The pandemic has influenced and accelerated many changes in the world of work, but none more so than flexible working. For Sovini Group, its Bootle head office was the heart of the business, and prior to the Covid crisis, it was the hub of company culture where its 830-strong workforce would collaborate and socialise.
However, by March 2020, approximately 400 employees who were not required to be on the frontline were working from home, and the business faced a challenge to extend its unique culture beyond four walls to reach its newly dispersed workforce.
Its self-described “family feel” culture was not lost, but enhanced by the early formation of a business transformation group, which carried out reviews to ensure the culture could successfully transition to a fully agile operating environment.
The group introduced a bespoke support and best practice sharing page on employee app OurSpace, so managers could connect with their peers. It also conducted a monthly care survey and ramped up its one to ones, alongside running reviews of managers’ competencies to include an emphasis on engagement.
Over a six-month period, it held a number of briefings with staff to gather feedback on the future of work, and directors held coffee mornings to have informal discussions on working arrangements. Two surveys were issued to employees to gather their views, which revealed that most employees were enjoying the flexibility and work-life balance that agile working can bring.
Sovini Group sprung into action following the results and put communication at the top of its agenda for creating a flexible working initiative, which fully reflected its connected culture. A consultation period was launched with employees on the move to a fully agile working environment, which gave employees maximum flexibility with minimum constraints. But a formal consultation period was not necessary, as all employees agreed to the new agile way of work, agreeing that it was both right for them and the future of the business.
The judges said that they loved “every aspect of the submission” as it had the right mix of culture, trust and performance. They said that Sovini Group’s initiative made sure its “sense of community and family culture [was] maintained and even enhanced through the pandemic,” adding that it was “very authentic”.