ON Architecture designs new ways of working

Building on the experience of the last year, Kent-based ON Architecture is to now operate seven day a week to support its clients and ensure the maximum flexibility of working and wellbeing of its 40 staff.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the latest lockdown, ON Architecture’s directors arranged a staff consultation to discuss the new situation and decide how the organisation will follow the latest Covid-19 safety guidance.

Following the consultation, the firm, with offices in Canterbury and Clerkenwell, will now offer staff the opportunity to do their core working hours between 6am and 9pm, seven days a week, in line with staff requests. The hours can be split between their home and office dependent upon the needs of their specific projects and in line with staff requests  

Like many businesses ON Architecture has taken independent expert advice and put in place a comprehensive range of measures to ensure it complies with Government guidelines. As a result it has managed to keep its offices open to support the construction industry.

Unlike many in its industry, ON Architecture has not had to make any of its team redundant during the pandemic, with only a small number of staff placed on furlough all of whom have now returned to work.

David Weir, Director of ON Architecture, added: “Since the first lockdown back in March last year, we have worked closely with our staff to offer a flexible and protective working environment.

“However, for many people working from home is not practical due to individual circumstances, such as the working environment and issues of health and safety, data protection and information technology.

“The technical nature of our work for the construction industry, which can require access to large scale printers and scanners, means it is often not practical to work on a project at a kitchen table on a laptop. As a result we need to be as flexible as possible and balance working from home while providing a Covid safe open office.”

After working with staff on a case-by-case basis with anyone with underlying health issues or specific pressures, such as childcare and home schooling, travel to work times, and challenge of home working, the business is now changing how it operates.

Luke Harrison, Director of ON Architecture, said: “By extending our opening hours we will be able to reduce even further the number of people in our offices at any one time. This will improve our Covid security while maintaining the quality of our customer service and design.”

Since emerging from the first lockdown, both the firm’s studios have seen an increased level of demand for their design and technical support as an integral part of the construction industry supply chain.

Luke Harrison added: “We are doing everything we can to protect our team’s health and safety – as well as their collective mental wellbeing – while remaining flexible and focused on how we continue to provide high quality design and technical architectural support for the industry.

“We also recognise our contractual and ISO quality assurance obligations and the need to maintain industry standards. This has required us to keep our offices partially open in line with national guidelines, with homeworking where possible.”

The proposed changes are for the period of the pandemic and the firm is confident this will lead to long-term improved productivity and wellbeing.

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