Adapting our return to office to suit the future of work

There is no denying that this last year has been challenging for businesses, and in particular how we have had to revaluate the ways in which we work.

It has, however, given us the opportunity to refresh our home working policies and as we think about our return to the office it is allowing Allstate to offer more flexibility in working location and pattern to all of our employees.

In the early hours of 16th March 2020, all Allstate Northern Ireland employees were informed via text message that they were to work from home until further notice. Thanks to our Field Support teams across our three locations, getting a suitable working from home set up for over 2400 employees was a seamless operation. Fast forward 14 months and we are preparing for our return to the office, but it will be different to what office life was like before the pandemic.

All of our Allstate NI employees were recently designated as ‘hybrid’ workers, meaning that no one will need to be in the office full time to deliver their job effectively. This is a pivotal moment globally for Allstate and we are being bold in defining our future, reimagining how and where we work and writing the next chapter of our story. The Hybrid offering allows employees flexibility to work either remotely or in the office at any time based on business needs. Our return to office will allow us to test, learn, adapt and iterate the Hybrid working model and further help shape the future workplace.

We are changing our offices to suit this new way of working too – employees will no longer come into the office to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. Instead, the office will be a place for collaboration and teamwork, with plenty of breakout and social areas and more interactive conference call technology will keep people connected in and out of the office.

We want all of our employees to feel safe and comfortable with the plans put in place for returning. That means for us as a company we are happy to accommodate employees working arrangement in line with business needs. Remote working has also opened up new recruitment opportunities and we have been able to advertise roles UK wide, broadening our talent pool.

Providing a good working from home set up was also a major priority for us and in December last year we launched our Good Office Program. We allocated a set allowance to every Allstate NI employee, allowing them to purchase equipment to provide themselves with a productive and ergonomically friendly workspace. We’ve also ensured all other aspects of an employee’s health has been a focus whilst working remotely, with an emphasis on mental health initiatives as working remotely, and potentially in isolation, can have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.

As we move forward, I would encourage all businesses to look at their return to office plans – we’ve proved that great work can still be delivered in these strangest of times from any location, and our experience is that allowing greater flexibility results in highly motivated and engaged employees.