Check-a-Trade’s new approach to work – A poly-working culture


As a part of our research into the evolution of hybrid-working and the rise of Poly-working, we spoke to business leaders who were able to give us a personal account of what flexible working means to them and their organisation. 

Leaders who give their people a say in how they structure their work around life, are recognising that all individuals are, well, individual and that everyone’s realities look very different. Whilst 9-5 may work for some, 6-3 would work better for others and travelling into the office everyday certainly isn’t for everyone. 

Imagine the productivity and happy teams leaders could create, by offering the workplace flexibility that people are craving. We believe that is exactly what Poly-working offers. Poly-working is ‘poly’ because it recognises that not one-size fits all and that there’s multiple different ways to work. 

We’ve been speaking to leaders that have adopted a more flexible approach to work, post-lockdown. Although John Frith, Chief People Officer at Check-a-Trade doesn’t yet identify their work culture as ‘Poly-working,’ Check-a-Trade’s new approach to work is taking on a new, more flexible shape. Allow John to explain…

I believe that flexibility works both ways. The more flexible I am with my team, the more flexible they will be in return, increasing trust and driving engagement.

As we moved out of lockdown and returned to the office, we adopted a ‘hybrid’ approach across the company, with colleagues asked to come to the office for a minimum of two days each week. I trust my team to deliver, so I gave them the opportunity to choose the days in the office that work best for them. Everyone is different, and by giving them the choice of where to work I know I will get the highest levels of performance. I also believe there are peaks and troughs in workload, particularly in HR, so when it’s quieter I try to give time back to the team.

The best of both worlds

Prior to the pandemic we were predominantly an office-based company with most people in four or five days per week. The pandemic gave us an unique opportunity to test remote working  and during this time we didn’t see any drop in performance – so we know that it works. 

That said, we missed having time together in person so I fully believe that hybrid working will give us the best of both worlds, provided we use it effectively. That means embracing new technology more than ever and being willing to change direction as we ‘test and learn’ our new hybrid model.

I haven’t heard anyone say that hybrid working is the wrong approach for us – almost everyone is embracing the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. Of course, there are people who prefer to spend the full week in the office and I am sure that will continue. Even those who wanted to stay fully remote have enjoyed being back in the office and having the opportunity to socialise with their team, especially those who joined us during lockdown. 

Testing and learning

Hybrid is still a new concept for us  – we launched in mid-September – so it’s still early days. We set a trial period to give us all time to find our groove, and we continue to test and learn as much as possible to really embed it. As a result, I believe it’s too early to say we have seen a benefit, but I am very confident it will be successful and drive higher levels of engagement. I also believe that remote working isn’t right for everyone (including me) so had we just offered remote working as a business that would have created more issues.

Trust has always been critical for any leader and leadership team and while I don’t think hybrid working has changed that, I do believe it has taken on a new importance. When working remotely, you have to step back and trust your team but equally know the right moments to check in.

I believe everyone is different and remote works well for some roles and individuals – but certainly not all. To that end I can only speak for us at Check-a-trade – and we believe hybrid is the way forward. 

Homeworking allows us to enjoy the benefits of quiet space and focus, all while embracing new technology, and returning to the office allows us to reap the rewards of teamwork, collaboration and creativity that come with meeting in person. It’s early days, but so far it looks like hybrid working could really help us take our performance to the next level.

Our whitepaper, Poly-working: The Evolution of Hybrid Working, offers an in-depth insight into how leaders are responding to the demand for more work flexibility and we provide the five interlinking areas that organisations must focus on to keep up with the curve. 

You can read it here