The Bbi group sees working from home as an environmental win.
The Bbi Group, based in Brecon and Gloucester, has spacious offices that also double as showrooms, but when the government advised that everyone should work from home if they could during the pandemic, the Mid-Wales headquartered company complied.
Bbi provides a fit-out service across the UK for organisations needing new and upgraded workspaces, and manages a portfolio of clients in healthcare, manufacturing, education and leisure.
While the project management team always work away from the office on the sites of their customers, many of the remainder of the 45-strong workforce, with the exception of the sales team, were always based in the office.
Judith Davies, finance director at Bbi, said:
“The immediate challenge we had at the start of lockdown was on a technical level, needing to address the task of getting everyone set up at home very quickly. Some of our staff had never logged onto the company’s systems remotely prior to the pandemic, and so that was a steep learning curve. In terms of hardware, we utilised some existing IT equipment by relocating it to people’s homes instead of the office.
Once Bbi’s IT was in order, the next issue for the company was making sure that its remote working policy was fair to all employees.
“Our offices are also our showrooms and, because of the size of them, we can easily manage to socially distance. This meant that the offices remained open throughout the pandemic staffed by a small number of our team, while others were set up to work from home. Our project sites have also remained operational throughout, with robust risk assessments and method statements in place to ensure COVID-safe work practices.
"The balance was to ensure everyone continued to work safely, while being fair to all staff, as there are advantages and disadvantages to working at home and in the office.
Judith and her co-directors have been focused on fairness and consistency, as their workforce had responded so positively to the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“Everyone wants the business to continue to grow and are passionate about ensuring it thrives, despite the exceptional circumstances. We really appreciate the commitment of every member of staff and always want to support them.
“Our team adapted quickly, and I think that our use of time has improved as a result. Meetings are more focused and have more purpose. Even our board meetings are much swifter.
While the exact details of how agile working will pan out for the Bbi team moving forward is still in discussion stages, Judith is confident that it will have a positive impact not only on the team, and therefore the business, but also on the environment.
“We have always been mindful of our carbon footprint and had already invested in measures to reduce this across our business by upping our recycling efforts and installing an electric car charging point at the Brecon office. We have also begun promoting ‘Green Thursdays’, where we are particularly mindful of environmental concerns with staff making the effort to be ‘greener’ by cycling to meetings, walking to work or having a meat-free day.
“I had previously always commuted from my Cardiff home to Brecon two days a week and to Gloucester two days a week. I felt that this was necessary to keep connected with the team. The pandemic has given me the chance to re-think this going forward. Hours driving through heavy traffic is a waste of time, and obviously not great for the environment. I intend to be smarter with my diary. No-one benefits from me being stuck in traffic for three hours a day, when I could be working more effectively at home. It’s all about striking a balance.