Reflection & Projection

Covid Trends
9 February 2021

A challenging 2020 brought with it opportunities to learn and grow. It has become clearer than ever that support for our teams is vital, even when it cannot be in person. Portico is all about people. When the country locked down suddenly last March, the networks that we had built and the people we worked to provide excellent services for were suddenly gone. We had to find new ways to bring people together.

For organisations that work on the frontline like Portico, adapting to the pandemic was a complex process. With three quarters of our professionals in roles that could not be done from home and offices closing, many of our colleagues had to be furloughed. Long term, we had to consider the implications of clients right-sizing operations and adapting to a ‘post-Covid’ approach to working. Throughout this, we had to keep our people in the loop. Uncertainty causes a lot of anxiety so updating everyone was our priority. Those who could continue working were doing so in a more stressful and unpredictable world. Suddenly, taking public transport or going grocery shopping were fraught. We wanted to find ways to support people no matter their situation.

Portico: Connect was at the heart of supporting our teams remotely. This launched in March. It was designed to keep everyone up to date with changes and support wellbeing. We also hosted live ‘ask me anything’ sessions so teams could directly address any of their concerns. Many also follow our social media channels, which provide an informal channel of communication. While internal communication has always been important, the pandemic has shown up anywhere that it could be improved. Moving forwards, organisations need to learn from their experience and develop more resilient systems. For us, that meant designing and releasing another engagement app, Heartbeat. Taking all our learnings from the past months, we are finding ever better ways to engage with the Portico family.

In the post-Covid era, the front-of-house role will expand. Our teams will be responsible for seeing a safe return to the office, informing and reassuring those in the workplace of measures in place and ensuring those measures are followed. We will need to invest time into supporting and training our colleagues.

2021 will be a time for organisations to take what they have learned and develop systems and processes that are even more agile. We are not alone in being excited to return to the office. While many people are talking about a hybrid approach, it is clear that the office has a great deal to offer. The workplace will need to provide things that home working cannot in order to remain in demand. There will be an acceleration in the move toward the ‘workplace as a service’ model. Personalised service and the human touch will make all the difference and front-of-house teams will lead this evolution.

In a time of anxiety and unpredictability, front-of-house professionals are the consistent, reassuring face. They are working on the frontline of the pandemic to support their clients. This work needs to be recognised and celebrated. Strong internal communication and support networks will be a core part of the post-Covid era. More than ever, we will be relied upon by clients as a hub of knowledge about customer experience and their site. Training and investing in our teams’ skillset and wellbeing will be the way forward in 2021.