Ahmed Essam, chief executive of Vodafone in the UK, explains the thinking behind the company's new flexible approach to work.
Today is an exciting day for us. We begin our new flexible way of working: future ready.
Many of my colleagues will start to head back to the office for some of their working time, going in only as and when needed for their role, perhaps two or three days a week – myself included.
Others, notably many of our customer care colleagues, will continue working from home, while our network engineers will continue travelling around the country serving our customers and keeping them connected.
And of course, all our retail teams are already back in their “office” hard at work.
Flexibility and trust are the core principles underpinning this new way of working. As a further demonstration of these principles in action, we’ve introduced the opportunity to work from any location – at home or abroad – without the need to come in to a Vodafone office for up to four weeks a year.
It’s clear we’ll all need to be patient, tolerant and understanding of each person’s different needs as the new system beds in
And we are introducing Spirit of Vodafone days – no meetings, just a focus on wellbeing, personal growth and making connections.
It’s all about finding the right balance that works for us as a business, and that achieves the best of both worlds for the fantastic people who make our company the success it is.
We’ve come through this pandemic together, supporting our colleagues and our country – keeping the UK connected in so many ways. It’s been an amazing effort.
But it certainly won’t be back to business as usual.
While we may be through the worst of this pandemic, it isn’t over yet, so we remain cautious, putting the safety of our colleagues at the forefront of our planning.
With this in mind, we’ll restrict the number of people allowed back into our offices at first so that we avoid overcrowding and minimise the risk of spreading and catching coronavirus. We’ll manage this through the use of our new Vodafone Business Office Spaces booking tool, which is live now.
The booking tool will also help us run our own track and trace system, in line with Government requirements, so that we can identify people who may have been infected by someone who has tested positive for the virus.
We’ll also limit the size of physical face-to-face gatherings to 30 for the time being, and we’ll encourage mask wearing when moving around the offices and mingling in communal areas, such as lifts and coffee shops.
We’ll also continue our stringent cleaning regime which we introduced right at the start of this pandemic, providing hand sanitiser at strategic places throughout our offices, too.
New spaces, new thinking
People going back to the office will notice some other changes, too.
We’ve adapted them to suit these new ways of working, with flexibility and safety in mind. We’ve created a range of spaces suited to all types of work, from informal catch-up areas, to more formal sound-proofed meeting rooms with teleconferencing facilities built in.
Whether you just want to catch up on a bit of admin at a communal work bench, or get creative with your team in one of our new collaboration zones, our newly-designed offices provide work spaces for every need.
Listening and learning
Of course, this is a big adjustment for many of us after all the disruption and anxiety of the last 18 months. We’ll all need to take some time to adjust to these new work patterns. Some of us – like me – can’t wait to get back to the office for at least some of the working week. Others will be nervous about mixing with other people again in an office environment.
So it’s clear we’ll all need to be patient, tolerant and understanding of each person’s different needs as the new system beds in.
There will be teething problems, I have no doubt, but we’ll work through them. And we’ll listen, learn and adapt as we go, together. That’s the Spirit of Vodafone.
We got through this pandemic together by showing great spirit, purpose and ‘can-do’ attitude. We moved quickly to keep our people and customers safe, and we supported those who needed our help the most. It makes me very proud to lead such impressive teams.
So as we begin this new chapter in our company’s history, I’m excited to see what the future will bring, confident in the knowledge that we will be in an even stronger position to serve our customers well and continue our mission to bridge the digital divide.
For more information on what Vodafone’s new offices will look like, visit our future ready microsite.