At this time of the year, the most common question we get asked is whether we can support people with independent salary advice.

To be truthful, this is almost always on the minds of people looking for a new job but in February and March, as part of the annual planning cycle, the tables turn, and employers become very keen to understand how competitive they are.

While we would never breach the confidentiality of our clients and candidates, with over 20 years of experience working with public practices across the Northeast, we have the privilege of gaining extensive insight into average salaries across all levels of the industry. It’s this broader picture that enables us to help firms determine whether or not they are paying the market rate.

Market insight

Echoing our experience, the most recent KPMG and REC report on jobs found that easing pandemic restrictions have improved market confidence and given rise to a historically sharp uplift in recruitment activity.

With a scarcity of candidates, the knock-on effect is more upward pressure on starting rates of pay, which is now increasing at the third-fastest pace since records began, behind only October and November of last year.

Couple this with sky-high household bills and rocketing inflation and it’s easy to see why having an understanding of where your company’s offer sits amongst your competitive set has never been so important. You simply cannot afford to get this wrong.

Specifically in the North-East, while we continue to see employees re-evaluating their work-life balance in the wake of Covid, there has also been a distinct rise in people searching for new roles purely for monetary reasons.

In a recent poll of business owners, 30% are planning no salary inflation rise for their teams this year, in contrast to 63% offering more than the standard 2%. However, with starting salaries rising between 10 and 15%, whether people are feeling underpaid and undervalued, want to work permanently from home, or have seen friends receive multiple job offers and move on to do the same role for more, people who are feeling the pinch are getting tired of it.

What to consider

Right now, a standard inflationary increase applied to everyone in the business at the start of the new fiscal year is a good start, but it is only good enough if your salaries are on, or ahead of, the market rate.

When speaking to our clients, we encourage them to set aside time to review salaries quarterly. While it may sound like overkill, the market is changing at such speed, it will be time well spent.

In the world of accountancy, while professional qualifications have a benefit to your business, often practical experience is more valuable so, please, never base salaries on professional qualifications alone.

Of course, not everyone gets blinded by money. Each candidate is unique and there are more factors to consider but, if you are recruiting and think the person is right for you, we would urge you to offer your best salary first. This is not the time to scrimp and save and you don’t want to be the one that falls at the last hurdle.

Regarding your existing team, making sure they know you value them is critical. When reviewing their salary, try asking yourself what life would be like if they were gone. Would they be easy to replace? Are they worth the top end of your salary range? If the answers are no and yes, it’s probably a good time to up the ante as it’s a competitive market out there.

The good news for business is that rising salaries won’t keep increasing exponentially. And, when they do plateau, being in line with the market rate will make it much easier to not only recruit but is far less likely to upset anyone when a new team member joins on a higher salary.

The job market has endured a lot of upheaval in the past two years but, for now, it is being firmly driven by candidate availability.

In the world of accountancy, there are far more opportunities in Public Practice than people who are looking for a new challenge.

It is fabulous news for ambitious, skilled professionals who can present themselves well. They have a pick of fantastic positions, and a new job offer is never far away, but this can also become a slightly double-edged sword.

After 20 years working in the North East recruitment market, right now, when a good candidate reaches out to me and is sure they want to move, quite often I can help them to secure a job offer within a matter of days. And for many, this is far too fast.

From the time they decided to start looking to when they receive the offer, they haven’t had the time to feel like they have explored their options properly and, while I would only put them forward for something I think fits with what it is they said they wanted, moving jobs is a big decision and they need to be sure the offer is the right one for them.

When speaking to people about this, I always ask them to consider several different elements before making their decision:

1. Firstly, take a moment to make sure you have enough information to be able to make a choice. Have you researched the company thoroughly? Did you ask all of the questions you wanted to at the interview? Once a role has been offered, don’t be afraid to ask for further information. You could even arrange to go into the office for a tour so you can get a feel for the place and culture. At this stage, you are in the driving seat, so do whatever it takes to give you the peace of mind you need.

2. Be honest with yourself and discuss any doubts you have, however small they seem, with the business, your recruiter, or family and friends.

3. Once you have an offer, go back to your original reasons for leaving your current role. Consider carefully whether you are satisfied that the new job and business is going to meet your objectives.

4. It is very easy to get carried away with the financials. A great offer may sway your decision making, but try to remember that salaries can change, especially if you are in the right company and doing a good job.

