The Group is making a significant investment in ensuring its offices are “Covid-ready” and its field-based staff have suitable protection when they return to normal working patterns. The plan includes a phased return to the office environment, transitioning through a period of working from home until it is deemed appropriate to move back into the office. Extra precautions are being put in place to ensure GAS is ready to ease its people back into working life in the safest manner possible.
The procedures will be in position for everyone at the Group’s Seaham office until they move into the brand new, state-of-the-art headquarters due to open its doors later in the year. The business has agreed a new lease to double its office space with immediate effect by occupying the second floor of current premises Spectrum 6, which will allow Covid-compliant distances between desks and a range of new options to reduce contact.
This will take the capacity at headquarters to 400, allowing the resumption of the business’ recruitment drive. The safety plans for the new and existing office spaces go beyond best practice guidelines and will be installed courtesy of further investment in the current premises to allow safe use of meeting rooms, break rooms and facilities. There has also been further investment in remote working solutions, which will be rolled out across the Group’s UK-wide Field Division, including suitable PPE.
Brad Groves, Chief Executive of GAS, prioritised the project as he welcomed the leadership team back into the workplace this week. He said: “The number one priority for GAS at this time is allowing us to get as close to normal operation as we can without a risk to our staff through the transmission of the virus.
“We have been guided by a safety-first mindset throughout the pandemic and executed a successful transition to home working in March, in line with the government’s guidance. We have continued to follow this and have re-evaluated our position regularly.
“We furloughed the majority of our workforce at the end of March and have provided everyone with 100 per cent of their salary since, above the 80 per cent provided through the government’s scheme. Again, this was a decision taken with the wellbeing of our staff in mind to reduce the mental burden they will have experienced since the pandemic forced the country to grind to a halt. We provided financial advice and wellbeing support at the start of the transition and have communicated regularly through our management since lockdown.
“A dedicated team of staff have continued to work diligently throughout the external crisis to provide support to our customers, partners and suppliers. GAS has proven a valuable partner to many businesses over the last few months and has a crucial role to play as we enter a period where cost savings are more important than ever.
“The business model has shown resilience to the stress on the economy and we are confident that the Group will emerge from the lockdown in a position to achieve further success.
“The exciting plans we had in place before Covid-19 are still going ahead. “We are still investing millions of pounds in creating one of the finest examples of an office environment in the country for our new headquarters and still plan to expand our considerable staff benefits package even further. We will have more information to release on this shortly.
“We will be recruiting again very soon as we look to sustain our growth journey and hit our headcount targets this year.
“Our Wealth Creation and Employee Share Ownership Scheme will still be rolled out this year, which is again one-of-a-kind in the country.
“Despite the challenges everyone in business will be facing in coming months, it remains an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the GAS family as we look to do things that our sector and our region have never seen.
“Throughout all of this, our main priority will continue to be the safety of our staff. This is exemplified in the extra investment in the second floor of Spectrum 6 and the other measures we are planning to introduce.
“I am looking forward to seeing everyone back in the workplace soon, when the time is right.”