown and our hopes for a post pandemic life, it’s hard not to be reflective. At Experian we have taken the opportunity to rethink how we work going forward.
We have had a lot of feedback from our people and we know they want to continue to have a degree of flexibility, but they’re equally keen to maintain the collaborative and innovative culture we have cultivated over the years.
The pandemic has accelerated innovation in ways of working and gives us an opportunity to reimagine where, when and how work gets done.
Whether it is our data scientists working on brilliant new concepts, our product designers taking part in hackathons across several countries at the same time, or our creative teams working on advertising concepts for a purple cow; we have learned over the past year that flexible working is no barrier to creativity and innovation.
When our offices re-open we will give people the opportunity to work in a way that works for everyone – this may be working remotely, in the office, or a mix of both, and flexibility over start and finish times. In some cases, we may ask people to be office based. Our aim is to strike the right balance between what works for an individual and what works for the business.
This balance can mean that we provide more flexibility to people during their workday. It is not just about remote working. It’s our commitment to make a difference in our people’s working lives.
We’re obsessed with finding new ways to use data to help transform lives and create a better tomorrow. Our powerful combination of smart minds, deep data, and sophisticated technology enable us to do things that others can’t.
And we also want our working culture to make a world of difference to our colleagues. Our culture is what connects us across the world.
The role of the office will serve an enhanced purpose and we plan to maximise collaborative spaces and ensure people have the space and create time to connect with their teams – even if it’s on a more ad hoc basis. This is important to us and we make no apology for occasionally insisting on team meetings in the office to make sure we preserve our special culture.
Looking back and learning from lockdown has been essential to form our new flexible working plan. It has been clear that colleagues have been experiencing the situation differently.
Many of our colleagues have really enjoyed the freedom of working from home, spending more time with their families in some cases, and working at a rhythm that suits them – allowing them to time manage their days to fit in things like more regular exercise, for example. And many have really valued the time they’ve got back from cutting down on all the travel in and out of the office.
For others, remote working has at times tested their mental wellbeing. Many of us live alone or have stressful home lives to manage which means that going into a dedicated place of work can be a blessing, maybe even a necessity, or simply a preference.
It’s also been a time when businesses have had to embrace the technology of connectivity more than ever before. This has actually brought more of our people together – albeit virtually. Video calls are now a well-established part of our lives. It has been great to get more facetime with colleagues around the world – technology can deliver that for us, but it’s taken a pandemic for us to really embrace it.
It’s not been a one-size fits all experience. What this crisis has reminded us, beyond everything else, is that we are all individuals living different lives. As an employer, if we can take one thing from this experience and build on it, it’s that our people will benefit from being offered different working arrangements to suit individual circumstances.
We want to give colleagues the option of creating a working environment which suits their situation. So that they can do the best job possible and deliver great results, yes, but also so that they can live fulfilled and balanced lives.
It has been a very challenging time, but we can deliver positive outcomes. We need to embrace this moment and build a future of work that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.