5. Think about the long-term. Do you want progression and if so, is there a path in place for you? What is it that you ultimately want to achieve, and how will having this experience on your CV influence your options in three to five years?

6. Try not to be too influenced by emotions. You must put yourself at the centre of the decision-making process and think practically, as the impact of your happiness at work has an enormous bearing on so much of your life.

7. We all have the best of intentions when it comes to work-life balance but will the new role give you the balance you want? If not, do the benefits outweigh the sacrifice?

8. A little compromise can sometimes be okay, providing that it aligns with your bigger picture and goals. This is particularly useful to remember if you are considering a number of different offers at once.

Above all else, a new career move should excite you. That’s why I would also say don’t be afraid to listen to your gut a little too. You know yourself better than anyone so, if it feels right deep down, and the rational analysis checks out, then it’s time to make the change.

At this time of year, my work and life tend to become especially hectic, and I don’t think I’m alone.

For many people, the nearer we edge toward the sanctuary of a well-earned festive break, the more this most wonderful time of the year transforms into one of the most stressful.

Whether it’s linked to the pressure of sales targets, the financial year-end, or the need to lock down new budgets and plans, the calendar’s end never fails to instigate a deep desire in people to clear any outstanding jobs and tick them off their list before they can even begin to contemplate relaxing.

This year, when you add into the melting pot two years of constant change, irregular holidays, the blurred work-life boundaries created by homeworking, and the pressure of organising a magical Christmas at home, it is all too easy to see why December and January are the months that carry the highest risk of people burning out or losing the enthusiasm to work for their current employer.

What can you do to help yourself?

A certain level of stress may be unavoidable but, even if you are working long hours, burnout is preventable.
Firstly, there are some common warning signs you should look out for, including an increasing number of errors at work, higher than usual levels of anxiety and worry, being constantly tired, or becoming disengaged and moody.

If this sounds like you, then it’s time to sprinkle a little bit of joy back into your life. Start by stepping off the daily treadmill, even if only for a short time, to look after your health and well-being:

  • Exercise

Not only is exercise good for physical health, but it is also good for mental health and gives a positive emotional boost.

  • Eat Well

Eating healthily and, if possible, including foods in your diet that act as natural antidepressants, like those rich in Omega-3, can also help to lift your mood.

  • Get some sleep

Resting your body and resetting your mind is essential for your welfare, and that means getting into a healthy and regular sleep routine.

  • Ask for help

During stressful times, it’s so important to reach out for help when you need it and share your problems instead of burying them and letting them build.

I know it’s not easy – and I need to take a lot of this advice myself – but these four widely accepted pieces of wisdom should help to navigate you safely to the Christmas break.

If you still feel unhappy, however, the holidays also offer the momentary pause you need to reflect, and I would start with four key questions; where you are, what is important to you, where do you want to be, and are you happy with the balance between home, family, work, and time for yourself.

They are big questions, so you must be brave and honest with yourself. If you struggle, try chatting openly with family and friends, and thinking about what makes you truly happy. The answers to what you do next won’t be far away from there.

Personally, I like to use the downtime Christmas brings to be with my family and plan for the new year by creating lists and setting new goals and routines. This helps me to be clear about what it is I want to achieve in the coming months and how I plan to make it happen.

This year, I have a feeling it could lead to introducing and sticking to some new work-life boundaries, but whatever it means for you, don’t be afraid of change. It is always better to try something new than settle for something that doesn’t make you happy. Not many people regret making a choice, but plenty regret doing nothing at all.

Millions of people around the world are re-evaluating their working lives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commonly known as the ‘Great Resignation’, this growing movement of reflection continues to drive record numbers of workers to voluntarily head for the door and join a job market brim-full of labour shortages and rising unemployment.

Should I stay or go?

Many different inspirations can trigger the search for a new job. When compiled by the pressures of a global epidemic, permanent changes to working environments, or even a new appreciation for the ephemeral nature of life, it is no surprise to see so many people reassessing their situation.

Like most things, jobs have ups and downs and, while it is easy to get swept along in a sea of change, here are some thoughts to help you to decide whether it’s the right time to make a change, or not.

  • Know your purpose.

Whatever the catalyst for change, when working out the best way forward, the most important thing to do is to make sure you understand what it is that truly motivates you.

We spend more than half our waking life at work, so getting satisfaction should be the priority. If you aren’t happy then maybe it is time to weigh up your options.

  • Be honest with yourself.

Start by asking yourself questions along the lines of What are you good at? What are you passionate about? What do you like about your current job? What is important to you?

