Efficiency now & future growth: hybrid working's productivity potential - Quorum Park

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking into how Quorum occupiers are navigating the world of work post-Covid, and in particular how they’re implementing hybrid working.

We spoke to Employee Engagement Manager at EQUANS, Lynne Bowry-Thompson, who found that creating a system that would work for all 200+ of its Quorum Park-based team members was easier said than done.

Lynne explained: “Our team is made up of people aged between 17 and 74, which is a huge demographic, and although before Covid-19 hit we were already working towards giving everyone a laptop to enable more remote working, many were unconvinced of its merits.

“For most of the team, being office based was what they knew, and what they were comfortable with, so some were dubious. We were aware that a mindset shift was needed, but Covid and its associated lockdowns accelerated that.”

Part of multi-national utility provider ENGIE, EQUANS, which provides technical service solutions to businesses in the UK and Ireland, is based at Q3 on the park, and already had 24/7 access to give team members flexibility over their working day.

Lynne continued: “We found it was younger team members that initially struggled with home working. Many had nowhere suitable to be used as a home office and felt the structure and support of an office environment helped them prioritise their workload.

“That said, everyone embraced the need for home working throughout the lockdowns and came to appreciate that there are benefits in terms of cost-savings on travel, greater flexibility in some respects, and eliminating the commute.”

For some EQUANS workers however, the novelty of home working quickly wore off and many still exceed the new requirement averaging 2 days per week in the building. Lynne said: “A lot of our staff simply prefer office working, and the accessibility of the park has been a big plus throughout the pandemic as there are lots of ways to get to the site with minimal contact with other people. Public transport options are available throughout the day, and this means team members who want to come in don’t feel as nervous about the risk of transmission because they don’t always need to travel at peak times.”

Like many businesses, EQUANS found it was necessary to reconfigure its office space to create the ideal working environment, and all staff had the opportunity to help shape the design. Lynne continued: “We’ve downsized our floorspace by a third, and now use two floors of the building we’re based in, rather than three. We also reduced the number of desks by 50 per cent to create more areas for collaborative working, and while we used to have certain zones restricted to certain teams, now everything is lighter and more open plan, and staff use the office more freely.

“Each service line has its own area based on its size, and team members can book desk space in advance, but neighbouring zones can be used when service areas have their full team in the building.”

In addition to the physical differences in the office, communication between team members has changed, with Microsoft Teams used extensively for both work and play. Lynne said: “We have a monthly team talk, virtual drop-in sessions, a fortnightly newsletter, and online quizzes and murder mystery events, but it is culturally quite different and some people do miss the historically social side of office life, we survey everyone once a quarter to find out what they think about the way we work, especially given the potential implications upon aspects of people’s health.

“Put simply, we’ll continue with hybrid working for as long it is working for us and for our team, and we’ll continue to embrace technology and tools such as video conferencing to aid with efficiency, but sometimes we still find getting people in the same room can be helpful and productive.”

Looking to the future, EQUANS, whose Quorum Park base hosts support functions including accounting, payroll and employee services, as well as call centre support for external contracts, is confident its successful hybrid working model will provide capacity for growth, as well as helping it transition towards operating at zero carbon. And it is proving a demonstrative model for other UK offices across its business as they embrace hybrid working too.

Lynne added: “While it’s not necessary for team members to be in the office each week, most tend to be for at least a couple of days, making the most of having colleagues nearby to collaborate where needed, and using home working for when they need fewer distractions and more quiet time. It really can be the best of both worlds.”

To find out more about the expertise and services EQUANS can offer to support customers with their energy, digital and industrial transformations, visit equans.co.uk