The o****e word is now banned at Yorkshire Housing. This reflects our mindset that work is something you do, not somewhere you go and that you don’t have to be in work to be in work.
Late last year I wrote about how adopting a new approach to work makes sense for both our colleagues and customers. Earlier this month we made an exciting announcement about the future of working at Yorkshire Housing. We’ve signed a ten-year lease for the second floor of ‘The Place’ – Yorkshire’s first zero carbon office building. This will see us move into our new 10,000sqft home at the beginning of next year. This follows the sale of our previous HQ, Dysons Chambers which was three times larger in floor space.
The move represents a big milestone for Yorkshire Housing. There’s been loads of talk about what the world of work will look like post COVID-19 and the past eighteen months have challenged us to look beyond the norm and has supercharged many of the plans we had in place to move to a more blended approach to how we work.
As a business we’d always intended to move to a flexible way of working that would enable us to deliver an improved service offer for our customers and the pandemic has showed us that radical change is possible.
I remember when we first started the discussion with colleagues about how they wanted to work and the nervous excitement that those discussions brought. There’s something really empowering about giving people the chance to shape how, where and when they work, directly linked to an enhanced customer service offer.
What emerged from the discussions was a blended approach based on a guiding principle of encouraging people to work closer to home, interchanging between the three options of hub, home and roam. So, what will this look like for Yorkshire Housing?
Hubs, such as ‘The Place’ will support a balanced approach to working between home, roam and other shared spaces. They’re important for teamworking and innovation and they’re spaces where colleagues can come together to share ideas, collaborate and socialise. We know that many colleagues have missed being able to meet face to face with each other whilst working remotely.
Home is where our colleagues who previously worked in an office 9-5 are now based. They can meet up with other colleagues or visit our hubs when and where it suits their work. This gives them the flexibility to fit their working day around their lives. Last year just 6% of our colleagues told us they’d choose to work Monday to Friday 9-5. Most said they’d rather have the freedom to start and finish earlier or later to suit their day.
Our approach gives them the freedom to do this. Not only is it more cost effective in terms of not having lots of empty office space, but it also offers the flexibility to shape a better work-life balance alongside a much improved customer experience.
The Roam (not Rome!!) element is for our colleagues who have customer facing roles. These mobile teams go from property to property. To enable them to work out in the field and stay connected, investment in technology is crucial.
Roam will allow us to meet the needs of our customers at a time that suits them, significantly improving the overall customer experience. Our agile workforce within our communities will revolutionise how we deliver services to our customers. Roaming colleagues will have the flexibility to drop into hubs to catch up with colleagues for team meetings or for a well-earned break, muddy boots and all!
So, our colleagues get more flexibility to fit work around their day, but what ‘s in it for our customers? We have over 20,000 customers who lead complex and busy lives, so we need to offer them a more flexible service too. New ways of working shouldn’t be determined by employee preference. They should be shaped and informed on how companies can deliver a great customer experience.
We know the days of people wanting a 9 to 5 service that have to travel to are long gone. Customers want instant access to information and services and they’re increasingly turning to self-serve options, especially for more transactional services.
By embracing technology and automation, along with a more flexible working approach we’re able to divert our resources to provide more intensive support to those customers who really need it.
The sale of our old office in Leeds and the move to leasing a new space will deliver savings which will be reinvested into both new and existing homes.
The benefits that our hub, home and roam approach will provide to our colleagues will be felt by our customers. Improved morale will increase motivation, productivity and service levels. In turn we expect to see customer satisfaction increase, absenteeism decrease and the whole organisational culture will change to one where colleagues are exhibiting the behaviours that truly reflect the Yorkshire Housing brand.
If that still isn’t enough of a business case then the move to hub, home and roam will accelerate an improved customer offer and experience, whilst also acting as a key factor in recruiting and retaining the highest-calibre staff.
Our new working approach is one of the key ingredients to the delivery of Yorkshire Housing’s long-term strategy, goals and vision. What’s not to like?
Find out more about our move to ‘The Place’ here.