You need to work out what matters most in the long-term and, if you’re lucky enough to match this with your strengths, it should become a lot easier to figure out the direction to your goals.

  • People grow out of even the best jobs.

Sometimes you need a change or a new challenge to reinvigorate yourself, but before you begin to search, make sure you take time to think about your current role, your employer, and your prospects.

Does your company’s ambition match your own? Do you get on with your colleagues? What does your boss think of you? What do you think of your boss?

There’s a lot to be said for being appreciated and trusted in the workplace. If you feel empowered and have autonomy, you need to make sure that will remain if you decide to move on.

  • Work-life balance sometimes requires compromise.

Try to avoid making decisions based purely on money. While it always pays to be aware of your market value and the quality of your total package, sometimes you may have to compromise a little on some of the wider benefits like holiday entitlement, pension payments, or bonuses, if you want to positively affect your overall level of job satisfaction.

That’s not always the case, but key questions to consider should be whether you have flexibility at work? Are you supported when you need it? And what is your current work-life balance like?

  • Think long-term.

No job is completely perfect, so it’s important to think about the bigger picture. Consider the experience you’re gaining, the networks you’re exposed to, and the kudos you get from working where you do. This should all help you understand what to do next.

Is the grass always greener?

The grass is not always greener but if you’re not happy you need to make a change of some kind rather than live with regret.

The decision to move on comes down to knowing what you want and understanding what your employer can offer, so, don’t forget to speak to them and give them the chance to change things.

It could simply be that you’re stuck in a rut and it’s not as bad as it seems once you adopt a more positive approach but, whatever you decide, be confident and don’t be put off by the fear of change because the rewards from finding a job you love can be life-changing.

A company is only as good as the people it keeps and they will ultimately determine its success. In my mind, that makes recruitment the single most important business decision you will ever make and yet I regularly see firms leaving the entire process down to human interpretation.

As an interviewer, your goal is to match the candidate’s ambition, personality, and experience to the requirements of the job and business. The key is being able to tell the great people from the great talkers.

Every interviewer goes into a meeting with the best intentions, hoping to find the ideal person, but, in my experience, the most common mistakes are made when there is a lack of structure and consistency in the process.

One way to avoid this is to plan interviews so all candidates receive the same questions. Eliminating the likelihood of the conversation straying too far from the agenda is a proven way to increase reliability and compare candidates evenly. This will help you to be more accurate in your prediction of future job success.

When interviewing, the best candidates will be well prepared and trying to make a good impression. With their guard up, it’s your job to get under their skin and find out what they’re like.

Build a strong rapport from the start. If candidates trust you, they’ll relax and that will make it easier for you to dig into the detail of their answers and flow into topics they haven’t previously rehearsed.

This not only helps you to get a feel for their communication skills, but it uncovers potentially unseen aspects of their personality and behaviour, which is crucial to making sure they are the right fit for your business.

Try opening with a request for their personal and professional goals; and how they see the role fitting in with these.

Ask them to tell you about a situation that has brought out the best in them; giving examples and sharing the experience they feel makes them ideal for your company. Other behavioural questions could be: What attracted you to this role? What are your motivations? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Whatever you opt for, make sure you ask for details within the answers, as this is the best way to separate people who like to embellish the truth. Liars don’t like to get into specifics as they know they are more likely to get caught out. People telling the truth will be happy to drill deep as they are answering the questions honestly.

Once you’re happy that someone can do the job, move into uncharted waters. Ask about any mistakes they’ve made. This is a great test of self-awareness and will show the scope of which someone is willing to take ownership of their actions; and whether they learn from their errors.

I like to ask who the smartest person they know is (and why). By getting people to explain this you’ll not only find out about their networks, but also the values and personality traits they aspire towards.

Find out what it is that gets them out of bed on a weekend. People’s passions outside of work are critical to fitting in well to any team environment.

Are they entrepreneurial? Examples of innovative ideas they’ve put into practice will help you measure whether they’re a self-starter, commercially-minded, or have a healthy attitude towards calculated risk.

Of course, these are just a few examples to try and help you, but whatever you discuss, don’t forget that interviews are a chance to find out more for both parties. While you aim to work out what makes someone tick, they will most likely be doing the same to you, so make sure you give a good impression of your business.

It’s no coincidence that the most successful companies have strong brand equity and an abundance of great people.
Almost always the result of long-term planning, careful and consistent reputation management, and excellent communication, if you flip this on its head, there is a lot that people climbing the career ladder can learn from the way top brands gain trust and stand out from the crowd.

