That’s what it felt like, last March when The Prime Minister addressed the nation, advising the UK’s workforce to stay at home and I closed the door on our central London office. Cajoling the staff at a time of immense worry for everyone, ‘it’ll be over in a few weeks, don’t worry we’ll be back before you know it’. Who could have foreseen that actually, we would never return to that office? In the 60 seconds it took to lock the doors, the way Hasson Associates works, the way we interact, the way we communicate with each other, and our clients would be changed forever.
We’d landed in a foreign place. Gone were our traditional touchstones of office working – the commute, the Pret coffee, the white boards, our own designated desks, 10am meetings, face to face client catch ups. From the first day, like so many others, we had to adapt as we struggled to discover what technology was available, as the team found a small corner of their homes to set up a ‘home office’, through video we peered into each other’s lives, children joined us on our team calls, dogs barked across our meetings and a bare-chested husband sauntered past the camera. As a business owner I had to make some difficult decisions, furlough, and redundancy for some team members and a 4-day week with a pay cut for others. We were in unchartered waters and the whole team were playing their part in navigating the waters with incredible sacrifices. We all adjusted quickly, acclimatising to how we now worked, we developed new skills and in fact, to my surprise, thrived on our newfound flexible working.
Pre Covid, as MD I thought that Hasson Associates was a business that encouraged flexible working, that I was open to flexi suggestions from staff. Time off was given where needed, I knew that life sometimes got in the way of work, from hospital appointments to washing machine deliveries to nativity plays, sometimes people needed flexibility. No problem. The expectation, however, was that the team was largely present and in the office on pretty traditional 9-5 terms. This is how we maintained our success; this is just how business works. Or so I thought.
It’s June 2021. Through incredible teamwork Hasson Associates is thriving. We continue to build the business together as the country (hopefully) emerges from this pandemic and we not only survived but we built an entirely new way of working. The office has gone, the team have had 15 months to carve out what working from home and flexible working truly means for them. I don’t think one size fits all, for some businesses it’s not possible but for Hasson Associates this now means the team have a choice not only over their hours but how many days they work without compromising financially. We have decided, together, to become an entirely results driven business. Work smart without having to make any financial compromise, true flexibility for all not just for those who can afford it. Sure, we all have obligations during the week, meetings and catch ups that must be attended but otherwise its down to the individual team member to dictate how they work. The results speak for themselves – daytime tennis lessons, afternoon swims, school gate pickups and targets not only being met but exceeded. My team have been with me for many years, and I don’t think I’ve seen them so engaged and energised, so clear in our mission and what they need to do to achieve their goals.
It took a pandemic to show me, and the team, just what is possible when you take that mental leap and shift the business from a focus on office presenteeism to being truly results driven only. Only now do I think we’ve achieved a true work/life balance and its been both illuminating and liberating.