Negotiating the Back to Office Transition

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As lockdown eases and the office beckons, Merope Beddard, Client Services Director at AML Group explores how we hold onto the ‘good stuff’ of WFH as employees across the country are negotiating the home/office transition.

I’ve returned to work twice after maternity leave, but this feels so, so different. This time, it’s not just me who’s changed, it’s the whole world. There are some similarities though: the home focus, the slightly weird wardrobe, the ‘make do and mend’ mentality where you re-discover unloved items in your wardrobe, the frugality of uncertainty, the trying to get into shape, the ‘how will it work?’, ‘will we all get on?’ and ‘will it be like before?’ questions.

Of course, the differences are huge. It’s not just me emerging from a private world, it’s the whole of AML and employees throughout the UK. We’ve all changed, had time at home to reflect on the bigger picture, whilst combining work and domestic pleasures. Parents are more connected to their kids’ lives (for better or worse). Lunch is an event. Without a commute, there is more time to indulge in interests and simply, to be less tired.

But we’ve all kept on doing the day job, thriving at it even. I’m still me, still working office hours (and more) in my office at home. The team is dynamic and strong. We’re seeing more information sharing and transparency than before. There’s much to bank and to take forward. We’ve won new business and even hired senior folks.

The questions we now ask are: how do we keep the good stuff of WFH as the office beckons? The information sharing, the better timekeeping, the wiser use of tech. Can we work more flexibly without creating siloes? What is the value of physically working in the same space? Notwithstanding the obvious health and travel guidance questions.

Change is in the air and we need to move towards a new version of ourselves, of AML. And this is necessary, for us as individuals, for the agency and for the country at large. We need to emerge and connect, as there is particular alchemy in creative agencies where ideas grow and strengthen in the midst of small, casual conversations. In the riffing and being able to stand back from the wall and collectively review our work. In that physical sense of team where communication can be seen and read as well as heard and where engagement, inclusivity, and availability are blindingly obvious and spark bigger and better ideas.

We’ve made a success of it, but remote work can’t give us everything we need. I return a little wiser and with more life experience. I remain indebted to the NHS. I have greater clarity and appreciation of what I have and what AML has and want to bring all of that back with me to our glorious offices in Shoreditch.

The fire in my belly is still burning; and this time around, it’s a little more toned.

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