If you are career ambitious, creating a personal brand that supports your work goals should be part of your development.

Social media offers the best platform to raise your profile and, if you are committed and consistent in your approach, communities like LinkedIn can amplify your voice, build your network, and have a big impact on the way people perceive you.

In a candidate-led job market, it is too easy to lose sight of the importance of this. Skilled people looking for a new challenge are in the driving seat right now. In certain sectors, they have the pick of jobs and can almost be forgiven for getting carried away, but the status quo won’t remain this way forever.

When it comes to looking for your next challenge, if you want to stay respected in your industry, then the key is to remember your long-term goals throughout the recruitment process. To help you navigate this with your reputation intact, here are some things to keep in mind:

Constantly communicate

There is nothing more unsettling than not knowing what is happening during the recruitment process. Even after receiving an offer, if you need time to decide, make sure you keep people updated with your thinking. Silence is deafening. It never leaves a positive impression, regardless of the outcome.

Be decisive

A couple of days to reflect on a job offer is perfectly acceptable but, whatever you do, make a decision. You would be surprised at how many people struggle with this but, if the job is right, you should know fairly quickly whether you want it or not.

Plan for success

You don’t have to take the first job you are offered but, if you are exploring several options, try to organise interviews as close together as possible so, if you get multiple offers, you can manage the decision-making process promptly.

Don’t play games

Avoid playing companies off against each other at all costs. In recruitment, honesty is always the best policy, even if you have two offers or want to attend another interview before committing to a new role. People will understand and respect that, but not if you treat recruitment like a game.

Be responsive

The speed you react with shows a prospective employer how interested you are and also how you are likely to act with their clients and the tasks they set.

Don’t be greedy

Negotiation is part of the process but there is a limit before it turns an employer off. If you want a job but are uncomfortable with the terms, discuss them at the earliest opportunity and be clear about why. I’ve seen many offers withdrawn when an employer doesn’t appreciate the way a negotiation was handled and you risk appearing like money is your only motivation.

In all of this, the important thing to remember is that, whilst good people are in demand, employers want them to be the right people, so you still need to impress from start to finish.

It also helps to remember that the market you are working in is probably smaller than you think, especially in the North East, where people often talk.

How you behave and engage with a prospective employer during the recruitment process and, perhaps more critically, during an offer, is crucial to maintaining your reputation. It reveals a lot about your integrity and character and will leave a lasting impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

In the wake of eighteen difficult months for the recruitment industry, the beginning of the summer saw the market pick up.

Improving business confidence led to a steadily increasing flow of proactive businesses looking for new and permanent recruits.

Due in part to the changing circumstances and priorities for many people, we saw an immediate flurry of market movement, encouraging the positive momentum to endure; so much so that recruitment activity in June was reported to be at an all-time high.

Now, as the final restrictions of the pandemic are removed, there is little sign this newly found aspiration to grow will slow down any time soon, despite candidate availability declining sharply in each of the last four months to reach an all-time low.

Right now, this is the only thing holding businesses back and, as recruiters, we are seeing some worrying signs ahead as the battle for the best talent heats up.

So, what is the answer?

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to a familiar situation. What is clear, however, is that if we want to ensure the economy continues to grow, businesses, the government, and education providers need to be willing to reassess their plans and get behind the creation of a culture that supports training, reskilling, and upskilling of furloughed and prospective workers.

To put this high on the agenda – especially in the long term – better communication between industry and academia is fundamental. The Government, universities and colleges must co-operate with businesses to identify key areas where skilled workers are in short supply.

Positive steps have been made in this regard, with initiatives like Quickstart helping to build bridges, but this alone is not enough. We must take a collective approach if we want to ensure the status quo between candidates and vacancies is healthily balanced.

From the perspective of an employer

Flexibility is going to be important in the coming months and, as we adapted to home working, it is not inconceivable that we could adjust our mindset to see the recruitment of someone who has 75% of the skills you need as a good idea. In many cases, it may even be quicker to train people in the final 25% than to hold out for the perfect person.

Bringing in recruits straight from school, college, or university is another option. While it may not address your needs today, developing the right skill sets within your business will pay off, particularly if you encourage diversity in their experience by rotating people throughout different business departments.

