In the latest edition of CasinoBeats 100 Club, and following the UK announcement of ‘Freedom Day’ being delayed by four weeks, we decided to delve into the eyes of the employees to look at their perspectives on office working and what to expect in a post-COVID environment.
How have companies enhanced their workplace offices to adapt in a post-COVID environment?
How have employees changed their perspective about office working and is it sustainable?
One of our members, Simon Thomas, CEO at Hippodrome Casino, noted that companies throughout the industry, including Hippodrome, have ‘spaced people out’ when returning to the office, yet in general told most to remain working from home.
On the sustainability from working from home Thomas was emphatic in stating it was not sustainable. He explained: “Companies benefit from people being together, networking, mentoring, being creative and effective. If you don’t need to be in the office, then your job can easily be offshored.”
Helen Walton, CCO at Glück Games, gave insight from her company’s perspective, highlighting that Glück has ‘always been a company with a work where and when you want policy’.
She commented: “Some people, of course, prefer to work with others face-to-face and so we have small shared workspaces organised in hubs for those who prefer that – London and Bilbao mostly. That part hasn’t changed.
“When we want to bring people together for a strategy day or to kick off a project, we might hire a room, but the majority of our meetings have always been and will continue to be digital ones.
“We’ve always tried hard to invest in the tools that enable: 1) a sense of presence (so people don’t feel isolated) and 2) communication tools that enable people to share information easily and thus make better quality decisions.”
Addressing the sustainability of working from home, Walton noted her company’s stance of working from home pre-pandemic, but highlighted the importance for employee preferences.
“Again, one of the great attractions about our company has always been that employees can work from home as much as they want – to that extent, I expect our company to remain majority remote,” added Walton. “But, there is a noticeable difference between those who might find it easy to return to office working fairly regularly versus those who don’t – those who might want to come in, but feel they can’t, often feel far more excluded.
“Finding ways to mitigate that with retreats, strategy days or simply making sure that communication remains open and avoids mini ‘office cliques’ forming, is essential to keep people feeling part of the team.
“For our accounts and sales teams – who have really missed face-to-face time with customers – I know they are raring to get back on the road. I also wonder, however, if more employers will cast a sceptical eye on the travel and entertainment budget, and ask if it really delivers the ROI sales and customer teams have always insisted it does.”
Roderick Spiteri of Betsson Group stated that some companies throughout the gambling sector have enhanced their workplace offices to adapt to the needs of employees in a post pandemic world, yet others are ‘stuck in their old ways’.
Yet, Spiteri pinpointed that employees have always wanted ‘flexibility’ for quite some time, an advantage which working from home has provided. He continued: “What happened in 2020 showed that this works – and it not only works – but it actually works better than when people are at the office.”
Over the last year, the industry has had to adapt with companies evolving the way it conducts business. Fiona Hickey, head of sales at Push Gaming, emphasised this point, claiming the gambling sector is ‘ever-changing and adaptable’ and praised how well firms have adapted well to the COVID situation, yet expressed her uncertainty if companies have enhanced its workplace offices.
She commented: “It is very difficult for the larger organisations to manage people coming into offices on different days, hot-desking, and keeping safe distances between team members during meetings.
“As an industry, we are known for having quite cool, modern, silicon valley style offices, and COVID has impacted that significantly, so personally I don’t believe workplaces have been enhanced.”
When addressing sustainability within working from home and employees perspective to office working, Hickey claimed this was the area where she felt the industry had made ‘the most progress’ over the past 18 months – whether it be moving to a fully remote option or limiting the days that staff need in the office.
She concluded: “This is absolutely sustainable and here to stay in my opinion. The companies that are most flexible will also benefit in the long term, as they will attract and retain top talent, as our industry matures, flexibility is one of the top things candidates look for when moving employers.
“Speaking from personal experience, we have managed to make some amazing hires from some of the best organisations in the space, and the reason we were able to do this was due to our remote policy on work. This is one of the best things to come out of COVID and I’m proud our industry has embraced it.”
Launched in 2019 to give a voice to the industry on a range of key issues, the CasinoBeats 100 Club tackles the tricky questions and shares members’ views across the CasinoBeats network. Have your say by joining the 100 Club.