By Paula Coughlin, Chief People, Communications and Sustainability Officer
04 April 2022
There’s been a lot of debate about which of the changes brought about by the pandemic will endure. For us at Currys, one of the most powerful changes to emerge has been the arrival of hybrid working, which we believe is here to stay.
The pandemic showed the corporate world that we don’t all need to be sat together in one building to deliver great results for both our customers and our people. This has been especially true for Currys and the colleagues within our corporate and commercial functions.
Throughout the pandemic, we have been listening to colleagues’ views on the future of work and last June we introduced a hybrid working framework, providing guidance to help leaders and teams, delivered with a test and learn spirit. During this time, we continued to ask for feedback and to listen.
We learnt that our current office was not enabling the collaborative culture we would like to see. Our colleagues were looking for an attractive hub to collaborate, connect and be creative, an office set up that supports hybrid working and blended in person and digital meetings, in an attractive location. The business was also looking for a workplace strategy aligned with its standing as a leading omnichannel retailer – one that was flexible, creative and agile.
Ultimately, we want Currys to be a home for the best talent, so last week we announced to the 1,400 colleagues based at our Acton head office that we are introducing a refreshed hybrid working model for all corporate and commercial colleagues in the UK. For us hybrid simply means working in person, online and the blend of both. Put simply, it’s the colleague version of ‘omnichannel’ – a way to bring the best of both worlds together.
To reinforce this commitment to hybrid working, and within that the importance of face-to-face collaboration, we are introducing a new partnership with WeWork, equipping our Acton corporate and commercial teams with WeWork passes that will enable them to use any one of 50 WeWork locations. WeWork is a best-in-class provider of flexible office space and our policy will give access to inspiring workspaces whether for individual ‘heads down’ work, or for collaborative meetings.
These include a proposed move to what we are calling Currys London Campus at Waterloo in one of WeWork’s flagship buildings, which will give us one dedicated floor plus access to other shared spaces within the building when colleagues need it.
In a further step to ensure this new collaborative approach extends throughout the UK, we’re also refurbishing a number of spaces in stores around the country, giving colleagues more flexibility about where they work.
We’re treating our colleagues like adults, enabling them to choose how and where works best for them, while setting some clear guidelines to ensure everyone stays connected with the business and with each other. Also, we don’t want our talent pool to be limited to those who can only get to one location easily. Our people will also be sought after by other employers, and we think the flexibility we offer is going to be a key part of our offering and will set us apart from others.
Crucially, our new policy isn’t just about where our colleagues work – it’s about how they work. While hybrid working has functioned incredibly well during the pandemic, we’ve now come up with four guidelines to ensure we get the best out of both in person and remote working.
Firstly, Be Connected, which means ensuring every colleague has face to face interaction with their teams and manager each month. Second, Be Intentional, which means focusing on outcomes from collaborative working and making the most of the new collaborative workspaces. Third, Be Inclusive, which is about ensuring everyone feels included however they choose to work, and accepting everyone has different preferences. Finally, Be Flexible – embrace hybrid working while keeping an open mind about your own ways of working.
We must never forget that as a proud omnichannel retailer, this announcement won’t change anything for many of our colleagues. Our stores, supply chain and service operations are the engine room of our business, and ultimately the job of our corporate and commercial colleagues is to support those on the front line. We aim to be flexible with our sales and on-road colleagues work patterns too, and omnichannel innovations like our ShopLive service aim to bring their specialist expertise to the fore and make their work much more varied and rewarding.
Our business is nothing without the amazing colleagues who make Currys what it is, and we’re really excited about the potential of hybrid working. We’re not paying lip service to the idea, but by listening to our colleagues and building on the lessons of the pandemic. We’re creating a new industry-leading model of truly hybrid working, embracing what it genuinely means - not just where you work, but how you work. An approach that not only sees us leading the debate on the future of the workplace but one that also positions our business well for the future.