For example, in an accountancy practice, rather than a graduate spending three years training in only audit or tax, why not offer them a programme of six-month secondments across all disciplines so, by the end of their training, they have had a much better exposure of the business and, probably, developed a clearer idea of what it is they enjoy.

In tight job markets, working with recruiters to position your business as a brand of choice is also important. I would say this but, with social media, people have access to many different channels of communication and the way your company is portrayed and how an opportunity is sold to them is crucial.

To be successful, you need to demonstrate what it is that makes you stand out, and that also goes for pre-planning ways to get your company culture across when the interview is via a video link.

The final word

If you take one piece of advice from this article to help with an upcoming piece of recruitment, please make it to act fast.

Taking positive and swift action is the key right now because I can assure you that talented people will get job offers quickly.

If you find the right person be prepared to act as, if they are truly at the top of their game, it won’t be long before one of your competitors snaps them up if you don’t

Permanent recruitment is rising at a record rate according to the latest KPMG and Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) survey.

As pandemic restrictions ease and more industries reopen, there is a mounting belief that the economy will bounce back quickly and that means optimistic businesses are shifting their mindset from consolidation and preservation to target growth.

The survey – compiled from the responses of around 400 UK recruitment agencies, of which I am one – showed that, in May and June, demand for new workers increased at the fastest rate in 23 years.

Record demand

The upturn followed an increase in April, at which time we were unsure if employers were simply recruiting to catch up from the previous 12 months of low activity or we could see new momentum building in the market.

Two months on and the improvement shows no signs of slowing down with, rather pleasingly, the North of England leading the way nationally and boasting the steepest increase in permanent appointments in IT, Computing, and the Hospitality sector. The accountancy market is also one of the busiest I have seen in the last twenty years.

Low availability

Here comes the ‘but’. While demand for good people is at an all-time high, their availability is at an all-time low. Mapped over the same timeframe, the number of workers looking for a new job dropped at the quickest rate for four years. Seeing the same pattern across a myriad of industries, the decline is linked to the furlough of staff, fewer EU candidates, and, of course, uncertainty following the pandemic.

Increased starting salaries

In a candidate-driven market, mixed with a refreshing air of private-sector business confidence, supply is outstripping demand and that means starting salaries are inevitably on the up.

In the North East, for now, they are just about holding up, but we have seen some outrageous salaries offered elsewhere in the country. Taking a London-based job but working from home (anywhere in the UK) can lead to astronomical increases for some, although I believe many national companies are working to address how they regionalise salaries when they have a remote workforce.

The challenge for recruitment

The challenge as a recruiter and an employer is to keep up with demand and always attract the right talent. Staff availability has declined immeasurably, and in part, because those willing to risk moving in the pandemic have already done so earlier in the year.

Positively in our region, I know there are a lot of people who are what I would call ‘window shopping’ right now. They are waiting in the wings and keeping an eye out for something special that grabs their attention.

There is no doubt that the flexibility to work from home and attend the office on their terms is playing a big part in decision making. As is having the flexibility to shape their hours so they can continue with the lifestyle they have built throughout COVID.

How can recruitment help?

By no means the hero, but the recruitment industry has continued to play a role in helping to keep vital services running smoothly throughout the pandemic. Now, it is playing a part in helping displaced workers find new jobs, and supporting companies as they adapt working patterns and prepare for the easing of restrictions.

This is why I couldn’t agree more with the deputy CEO of the REC, Kate Shoesmith’s, assessment of how businesses, recruiters and government need to work together to address the skills gap before it slows down our recovery.

The trends are worrying and we need to urgently address the skills gap together, supporting people to train, reskill and upskill so they can progress their careers and move into new roles.

According to Gallup, the number of people working full-time who are highly engaged and enthusiastic about their work is 15%. Pulling data from 155 countries, their 2017 research reveals a huge obstacle to creating high-performing teams while, at the same time, presenting an enormous opportunity due to the top 25% of companies also being 17% more productive and 21% more profitable.

And then along came COVID.

Bringing with it one of the greatest economic challenges of our time, the pandemic flipped the world on its head. It forced businesses to change overnight, to re-evaluate how they work and, in many cases, what they stand for.
When you think about it, it is all very sobering but, from my perspective, the big positive to come out of the chaos is that the importance of company culture as a key to long-term success is firmly back in the spotlight.

The culture of a business defines the working environment for employees and helps to guide their decision-making. It is the personality of an organisation and, regardless of the corporate values you have written down, is made up of the most commonly shared beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours in your team.

