News and Views

Pandemic Adjustments: Sustaining a People-Driven Culture

People have always been at the heart of Pembroke and Rye. We fail if they do not grow.

We nurture authentic relationships and promote people development (be it for the short-term intern or the CEO). Everyone is encouraged to seek challenging tasks, learn new skills and empathise with stakeholders. Curiosity is demanded, the giving of praise is rewarded. Nothing is fixed, the growth mindset is revered.1

When the pandemic struck, we learned quickly about the limits of our approach. Not being in an office together, meant nurturing relationships suddenly became much harder. Observations regularly made when closely supervising tasks were lost. Tracking how people were developing in their remote, digitally governed worlds, was incredibly difficult.

Prior to lockdown we used Microsoft Teams. Few grasped its potential. Most lacked the relevant skills to use it. Yet, when excluded from the office, each and every member of the team learned quickly.

For some, Teams, became a vital social lifeline. For others, different tools won the day. Pivot tables became my favourite. I am still ribbed about them.

As a business, we resisted the temptation to replicate the traditional pattern of office life.

We were flexible about start and finish times. Dress became more casual. Online calls sustained morale and mental health.  

Our patterns of work also changed. Being apart meant we had to plan more carefully. Actions were meticulously recorded. New types of client relationships were forged.

Adaptation was driving us forward.

Learning evolved in new ways. Every Wednesday, in an online group meet we analysed a topical news story. Structure, bias, language and style are enthusiastically interrogated. Culturally, Games Night has replaced the pub. Virtual Countdown now teases the most agile of minds.  

In the last 15 months we did make tough financial decisions. However, we never paraded revised budgets in front of our people or lauded harsh new targets. Challenging economics were set aside in favour of the potential of every member of our team. Promotions continued.

In tough times we wanted to unleash the ‘human magic’2 by sustaining our values and adapting to our clients’ needs. By taking this path we were determined that the pandemic was not going to block our people, and ultimately our business, from flourishing.

Text Link

Written By: Kevin Read