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Happy New Year!

By Jo Spadaccino

Yes I know, weird title seeing as we’re at the start of August. But the thing is, it’s the start of ZPB’s new financial year (which we share with pretty much… no-one, but that’s not really important). And it’s also coming up to my first month in the company. And, like the whole world, as a team we’re reflecting back on the madness of the last few months and are intently focused on how we regain some element of control over our own destiny, both as individuals and as an organisation, despite the fact that there really is no clear end to the Covid-19 chapter just yet.

So actually, for all those reasons it seems like a great time to be channelling the same mindset that many of us do when it comes to the end of one calendar year and we move into another.

What’s on our resolution list right now? Well, we’re pretty clear. Top of the crop is how we embrace what positives have come from the topsy turvy world of the last few months. And that starts with how we work as a team.

There’s been so much fanfare about the benefits accrued from working remotely (albeit under enforcement, and in far from normal circumstances for many) but also much uncertainty about what the world of work will look like when things return to ‘normal’. Many companies are extending out their work from home policies, some to the end of the year, others even longer. But I’ve personally been surprised at how few have been clear about the outlook on a more permanent basis. Yes, there is an important need to pay attention to the safety requirements as we continue to live with the threat of an unpredictable virus, and there may be more short term measures that we need to apply as we move forward, but we all know that too much uncertainty can lead to a real anxiety, whether unconscious or not, and sometimes as a business leader you just need to provide a more stable outlook if you are to enable your team to fulfil their maximum potential. That’s why we have already outlined our roadmap for the future to our team.

ZPB was a pretty physical office-focused business prior to Covid-19, and we’ve thought long and hard about the pros and cons of this, and listened to every one of our team’s views (which as you can imagine is a melting pot of different needs and wants). Bottom line is that this is something we do not want to give up. Whilst there are absolutely benefits to more flexible working, and by that I mean mainly working from home more often, we have missed each other. We’ve missed the buzz, the spark and the ideas sharing that comes from spending time in each others company. And whilst zoom calls are fabulous in so many circumstances, they are not the panacea for all human interactions. So faced with the decision to go fully remote or something different, we’ve opted for the something different.

We’re going to retain our office space, and continue to reinforce it as an appealing part of working for ZPB, and we’re already starting to use it as a collaborative space, while strictly observing health & safety guidance of course. But we’re also going to retain that fluidity that has seen our team embrace the benefits of less commuting, and more quiet time for focused work (as well as having to accommodate some pretty challenging life circumstances too, which let’s face it, will always be there from time to time Covid or no Covid, though hopefully on a less universal level). It’s work in progress, and we’re going to be assessing how we go over the next few months, but we believe that creating a balance between having a base that we can all feel is our business ‘home’ (and a very nice one at that – roof terrace overlooking the Thames, etc) and having the freedom and trust to work from anywhere, anytime, as long as we are all able to stay true to our company values, is the best way forward. We believe that it’s possible to create a strong business culture, enjoy the time we have together as colleagues but also embrace the need for more independent working, and be able to manage the many pressures and joy of life outside work too. Sometimes the most important thing is to be clear on the direction, so that being on board is a positive choice. And that can only benefit our wonderful clients – who after all, are who we are here for.

So that’s our first new year’s resolution. Are you feeling in a reflective mood too, and what would you put top of your list?

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