“A hybrid working style suits us, the business, and the wider industry too”
Two years post the initial reopening post Covid, George Carter and Eleanor Coogan, commercial surveyors at Cluttons and recent graduates, share their experiences of the changing world of work.
Our experience of working in the office pre-pandemic was mostly positive. We enjoyed coming in as there was always an opportunity to interact with colleagues from across the business and after work socialising was common.
Working from home during the pandemic was strange to start with, but we adapted and it soon became the ‘norm’. It is definitely harder to get good social interaction, but it was nice not having to commute to the office on a daily basis and, being based from home, provides good opportunities for mindfulness and sporting activities which a five day commute can eat into.
When it comes to comparing the two, there are obviously pros and cons. Being able to learn from your colleagues is really important as a graduate. With team rotations and the work required to complete the APC, it’s necessary to have relationships with colleagues within your current team as well as the wider graduate network. Being able to collaborate effectively and connect at all levels is key and this is definitely easier to achieve when in the office. Similarly, overhearing conversations in the office all adds to the learning process for graduates undertaking their APC.
Equally, it’s important to have days at home to focus on a specific task or just to get some extra time at the start or end of the day to unwind.
We believe that a hybrid working style suits us, the business and the wider industry too. Being a sociable industry, choosing the days to be in the office gives you flexibility both within the workplace and in your own spare time. It seems that the five-day working week in the office was outdated anyway and the need for flexible working has benefited people at all levels. Of course, the change ups in the environment across the week helps to keep focussed.
Post pandemic, the office culture had notably changed – there were a lot of new faces and lots of catching up to do. The social events that were planned definitely helped and so did the new fit out of the Cluttons HQ which supported our new ways of working. There was a hot desk system which means the office floor is being used more effectively, and a clear understanding of which teams would definitely be in on which days primarily, with the rest of the week more flexible. The fact you are not set to one desk means you can sit next to new people and interact with people you wouldn’t normally talk to. This also opens up new social opportunities and better collaboration, which is a key value across the Cluttons business.
Most surveyors are not always tied to a desk with lots of our time taken up on inspections, client meetings etc. Therefore, having flexibility over working from home or in the office means that we are able to manage our time effectively and be more practical about routes and efficiency.
The best thing about being back in the office is being around colleagues. We both like to be around people and having friends in the office always makes your working day more enjoyable. We feel supported by the team in the office, being physically together can make a five minute catch up seem easier and learning a new job role sitting next to your manager makes the learning process better. However, there is still great support when working remotely, if we ever have any queries when working from home we feel just as supported as if we were physically in the office – but this wouldn’t be as strong if we were back to working from home constantly.