"I believe that the experience of enforced working from home and, importantly, the flexibility in our personal lives that this creates, has delivered increased enjoyment and effectiveness in our working roles."
It’s interesting how many iterations of the phrase ‘back to normal’ we’ve seen over the past few weeks. My current preferred term is ‘back to better’. As we move on from the initial survival phase of this pandemic, many of our people have rightly wondered what returning to normal actually means for our business.
For many of us, normal previously revolved around the office. It was the place that we spent the majority of our working hours. It was where we met and where we interacted with colleagues and friends. It was, to a great extent, the beating heart of the culture of our business - a culture that we worked hard to build.
Before this crisis, a number of colleagues clamoured for a move to more flexible working. Whilst we were looking into this prior to Covid-19, like many businesses, we were unsure as to the extent to which it would be the right move for Twenty7Tec. For us, this was never a question of trust or ability. After all, some of our development team are based in Canada and our field sales team already work remotely.
Rather, our reluctance to move further into more flexible working prior to Covid-19 was to do with the impact that such a move would inevitably have on the culture side of our business; in particular how we would continue to build teams, share knowledge and communicate effectively remotely.
Would, for example, our colleagues readily adopt the kind of technology needed to facilitate operating under this new style of working, both internally and with our customers.
Remote working on the scale we see now being introduced in tech businesses, such as Twitter and Shopify, requires an entirely different culture and way of working than what the majority of businesses perceived as the norm. Moving to remote working, or an entirely flexible setup, forces us to re-consider how we do some of the most basic things that come naturally in an office environment.
I increasingly see this change as a positive. I believe that the experience of enforced working from home and, importantly, the flexibility in our personal lives that this creates, has delivered increased enjoyment and effectiveness in our working roles.
We have found new ways to maintain our culture - video calls, quizzes, virtual 'pub' nights – whilst at the same time improving communication across the business. Remote working has also had a positive impact on the lives of our team - more time with family, less commuting, and greater flexibility in life.
This may not, of course, be the case for all in our industry or indeed our company. Nor may it necessarily be the case that every role is better when performed from home. Many of us enjoy the face to face interaction, the time to think, and work away from children and families, that being in the office gives us.
I do not believe that the office will no longer be a part of our working lives. There will always be a Twenty7Tec office. A home from home where our colleagues can, if they choose or, if they are required, spend a day or a week, or even just a few hours. As an employer, I believe that we should always offer that choice and flexibility.
However, it is time that we re-imagine what that home will look like. One of our values, is that we lead through innovation. If we believe that there is a better way of working, one that is better for both colleagues and business, then we should be moving towards that way of working, and not waiting to see what others do.
As we move to supporting more remote and increasingly flexible working conditions, we may make mistakes as we go. However, we remain committed to two fundamental principles - we want Twenty7Tec to be a great place to work, and we want it to be a hugely successful business in what it delivers to and for our customers. Whatever changes we make will be made with these two principles in mind.
I’ve been proud to lead Twenty7Tec over recent years. Our mission is to help make the mortgage market more efficient whilst creating a workplace with a culture that pleases clients, drives excellence and delivers mental wellbeing. I believe that going flexible may well be the springboard for our next set of innovations. Watch this space.