What are the biggest challenges HR has faced over the past year?
The biggest challenge has been the speed and pace with which we’ve had to implement any new policies and practices in order to manage the furlough scheme. It’s been hugely welcomed as it’s enabled us to significantly reduce our outgoings and has kept people employed, but the logistics of implementing the Government’s various initiatives are very complex – as is making sure that we’re paying people correctly and legally. Getting it all moving as swiftly as possible, has been a trial. Personally, being in the arts, we’ve furloughed around 85% of our staff, and whilst the furlough scheme is working for us now, we can’t wait to open our doors once again and welcome guests into the Globe.
How have you overcome communication challenges in this time?
It’s been hard, with the majority of our workforce on furlough, to ensure that we’re keeping people as informed as they want or need to be. It obviously takes a toll on the whole workforce; those who are not currently working want to be kept in the loop and we’ve utilised not just our internal intranet to do this but we’ve also ensured that we’re personally checking in on people, and we’ve conducted presentations via Vimeo that people can watch in their own time. Our CEO has been at the forefront in keeping people informed, even when there hasn’t been a lot of clarity, just to reassure them that the Globe is still here, waiting for them to return.
Do you think progressing the HR agenda throughout the pandemic has taken a back seat?
HR has been integral in this time, but obviously with the pandemic to overcome, no new initiatives have been rolled out that aren’t essential to the operation of the business. At the Globe we’ve had to re-deploy HR practitioners to other areas of the business purely to focus on the increased need for wellbeing support – but it’s been very much ‘all-hands-on-deck’ to get through this together in very difficult circumstances. But we are still focussed on the longer-term plan, and we’re very much thinking about the medium and longer-term too.
How do you see the longer-term changing due to the pandemic?
It’s an interesting question; obviously we have no idea what the world of work will look like even in months, let alone years. The biggest key change will be the flexibility of being able to work remotely, which is here to stay. We’re very fortunate that we have very robust IT capabilities so the move to remote was swift, but for others the logistics of long-term digital commuting are yet to be truly realised. What has been really interesting is how refreshing flexible working has been for the workforce as a whole. We knew that it would be, but seeing productivity in some areas actually exceed the pre-COVID norms despite the pandemic is fascinating.