As we all look forward to the return of business growth, I urge you to take inspiration from many of the world’s most successful companies when recruiting and explore the merits of value-based interviews as part of your process.

While competency to do the job is still important, being able to understand a person’s motivation is the only way you can hope to determine whether they will fit well within a team and go on to thrive.

During the interview process, you must provide an opportunity for candidates to showcase their character. If done well, this will help you to understand whether their priorities match your goals and what it is that drives their behaviour.

Your mission is to find the perfect person, but the best candidates will always be well prepared and ready to make a good impression. With their guard up, it is your job to get under their skin. If people trust you, they will relax and make it easier for the conversation to flow into topics they have not rehearsed.

For many years, Timpson – the shoe repair business – has recruited entirely on personality. Priding themselves on great service, the outcome of an interview is the direct result of the cultural match of the Mr Men character your personality most resembles. It may sound crazy, but they live by this rule, meaning you can turn up with the best CV in the world but if they think your ‘Mr Grumpy’, your journey will end there.

While Mr Men may not be right for you, uncovering unseen aspects of people’s personality and behaviour during an interview is crucial to making the right choice, so try opening with a request for their personal and professional goals; and how they see the role fitting in with these.

Ask them to tell you about a situation that has brought out the best in them; giving examples of why they feel that makes them ideal for your company.

I like to find out who the smartest person they know is (and why). By getting people to explain this you will not only find out about their networks, but also the values and personality traits they aspire towards.

These are just examples. You will need to develop a series of questions that match your specific values but, whatever you end up with, try to remember that every interview is also a chance to find out more for both parties.

While you aim to work out what makes someone tick, they will most likely be doing the same to you, so make sure you do not forget to give a good impression of your business and the way it operates.

Even before the pandemic, the typical Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm working pattern had become outdated.

Advances in technology have long supported an always-on culture, with the pursuit of “work-life balance” replaced, for many, by a “work-life integration” revolving around 24-7 access to emails and notifications on your phone or tablet.

Fast-forward (if only we could have!) through fourteen months of lockdown, furlough and working from home. Our adoption of productivity apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams has accelerated to the point where some people have gone as far as to hail this as the death for the office.

Sure, the workplace needs to change because, to some extent, we have all changed but, even after the biggest employment experiment of all time demonstrated that remote working works, we need to think carefully about whether it is the permanent solution.

On the face of it, it appears to be the ideal scenario. Losing office costs and overheads will make huge financial savings after what has been a very challenging time.

Staff have also revelled in an extra hour in bed instead of suffering the daily commute and the opportunity to spend more time with family is not something people want to give up easily.

Despite this, I suggest that business leaders considering their next step approach it with caution. Try to remember that most people have a fundamental desire to be part of a community, as it is the lack of being able to create and sustain a positive company culture remotely that worries me most.

While a virtual culture undoubtedly has benefits – flexibility, trust, increased autonomy – the reason many companies were able to transition seamlessly to a remote working model was that their teams already had a sense of comradery.

They had been in close proximity with one another for a reasonable period before having to work from home and the resulting bond – and shared values – helped to make it a success.

Now, after a year of working apart, research from Gallup suggests that employees are 7% less likely to see their connection to the company’s mission than at the start of COVID. This means that the cultural connection is slowly diminishing and, ultimately, that means productivity will soon follow.

As business leaders ponder how they are going to reinvent the way we work, the challenge they have is to come up with a flexible model that works for us all. It can no longer be about offering a one-size-fits-all solution.

We need to discover a way to get back to work, but not in the way it used to be. We need to be better at being accommodating people’s needs because working from home has shone a bright light on the benefits of being in a comfortable environment and this is something the office will need to reflect; to offer employees the best of both worlds.

As well as the culture, many benefits will also come from being back together, not least creativity and innovation, which undoubtedly increase when people exchange ideas and collaborate. Even an overheard conversation can spark a moment of ingenuity; something that simply would not occur virtually.

In summary, whatever happens, I hope businesses don’t make quick decisions and they allow their teams the opportunity to help them shape when and how people go back into the office.

As social creatures, we all crave connections and while helping to build a strong culture, perhaps the office will also be redefined as a place constructed purely for interaction, where people go once or twice a week to meet and brainstorm ideas.

By allowing people the flexibility and trust to have control of the way they work, as much as possible, whatever the outcome, you stand to gain the benefits of both ways of working, as well as demonstrating understanding and empathy for your team – something the value of which should never be underestimated.