COVID 19: Team work makes the dream work
Before lockdown, our office culture was best described as sociable. Lunches and drinks after work together were a weekly occurrence, and even with two firms under one roof, we all felt part of one team. Our open plan office meant that this attitude extended up and down the ranks: the partners, dotted across the office, were always available (work permitting!) for a catch up, or a pint after work. Because of this, we always felt like we were kept in the loop, and there was an element of trust that if something important was going on, we would be told about it.
The concept of lockdown, then, felt like much of what made Beyond special could be in jeopardy, as everyone would be so isolated. The looming threat of the pandemic just before lockdown made some uncomfortable about commuting into the office. Beyond were quick to act, and the week before lockdown a number of us were set up with our office equipment at home. In order to make sure that those who were at home were kept in the loop, daily Teams calls were introduced with each team and Matt, our managing partner. Some of us would also call our desk buddies first thing to simulate the usual catch up we had while making the first brew round, while others would make daily “photocopier calls” – calling a colleague at random just to check in. These calls have become invaluable not only from a social perspective, but as a number of us are based in apartments, or are living alone, to check on people’s mental health.
On top of this, we also receive daily group emails from Matt each evening. These will have provided different things to different people during this time: for some, the work-related updates in the email will have put their minds at ease if they were concerned about how the firm was doing during lockdown. For others, the more personal aspects on the days where they were struggling with lockdown, would have provided some comfort that they weren’t struggling alone, and others still will have read them for their funny highlights of the various Teams calls that day.
I think that our experience in lockdown has shown more than anything that our relaxed, sociable environment isn’t because of the office, but the people in the firm. While it will be nice to get back to the office when the time comes, we don’t need it to feel like one team.