Changing our way of work at CIRM
by Frances Baskerville, Secretary-General, CIRM
The ritual of arriving at the office and heading for the kitchen to gather a mug of tea and settle with colleagues is not happening at CIRM. We’ve gone GREEN in the maximum! All of us are at home, no one is travelling; we have moved all our kit to our respective homes and we are going to stay like this.
This change to our working practice was actually made long before COVID 19 struck, as we collectively realized that the commuting to London was taking its toll in more ways than one, in the form of tiredness and the odd viral illness too. So, we were comfortably trialing homeworking when our esteemed (!) UK government forced the situation. It became official – we were to work from home and, a few months later, having been nowhere near the office for months, we have handed in our notice. I tentatively wrote to our Board of Directors to seek permission to terminate the rental lease and thus save money. They were unanimous with their positive answer.
This, for us and for CIRM, is really great progress. With no commute, life is very much easier and stress levels associated with no trains to deal with, London Underground service disruption and no more being sneezed over, means for a happy team!
We are luckier than some we know. The London address we have held for some years will be retained as our registered office and we’ll still get to use the existing facilities (meeting rooms etc) on an ad hoc basis. The Marine Society and Sea Cadets https://www.ms-sc.org/ are fabulous landlords. They understand that not for profit organizations like ours cannot be seen to be under-utilizing our resources. (Incidentally, if you are looking for London office space, you could do a lot worse – central London and right behind the International Maritime Organization and just right for all those maritime meetings throughout the year (although not at the moment).
Staff morale is high. Everyone is settled and happy – it’s the truth! We are set up to speak each day with our coffee in hand, able to see what we are wearing, catch up on the weekend’s antics and then get down to the matter in hand. I think that the key here is that we are not of, let us say, the younger generation. I keep hearing that they must be led, incentivized, watched etc. We already have the push to work hard. We have to be responsible and deliver, trust in integrity, recognise the spirit in which this is being done and collectively aim for success. No-one is taking advantage and importantly, the membership has not seen any change in output or quality of work. If anything, output has increased!
Virtual meetings: we’ve tried almost every app out there and no one is better than another although certain people vehemently exclaim that this is better than that. I am told that security-wise WeBex (yes, old Webex) and Microsoft Teams are by far superior to the rest – but don’t shoot me down in flames! I’m simply passing on information from the highest cyber threat specialists available to me in our business! Everyone is tired of meeting online it seems. To that end, CIRM has just asked its membership their opinion on how to hold our conference in April next year – remote or physical? I can always trust our members to send me truthful replies …
“I am really fed up with all this remote stuff”
“Meeting people face to face is always better then virtually”
“I’d prefer to wait and see if a physical meeting is possible. Forever the optimist…”
“I’m getting well fed up with Zoom, Teams, etc., etc.!!”
“Just in the middle of a virtual sales conference and it’s a bit tough!”
One thing that the membership retains throughout all times of change is a sense of humour. We see it regularly in our inboxes. I believe its because we are a ‘family’ where individuals feel secure enough to speak as they feel. And adding a bit of humour always helps! Viz…
“Since I joined this industry late 2011, I think CIRM is a much more professional organization, and of course recognize that all the hard day-to-day work and achievements are due to the effort of the CIRM management team, which should be adequately honored.
I am sorry I could not be part of the dinner and the last minute cancellation (due to a very large glass of champagne, if not a bottle ?), but an extremely important customer meeting / dinner took priority (business must go on, I am sure you understand).”
We are a pretty special bunch and not seeing anyone this year has saddened me but only heightened my enthusiasm to get us together for a truly memorable experience when we DO manage it! I can’t really describe the CIRM conferences to anyone who hasn’t already attended one. Our sector is not known for its creative, artistic and enthralling igniting of the senses, but I can honestly say that if anyone gets close, it would be us after a hard conference day, when we are known to burn the night out completely. Something to do with familiarity and being part of a family I guess. We’re not getting together for a while it would seem, but when we do …. Meanwhile, stay safe everyone!