Continuing a flexible culture after Covid-19 is imperative

As many countries across the world focus on emerging from lockdown, a leading auditing and accountancy firm believes it’s an ideal time for businesses to reflect on the past three months and embrace the positives which have arisen.

 Grant Thornton Isle of Man was among those who instigated changes in working practices enforced by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Indeed, more than 90 per cent of its employees worldwide were working remotely by the end of March.

 With the majority of restrictions now lifted in the Island, the company feels many of the recent developments and experiences should be used to benefit businesses in the future.

 Claire Watterson, who heads up the insolvency, restructuring and asset recovery department for GT IoM, explained: ‘There is no doubt the past three months have been a testing time with Covid-19 throwing many elements of the working world into flux.

 ‘Due to the leadership of the Isle of Man Government, we are fortunately in a position in the Island where we can now return to our offices.

‘However, a number of positive changes have emerged from the experience and, as businesses, we need to remember what we have learned during this time and consider adopting certain aspects going forward.

 ‘For example, a number of firms who may not have previously entertained flexible working arrangements, were forced to into utilising technology to allow them to continue to operate throughout this period and, in many cases, this was a big success.’

 Claire says with the potential of a second wave worldwide, there remains uncertainty about the future of the pandemic and Grant Thornton is well placed to adapt.

‘So many opportunities have been brought about by Covid-19 and we have seen professionals deliver quality work from home so we shouldn’t lose that flexibility we have gained,’ she added.

 ‘Just as this experience has shown that productivity can survive and that meetings and catch-ups can happen virtually, nor should we allow the situation to push us back in other ways.’

 Along with Lisa Lord and Lyndsay Brew, Claire is one of three female associate directors at the Athol Street-based firm and recently returned from maternity leave.

 She says the forward-thinking ethos of Grant Thornton, promoting flexible working practices in a fully inclusive manner, allows employees to progress to the top of the career ladder.

 ‘One of the reasons I decided to move to Grant Thornton was the opportunity to join a respected organisation where gender is not a barrier and where flexibility and understanding of individual circumstances is seen as a priority across its network of member firms,’ explained Claire.

 ‘What the last few months has proved is how supportive it continues to be. My job can be increasingly complex and having the flexibility to work around childcare, particularly as it has recently been a scarce resource, has been hugely beneficial and allows me to work outside the traditional 9-5 mentality.

 ‘That also allows me fulfil my roles, both professionally and personally to the best of my abilities. The importance of a supportive culture and gender balance across business is invaluable.’

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