In the first of three episodes, we discuss the practicalities of moving Beazley’s global workforce out of our offices, and the importance of employee health and safety above all else when it comes to reopening, and returning to, the workplace. With Munira Hirji, global head of commercial management.Support the show
Welcome to the Beasley podcast. I'm an alumni and this is the first of our return to work series, which explores the interconnected risks that industries and organizations face as they manage the impact of COVID-19 and navigate the challenges and responsibilities of operating in a post lockdown world. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been called the greatest test for humanity since world war II by the United nations. And the international monetary fund has stated that the global economy now faces its worst downturn. Since the great depression, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives and millions have been pushed into poverty while global commerce and financial markets, geopolitical relations and critical infrastructure will take years to recover from the viruses far reaching impact. Still despite the hardship and challenges, the tenacity of the human spirits has never been more apparent hospitals that would ordinarily have taken months if not years, to build once up in mere weeks, people around the world have rallied in support of those most in need. And now as the lockdown tentatively begins to lift, we're feeling our way towards a new normal in the way we live and work between introducing new working practices and safety measures and planning for the possibility of future waves of the virus and further economic downturn. There is opportunity to rethink the way we work longterm and to change it for the better I'm joined in this three part edition by manera Hershey, head of commercial management for Beasley globally. Minera has been at Beasley for 11 years and is responsible for the company's real estate procurement outsourcing and travel management and information and data security worldwide in her role. She's pioneered and moved towards activity based working and the offices she designs most recently, the forthcoming global headquarters in London are reflective of her passion for creating experiential and flexible working spaces. She's also a member of Beasley's inclusion and diversity committee in this episode. Manira and I talk about the practicalities of moving Beasley's global workforce out of our offices back in March and the importance of health and safety of employees above all Laos , when it comes to reopening and returning to the workplace. Let me start by asking you manera about how you and your team dealt with the introduction of the lockdown, including the shutting of BCS offices and how you've been preparing for an actioning, the reopening of our offices as we start to emerge from lockdownSpeaker 2:
In terms of, in terms of the global lockdown. And as we were coming into this in January, we kind of got a sense that something, something was different this time around, we were hearing what was going on. It was very difficult to know how that was going to impact us, but I'm part of the business continuity management team. And we decided to stop meeting on a , on a regular basis in January, almost daily, just to keep track of what was happening. So I think because we started meeting earlier than marches , which is when the lockdown happened, I think we had time to kind of process what's the right thing to do here. It was still a very difficult decision to say, we're going to lock down our offices. I think that's radical for any company, but these are very unusual times and we had to do something that we've never done before. We didn't even have a, I mean, we always test for these types of scenarios, but we never test for a global shutdown that every single office is going to is going to be shut down. So obviously the number one priority when we were, when we were making this decision is what is best for our people? How do we keep our people safe? And what's the right thing to do for them and their say their safety, their health and wellbeing. And so we took the very important, difficult, but important step of shutting down our offices in March. And I have to say, I think what really surprised me was how smoothly we went from working in the office one day to being home the next day. And I think a huge amount of recognition has to go to our it team for that because we had already been, you know, sort of upgrading our technology and we can talk about this. We have activity based working rolled out in a, in an , in a few of our offices and was a huge initiative for us before the lockdown. But I think what this has shown is that we were actually in really good stead to be able to move from a UN in a hundred percent in office working environment with some flexibility to a hundred percent homeworking environment with unlimited flexibility. And I think what we, what we've realized is that our people are not only flexible, they're adaptable. They, they rise to the occasion and our business, you know, has been flourishing. I would say, even though it's been a difficult environment, I think we've shown that we can actually operate in an environment like this. I think that while it was difficult, we did it. And not only did we do it, I think we did it, you know,Speaker 1:
Quite well. I would absolutely agree with that. And I, I can only really imagine as an outsider, looking in the challenges that the practical considerations, and also as you say, that it's really people at the center of, of this, the health and safety and wellbeing of people, not only physical, but their mental wellbeing as well, and their reassurance that they are being thought of and cared for by their place of work. And as you say , obviously, that was Beasley's global approach manera. So from our perspective, there was no variance really there on a country to country or office to office basis. But did you find that there were any particular challenges when it came to dealing with all of the different jurisdictions and geographies that you deal with, particularly maybe now that you're looking at getting people back to the office or at least allowing them the opportunity to go back to the office, should they feel comfortable to do so?Speaker 2:
I think in the beginning, when we locked down, it was pretty universal. It was very clear, the local governments , the local authorities and all of our jurisdictions were all of the opinion that everything had to shut down. So it was very easy to know where we stood in each jurisdiction when it came to closing the office. The thing that I think has definitely been challenging is following each of these individual jurisdictions around the world to see exactly what are they doing. And in some cases, jurisdictions didn't actually even lock down. There were some variances, but Beasley took the position that we wanted to be consistent with our people and our stuff. And so we closed all of our offices and asked everybody to work from home until such time, as we felt that the environment was safe and that we could assure their safety and wellbeing, should they return back to the office? So I think everyone was struggling with keeping up with this very dynamic situation that we found ourselves in. You need to see what your peers are doing and how are you conducting business. You need to look at the health and the mental health, particularly of people. I don't think anyone expected us to be in this situation for as many weeks as we have been. And I think that, you know , we started to look around to say, you know, what really makes sense for each jurisdiction? And we took a very local approach to making decisions about where the officers should open or not taking everything into consideration, including, you know, what is the local authority guidance there. And if it gave us flexibility to open with , then look at what's best for our people, and can we bring people back into the office and can we put them in a really, you know, safe and productive environment.Speaker 1:
Thanks for joining us today to learn more about this topic and others, please visit easily academy.com for an extensive library of videos, podcasts, articles, and blog posts. I'm Anna [inaudible] . And this has been a busy podcast as part of our return to work series. Join us next time when Minera and I will be talking about how the recent lockdown has expedited a cultural sea change and how the flexible working trend also advocates for inclusivity and diversity in the workforce. His podcast is for preliminary informational purposes. Only coverage is subject to each policies , terms and conditions for additional information about Beasley . Please visit easily.com.