Hundreds of employees have returned to their office at the Royal Liver Building this week after one of the city’s biggest employers introduced its new hybrid working model.
Leading food and drink brand Princes has introduced two new flexible working options as part of its new ‘Smart Working’ project for its 500 staff based at the iconic waterfront office block.
The first is hybrid working where staff work two days remotely and three days in the office, while the second sees core hours being introduced from Monday to Friday.
The new options form part of a wider ‘Smart Working’ project which started in November 2019 – but was “quickly overtaken” by the first national lockdown in March 2020.
Joe Dent, Princes’ chief people officer, said: “Princes is a large and complex manufacturing business in which one size does not fit all.
“While workers at our manufacturing sites were classified as key workers and as such continued to work as normal during the pandemic, our office-based colleagues were not.
“With a call from the Government for those who could work from home to work from home, we had to do things differently – our focus shifted from input to output and that along with improved and increased internal communications has built two-way trust.”
Last year, Princes, which makes tinned meat, fruit, pies and more, spoke to BusinessLive about how Covid is the “biggest challenge” both the firm and industry has ever faced.
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The ‘Smart Working’ project aims to build upon some of the existing flexible working practices already on offer at Princes – including staggered start and finish times and “continental” shift patterns at manufacturing sites.
Mr Dent added: “The last 18 months have been transformational for the world of work. When the national lockdown was announced, IT undertook the huge task of setting people up to work remotely and there was a real sense of camaraderie as colleagues responded to these unprecedented circumstances.
“The number one consideration throughout was the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, and that focus continues now as we look to facilitate an improved work/life balance that enables us all to take advantage of improved flexibility while retaining the connections that can only be achieved by spending time together in a physical space.
“The launch of Smart Working is recognition that the world of work has changed forever. Work should no longer be about ‘where you go’ but ‘what you do’. The move to a hybrid model is about understanding that while some work can be done well remotely, other more collaborative and innovative work may be better suited to an office environment.
“We are also conscious that many colleagues are keen to return to the office either full or part-time. In a recent colleague survey, the vast majority were looking for a more flexible approach to office working.
“We know because we asked that the majority of our colleagues were hoping for a more flexible approach to work as we planned to return to the office – a plan that we called ‘Getting Back To Better’.”
Mr Dent said staff will continue to have a dedicated desk and will be able to work from the offices for more than three days a week. Staff have “welcomed” the new hybrid model, he added.
He said: “Ultimately, our aim is to attract and retain the best talent to support business growth and achieve our ambition of becoming an employer of choice.”
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