All of us have felt the impact of the pandemic, especially businesses who are on either ends of the spectrum; climbing or crumbling. Some businesses have only now been exploring how to manage a remote workforce while others have had home working baked into their HR strategy for some time. Given the disparity between these businesses and the output of their employees, is there a winning strategy to keep the current UK workforce just as productive as before Covid-19 shook up our world?

This session was hosted by Wellity Global CEO and co-founder of GBWWA, Simon Scott-Nelson and moderated by Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards’ Jonathan Davies.


  • Simon Scott-Nelson, Wellity Global

  • Tamara McMillen, HG Capital

  • Pete Evans, Sales Star

  • Alison Edgar, Sales Coaching Solutions

  • Chris Duddridge, Soroco

  • James Sharples, Chelmsford City Race Course

  • Jonathan Davies, Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards

Defining performance

Performance is hard to define in the modern-day workplace, as it depends on a variety of factors, including individual wellbeing, the work environment and the workload itself. With so many different elements at play, the panel debated how managers could set expectations early on. 

“We’ve instilled a new culture accidentally where people seem to be happy working from home and are reluctant coming back to the office and would find any excuse not to!”

James Sharples, Chelmsford City Race Course 

A lot of people have become accustomed to the work-from-home lifestyle, and in many cases, expectations of output didn’t change to keep pace. This has led to an increase in burnout and blurred boundaries between the personal and professional.  

This is where managers can step up as leaders and re-examine goals and output. “If they are working from home and are slightly more productive, keep them at home and let them do it,” says Chelmsford City Race Course’s James Sharples. While extensive periods of lockdowns have allowed for people to truly adapt and increase their productivity at home, is it really on par to the office?

How has working from home affected business performance?

James also says his company is suffering from a “recruitment crisis” as temporary workers return to their old jobs. From James’ perspective, it may seem like some businesses might even suffer more now that the lockdown is behind us.

Pete Evans of Sales Star notes how COVID-19 added to his team’s admin tasks. “There’s an acceptance at board level that they have to treat the salespeople differently and how they motivate them,” he says. “What we’ve heard from salespeople is that they have to get out to see their customers, but when you call people up to meet they just ask ‘why?’”.

“We’re probably going to move to a hybrid model, some organisations are going to have to find a different way of measuring performance.”

Pete Evans, Sales Star

The hybrid model, for many businesses, was adopted without much thought. Now is the time to explore what is really needed if your team is working from home full or part-time. What are the job requirements and how can they be met?

“Do we need our long (online) calls to cover something you’d be able to cover in a quick chat, a coffee or walking for lunch? I think that’s something that’ll really ease us back into the performance levels we need,” says Soroco’s Chris Duddridge. 

A lot of employee motivation and collaboration is lost simply due to the lack of in-person interaction.  What could act as an impromptu business meeting at the lunch table has turned into a whole ordeal of scheduled Zoom calls and webcam sessions that leave many tapped out.  

How can we find the balance between performance and wellbeing?

“The best answer I think we’ve come up with is let data help inform how you reconstruct,” says HG Capital’s Tamara McMillen. Instead of an immediate shift in business model, companies should look at the data to choose what’s right for them. “I think data has to help inform the decisions that we make because at the end of the day we have to stay afloat,” she says, though she considers that asking employees is equally important.

Finding a balance between wellbeing and work, Tamara found a compromise that made employees feel heard, but also took into consideration the wellbeing of not just the workers but the business itself. “The answers to the questions that we ask about how they want to work and where they want to work are largely dependent on their life cycle stage, their age, their income and their distance from the office.” Tamara found that younger employees living in London would want to get out of their flats and head to the office, while those with families found it a lot better to simply do their work at home.

How should we reward performance?

With the distractions and disruptions of not only lockdown but working from home, Simon Scott-Nelson asks how we should reward performance. Alison Edgar from Sales Coaching Solutions says that she makes sure to give her team the skills needed and then ‘sets them free’. “They stay with me until they get the skills, then like little birdies I encourage them to see the world.”

“I encourage my team to leave.”

Alison Edgar, Sales Coaching Solutions

Another way Alison rewards her employees for their productivity has been simply hiring them in these tough times. “When everybody else was getting made redundant or furloughed I’m recruiting in,” she says. Rewarding your employees can be important and in the situation of a pandemic simply bringing someone on in such tough times can be a reward itself in exchange for hard work.

Bringing people back to work 

“Is it correct to say, ‘come on now this is what we were doing before, this is what you were doing in February’? I would argue, possibly not,” adds Wellity’s Simon. He discusses the difficulty someone might face from such a harsh transition and if it’s right to bring them back after they might just be getting adjusted to working from home.

Tamara says, “I have a friend who is a CFO, he’s definitely an ‘in the office’ guy who  found himself working from home. He thought he’d hate it but ended up really enjoying it.” This experience led him and many others to realise that even if an employee is at home they’re perfectly capable of being productive. Perhaps it’s not the right thing to do to tear someone away from an environment to which they’ve only just become adjusted, the panel questioned.

Are we going through a digital revolution?

“Of course we are,” says Simon. The great amount of changes make it obvious to anyone that the workplace and our lives in general have undergone a significant change. “People going back to the workplace will see it as regressing,” continues Simon, asking Jonathan Davies from the GBEA for his take. “We’ve been able to adapt really well, but there’s not that opportunity for businesses’ like James’.”. 

“I don’t think there’s a lot of people that are going to talk about going back, it’s not possible.”

Tamara McMillen

The huge shift will most likely have a lasting impact on every business. How they’ve adapted and whether or not that will show to be effective remains to be seen in the post-lockdown period. The panel seems confident though that we’ll all be seeing its effects for years to come.

Watch the highlights of the round table in the video above or check out our YouTube channel for more.