Rethinking the working environment

Recently we shared one of the most interesting findings of our survey: 

7% of our survey respondents are looking to adopt a completely new way of working i.e. no permanent office space, remote applications, etc 

We then put a call out for any business that wanted to share with us why that decision was made. 

One of our own long-standing local customers GB Solutions put their hand up. Read on to hear more about their experience. 

GB Solutions is an owner managed recruitment consultancy based in Gloucestershire, which covers the M4/M5 corridors. Run by Mike Goode and Sue Waters the business has been established since 1999 and specialises in six divisions of recruitment, HR & Legal, Tech, Finance, Sales, Marketing and Commerce. The team also actively supports schools and universities in their career guidance, such as; Hartpury and the University of Gloucestershire – and they champion the Gloucestershire STEM network. We asked Mike several questions to better understand why he was ready to make such a radical change.  


Why have you made the decision to completely change the way you work? 

Over the last couple of years, it was becoming more and more difficult to meet candidates in the office between 8am and 6pm. We were therefore attending many more coffee shops or skype/zoom sessions to meet the needs of the candidate. Naturally we were questioning the necessity of office space.

Our commercial lease then came up for renewal and we took this as an opportunity to review our practices and offering. It didn’t take long to make the decision to gradually adopt a more flexible approach to our service,  for both internal and external customers. We allowed the lease to expire and committed to invest in new IT that would enable more practical and efficient working, from anywhere. Among other changes, we hopped onto Office 365 in spring 2019 and Tech OP completed all the necessary cyber and penetration checks for us at the time.


What were you most concerned about when making the move? 

Our database, it is our most important digital asset. We took our time with this to make sure we got it right. It was the last piece in the puzzle, and I am pleased to say we have just moved from our old physical SQL server-based recruitment database to a cloud-based recruitment platform. We used the Covid enforced downtime to affect a smooth implementation.  


From an IT perspective what is the most positive outcome of the change? 

We now benefit from far less IT interruptions with the quality of our connectivity being the key to our efficiency. Remote login just simply did not work for us and nor was it a particularly secure way of working. The way we work now provides us more flexibility, secure working and better resilience all round. 

By putting everything on to the cloud we can now work anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It also allows us to be active when the business needs us or when our energy levels are highest.” 


How has this changed your working day specifically Mike? 

I walk my dog around 6am, catch the news, LinkedIn, and emails over breakfast. This has filled the time slot I previously reserved for face to face breakfast meetings. I then work solidly until lunchtime. I often take an extended lunch break and longer dog walk before being back in the home office late afternoon or early evening. I manage to work a full day and average 16000+ steps a day!!! 


What savings have you recognised as a result? 

I am personally saving approximately £300 a month on fuel costs alone, 1.5 hours a day minimum commuting time and have shaved between upwards of 15% off our fixed costs. Good for me, good for the business and good for the environment. 


How have your team responded to the change? 

My team all have varying home pressures, need more flexibility and we are hopefully delivering a better work life balance and delivering the same high standard of service.  

We will still have the occasional physical team meeting, currently conducted online, because recruitment is after all a people business.   

I am sure the working practices will evolve further over time, but we have certainly shifted from physical office base to a completely flexible approach and I can never see us going back. 


How has COVID affected your industry? 

In general, we have seen a seismic shift in candidate and job activity from candidate shortages and plentiful jobs in early March to the reverse by mid-May. Of course, this is only a headline figure and at a more granular level skills in high demand before COVID are still scarce now as people are reluctant to move during this furlough bubble or pending uncertainty over redundancy.  

For the county the landscape is interesting, as we are now being approached by Software Developers, Financial Analysts, e-Commerce experts and Solicitors looking to move out of London. 

For GB Solutions, we have still had new starters placed in all the last three months. I am aware though that for those clients that are recruiting the onboarding of new employees has been a challenge! 

As we all find our different ways through the current crisis COVID is the term that is becoming synonymous with re-evaluating our positions and it is expected that many of us will see significant change to the way we work in the coming months. Indeed, our survey outlined that whilst only 7% of respondents will go the same way as GB Solutions have, there is a desire for changeand with 84% of our respondents confirming that position we would love to hear more. 

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