Office jobs have changed almost beyond recognition in the last two years. In the midst of the pandemic, enabling your workforce to be as agile as possible was crucial to survival. But a year on from the end of most restrictions in the Western world, what mark has this left on workplace culture, and how have expectations for the workforce changed?
Our CEO & founder, Johnny McCord, says that ‘since the pandemic has eased, some traditional organisations are beginning to shift back to those old ways of working, rather than maintaining the new hybrid arrangements. We knew we didn’t want to do that – but it’s still quite new within British working culture.’
Initially conceived as a remote business, Loadsure was already paving the way for the more flexible approach which has since been adopted on a wider scale. Yet for traditional insurance and finance businesses, this is a huge departure from a long-standing history of workplace culture defined by just that – the attendance of a physical workplace.
The legacy of traditional workplace culture
We already know that workplace culture is vital to both the wellbeing of your employees and the performance of your business. A recent survey found that 46% of jobseekers stated company culture is an important consideration for them while job hunting. There are many different factors that shape the atmosphere of a business, but if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the stance you take on remote and flexible working is one of the defining tenets of workplace culture.
In sectors like banking, law or insurance, being in the office from 9 till 5, Monday to Friday has often been the minimum requirement. That doesn’t begin to cover the often tacit expectation of pulling late or weekend shifts, on site. Undoubtedly, some vocations do require a physical presence, but for many white collar workers, it can lead needlessly to burnout.
We’ve noted it before, but these sectors have also proven themselves slow to adapt in other ways, be it to societal shifts or new technologies. With such a legacy to maintain, and the need to navigate “the way it always has been”, making meaningful changes to processes or workplace culture in these industries can be slow and frustrating.
The autonomy of start-ups
By contrast, being part of a young business can grant you the freedom to shape your own culture. There’s no doubt that a start-up comes with its own challenges, but you have the opportunity to carve out a way of working that suits your team, rather than vice versa. As Johnny puts it, ‘we’re tearing up the rulebook. We don’t have a legacy to nurture, and we can continue to grow on our own terms, as a collective.’
Here are just a handful of things that being a start-up gives you more control over, and each of these can have a sizeable impact on company culture:
- The siloed hierarchy and structure of your teams
- Your ways of communicating, and the expectations around availability
- Your chosen workflow management systems
- The holiday entitlement for your staff, and any additional personal days
- The types of technology (both hardware and software) you provide
- Your flexible working policy and the provision of office space
- The standards of mutual respect and trust that are set within the business
Young businesses can optimise these core pillars in line with the habits and preferences of staff, rather than asking them to abide by pre-existing rules and policies. Simply put, working for a start-up – be it as a founder, exec or junior – you’re more likely to have your voice heard.
Pioneering a new type of workplace culture
This advantage, combined with a progressive attitude, has enabled Loadsure to pioneer a new type of workplace culture. As the founder of Loadsure, Johnny has also been the founder of the company culture. One of his core objectives on this front has been to ensure that ‘no one is on a pedestal here. Everyone has a job to do, but their contributions are all equally respected, valued and rewarded.’ To me, this approach manifests clearly in the ownership options that every single employee is presented with.
For instance – four years since we launched – and flexibility is still at the heart of how we operate. To us, flexibility is more than an empty pledge designed to drive recruitment; it’s one of our central values. Our culture is built around trust, and with no surveilling amongst colleagues, everyone is at liberty to work in a way that’s compatible with their lives, providing our standard of work is upheld.
While we observe core hours, we’re working around several time zones, so there’s an inevitable degree of wiggle room that comes with that – especially for working parents with commitments like childcare and the school run. We also put a big emphasis on keeping a firm work/life balance, and the company goes to great lengths to make this possible. A portion of our team works remotely, but with several office locations (and co-working provisions) we offer flexible hybrid working to anyone who prefers to keep that boundary between home and work.
It’s important to us that our team feel supported, whether that be by enabling them to prioritise their mental health when necessary, or trying to make strides in our approach to diversity and inclusion. We also don’t operate in silos. It’s Johnny’s firm belief that ‘siloing things out suppresses all that creativity, knowledge and experience that everyone in the business has to offer.’ So the senior leadership team isn’t an elusive, unreachable club, and they’re happy to roll their sleeves up, whenever time allows.
Collectively, all of these measures help to strengthen our community, which we believe is unique in the industry. Wherever they are in the world, our team chooses to spend time together, be it for a social chat in the Virtual Loadsure Lounge or a private catch up.
As the company grows, we’ll do our best to keep that start-up spirit, and stay true to Johnny’s original vision. ‘We want to sustain a culture of respect, connectivity and transparency. This is one team and one company, and everyone who becomes a part of it should share in our success, and feel that sense of ownership.’