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Delivering hybrid working and making ‘Moments that Matter’

In our latest series of blogs, members of the SIS Team reflect on what the new hybrid working arrangements mean to them. First up we have our CEO, Alastair Davis, who reveals his memories of ‘WFH Friday’ and discusses the progress we have made in delivering hybrid working practices the ‘SIS Way’.

“In common with organisations across the globe, at Social Investment Scotland (SIS) we’ve been taking time to consider how our working practices will change following the pandemic. As we have done for many years, we’ve been working with Fiona Gifford from the Performance Collective, particularly to explore how our shifting working practices will continue to align with our purpose and values.

Before the pandemic, I’d have considered SIS to be pretty progressive when it came to working practices – we worked flexibly and had already implemented Microsoft Teams (!) Many of you might have noticed that our email signatures shared that ‘at SIS, we work flexibly. From time to time I may send emails outwith ‘normal working hours. I don’t expect that you will read, respond, or action this message outside of your normal working hours’. That said, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and looking back, being honest, I know that we still did have a culture of presenteeism. Some colleagues would never work off site and as a Leadership team we used to have endless conversations about the minimum number of colleagues that needed to be in the office on any given day. Our Edinburgh office was, very much, the centre of gravity for SIS.

Personally, working every second Friday from home was a luxury, however I confess that I still felt guilty for doing so, even if I had perhaps been travelling that week and attended evening events. I still smile inwardly when that recurring diary appointment that I haven’t cancelled still pops up for my ‘WFH Friday’. A memory of times gone by.

Throughout the pandemic I’ve benefited from other leaders sharing their experiences, particularly when physically remote from each other. Working with the experts has highlighted that at SIS we have perhaps made more progress than some other organisations when it comes to implementing new working practices and I wanted to share three things that we have discovered on this journey. In future blogs, three of my colleagues will share their own experiences when it comes to changes in their own working lives.

  • Although SIS colleagues now spend most of their working week working from home (a decision made following extensive review and consultation) our ‘SIS Way’ has been adapted to include a number of ‘Moments that Matter’ throughout the year. We have collectively committed and contracted with each other that there are certain events where meeting face-to-face (safely!) is valued. This is at least quarterly as a whole team, including a social event, but monthly in operational teams. 1-2-1 discussions are always face-to-face.
  • In a challenging recruitment market, hybrid working has already opened up new possibilities for SIS colleagues. Edinburgh is no longer the centre of the universe when it comes to our operations and providing colleagues can commit to attending our ‘Moments’ then they no longer have to be living in commuting distance of Edinburgh.
  • Hybrid working has enabled deeper delivery when it comes to the delivery of our purpose. The quality and intensity of interactions with our customers, stakeholders and partners has increased and delivering programmes like our Retail Academy online means many more can attend – even internationally.

We’re not perfect by any means and will continue to review, learn and reflect – this is perhaps the most significant shift in our working lives that many of us will see in our careers. Our challenge as leaders is now, I believe, to embrace the possibilities and advantages of a new way of working that was originally forced upon us in the most difficult of circumstances.”