After many months of working at home, with just a short interlude last summer, I am delighted to have had our whole team working back in the office for the last four weeks. And they are happy to be back together again too. We have at last been able to crack open and share the tins of chocolates and biscuits that came from our clients at Christmas!
Its been challenging working remotely with each other, providing support with learning, working with new clients both for accounts and payroll and introducing new ways of working. We still have clients who prefer paper to electronic and it meant coming to collect envelopes, files, etc when needed.
But the end plan was always to be back together despite all the media hype of no-one wanting to work in an office ever again! It was a novelty at first, working from home, but some of my team had children to home school and partners to work at home alongside and they were keen to return to work for a change of scene and to get back to a routine.
Our business has always supported people who want to work around their families, studying or other commitments but I do agree set hours and days of work with them so that I can plan which clients they can commit to working with and so we all know who will be in the office and when. It also enables them to plan for the work that they need to do as each of our team has a responsibility for their own clients.
The team had a phased return initially just one day a week, ensuring there were only half of the team in the office at a time and so we could ensure everyone was comfortable with returning and the measures we had in place.
We are very lucky to have a spacious office with a separate room to take a break at lunch time and a separate room for meeting with clients, suppliers and for training. Of course we still keep our distance, sanitize hands and wear face masks when we need to work together but as everyone only works 3 or 4 full or part days each week there is actually only one day in the week when all of us are in the office together.
One of our team started work with us as a trainee bookkeeper 3 months before lockdown so didn't have much chance to work with and learn from us before having to work at home alone. Another trainee bookkeeper joined us in September last year and until now has spent most of her time in the office with just me for company! Now both are enjoying working with everyone else and being able to learn more by hearing and being part of all that goes on in our busy office. The newest member of our team joined us at the end of March and has been able to work with and get to know the team during the phased return.
I think it is important for everyone to be in the office and to be aware of what's happening with payroll and with bookkeeping because it is amazing how enlightening a telephone call or a chance conversation can be in relation to something someone else is working on.
Clients dropping off paperwork and even our postman have commented how nice it is to see everyone back and it feels like a hive of activity again.
Long may it last!