Gemma Skipper, Legal and HR Manager, CJC
Friday 24th July 2020
CJC, like many global companies, is trying to navigate multiple countries’ approaches to the lifting of lockdown and the 'return to normality'. With offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore, we are working tirelessly to ensure our employees are safe and healthy and our clients are receiving the top-level service they have come to expect in all regions.
Hong Kong and Singapore
After following very detailed guidance from both Hong Kong and Singapore governments, we were in a position to tentatively open both offices in May and June respectively and gave employees the flexibility to decide if they wanted to work in the office or continue at home. Unfortunately, with another outbreak in Hong Kong last week, the decision was made quickly to close the office once again. Luckily, we have an excellent BCP team for our Asia offices and we were able to make the change with very little impact on employees and no impact on our clients.
Our New York team was close to the epicenter of the early US outbreak and acted quickly to keep all employees safe. The office was closed during the second week of February allowing all team members to operate safely, as well as diligently, from their normal remote locations. Whilst our New York office remains closed until further notice, the team continues to support each other and help accommodate those teammates whose schedules and family obligations have been significantly disrupted.
Our headquarters in London has remained closed since 16th March. There has, of course, been challenges for all employees, not just those in London but our IT team has worked incredibly hard to ensure all employees have everything they need to ensure we can all fulfill our job roles. When the lockdown rules initially started to relax in June, we undertook a survey amongst our London Office to gather opinions on the current working environment and a potential return to the office. It turned out to be a highly engaged survey with 82% of staff responding, with a clear majority enjoying their current working environment.
8 was the average score out of 10 when employees were asked how happy they were working from home
The issues that staff had encountered mainly stemmed around internet speed and comfort (I know I'm not the only one working off a kitchen table sitting on a chair that was not designed to be sat on for 7 hours a day!)
70% of respondents missed the social aspect of being in the office, whilst a fair few mentioned they were not missing the temperamental air conditioning!
The major concern about a return to the office is the commute
When asked about working patterns when the office is reopened, 28% wanted to go into the office twice a week and 17% wanted a more flexible approach meaning they could go into the office on an as-needed basis
We asked staff to tell us one thing they loved about remote working and a large majority mentioned not having to commute, having more time to themselves, and spending more time with loved ones. It’s clear that everyone is enjoying the flexibility of the remote working lifestyle compared to our traditional 9-5 office lifestyle, which I'm sure is a familiar feeling amongst most city workers.
The UK Government announced last week that its advice regarding working from home would be changing from 1st August but given the clear results from our London employees, the decision was made by Senior Leadership to keep the office closed until September, at the earliest. At that time, we can take stock of the present situation and gather more thoughts and opinions from our employees.
If we were able to flash forward to the end of the year, then I’d hope that CJC would have safely opened our global offices but that we also continue to see more flexibility for employees regarding their working lives. I think CJC and other businesses would be foolish to ignore the huge positives that people have spoken of during lockdown (more time with loved ones, more time for yourself, not having to endure a grueling two-hour commute and so on), and allow their employees to continue with this new-found working life which will hopefully lead to happier, healthier and more productive employees, which is surely the ultimate goal of any conscious business!