What do you do if you are a company that organises mass gatherings during a global pandemic? Look to your culture and values to come out stronger
There is a lot being written about changes in working practices. The Death of London, the Death of the Office, the Death of the 5-day week. To summarise the current coverage, the Death of Nuance may be the more fitting headline.
The scale of the changes we are seeing is not over-stated. They have affected every one of us. However, any statement of the universality of the impact on companies is a risky oversimplification.
That is why we have spent the last 6 months looking forensically at what fosters the culture of Threshold Sports. The responses from our team combined with wide-ranging research into future expectations of work has led us to make a significant move for the business.
We’re moving to a city that allows us to better live our values and purpose
We’re moving to a city that allows us to better live our values and purpose. Our team is unified by a love of the great outdoors. Last year we delivered breath-taking challenges for 35,000 participants from Land’s End to John O’Groats and in landscapes ranging from the moonscapes of Iceland to the snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro.
Lockdown showed how much we value time to spend on our own physical and mental wellbeing. It also showed how we (almost) universally dislike commuting. Historically we have based our team in the middle of the biggest city in Western Europe where workers have the highest average commuting time in the UK. This worked pre-COVID, but we believed that if we simply pivoted to a pre-dominantly remote working model we would risk the slow death of the culture that has been the engine of the business for the last decade.
This was backed up by our internal surveys which showed remote working, whilst productive, was undermining what we believe are key ingredients of engagement.
We asked the team to identify what they value most in their working life
We surveyed the team repeatedly during lockdown with a series of specific surveys and also compared historical data from bi-monthly engagement surveys. The response to what people wanted was far more consistent than we thought and often at odds with the trends highlighted in the media.
1. We want a thriving office: It is key to collaboration, development, support, and innovation
Despite the value of focussed time away from the office for specific projects, 86% of the team said we needed to be in an office.
Furthermore, the majority of the team said they’d like to be in the office 4 days a week if they had a short commute.
For many organisations it may not be necessary to have an office. For us, we believe it is central to our identity and key to the bonds and career development that make Threshold rewarding to work for. We decided a remote led business wasn’t going to be right for us. We wanted an office hub that would attract, retain, inspire, and develop talent at all levels.
2. We want to minimise commuting: It will significantly increase wellbeing
When people talked about the benefits of remote working, over 90% of the responses listed benefits of not commuting as opposed to the benefits of being away from an office. Commuting steals a massive proportion of people’s personal time each day, it is expensive and currently, it even feels dangerous.
The average London commute is 1h 21m a day with the majority on public transport.
We have increased our flexible working options. However, we also decided we wanted the office in a city with shorter average commuting times, lots of options to encourage active travel, and a high-quality local talent pool to recruit from.
We know a fit and healthy workforce is a productive and engaged one. We have a whole series of benefits linked to this, but we are now looking for our office location to be a key enabler of this.
3. We want a lower cost of living: It supports our commitment to increasing diversity
London is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. The mass participation events industry doesn’t pay City salaries and as a consequence the pressure on incomes is high. At each level of the business, we have people under financial pressure from graduates struggling with rent, first-time buyers looking to get a foot on the property ladder, or families looking for more space without having to commute in an hour a day from the suburbs.
By moving to a city where living is more affordable, we hope to be able to attract and retain a more diverse workforce at all levels which we know is good for business.
4. We want access to the Great British Outdoors: It allows us to do more of what we love
Our events are about getting into the fresh air. Our team loves trail running, cycling on traffic-free roads, swimming in open water, and embracing the wonderful arena of nature. London has some of the best sports facilities in the country. However, mother nature’s open spaces tend to kick the ass of even the best swimming pool or City park.
We wanted to allow our team to get into the places they love more often and more easily than they do now. Not only to improve their wellbeing but also to inspire us with ideas for our own events.
Brighton: The new home of Threshold Sports
After looking at multiple options we are excited to announce that we are moving our office to Brighton as of January 2021. There was no competition for somewhere that balanced all of the key ingredients.
We retain easy access to our clients
Contrary to some headlines we don’t think London is dead. In fact, we think it is going to remain a critical hub for many of our finance, legal, and multi-national clients. That is why we chose a city that has hundreds of trains running back and forth each day to allow us to be back face to face with clients any time they want us there.
We will be based in an active city
Brighton is uniquely sandwiched between the South Downs National Park and the sea. On any day you can expect to see people swimming, sailing, kitesurfing, running, mountain or gravel biking, jogging, walking, doing yoga, or one of the countless other activities to help improve one’s physical and mental health.
For a company that preaches the values of a healthy mind and body for both personal and business wellbeing, it seems right to be based in the UK’s fittest city.
We believe in the importance of highly engaged, closely bonded, and healthy teams; we will be inviting our clients to experience it for themselves
We want to show people the impact of a healthy and engaged workforce, and we also want to invite them to be part of this new work style any time they want.
The move to remote working means people are going to need moments of real human connection more than ever. Our events have shown for over a decade the strength of bonds that can be forged outside of a boardroom or a Zoom call.
If a client or friend of Threshold needs a break from the screens, then they can come and spend the day working from our office and we’ll get out on the paddleboards or stride out along the beach to share some ideas or offload some problems.
It is going to be hard saying goodbye to so many pals, pubs, and parks in London. However, we have come through the biggest challenge we have faced as a business and are confident of emerging stronger in a new setting.
We’ll let you know when we’re settled in the new year, although you may want to wait a couple of months for the first dip in the sea…
To find out more about working with or for Threshold, please do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Tuppen, CEO