Two very different approaches to tackling the same issue, from two hotel groups.
As cities and towns across the UK and most noticeably London remain sparsely populated, this alongside also zero international tourism is hindering any meaningful return to hospitality.
Hospitality businesses across the UK at the same time are having to more than ever keep a close eye on employee wellbeing. These turbulent times are having a negative impact on almost all people who work in hospitality.
As Covid-19 cases are once again on the rise this of course translates to less movement of people and public transport, like city centres can be seen almost empty when normally they would be full.
So, what do you do to tackle both issues, and do your bit to help. It is a difficult conundrum to try and balance.
Two hotel groups are at polar opposites of the predicament.
OYO Hotels – ‘Work from Anywhere’
OYO Hotels have focused on employee wellbeing announcing their ‘Work from Anywhere’ initiative for its UK team members today.
Its employees are mostly based in central offices and not at hotels. OYO UK employees have been working from home since late March in line with government guidance, but prior to that, its UK workforce was spread across a number of regional hub offices as well as having a substantial proportion of field-based team members.
The UK team works closely with colleagues based across other countries including Spain and India, so ultimately, remote collaboration, cloud-based services and tech-enabled communications have always been part of the company’s fabric. Through enhanced technology processes and platforms introduced since spring, OYO has even managed to continue onboarding new partners, roll out new hygiene-focused operating procedures to its hotels and audit properties via remote means during the pandemic.
“The past few months have shown us that employee productivity and efficiency is driven by more than just actual physical presence, so with the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues in mind, we are pleased to introduce the ‘Work from Anywhere’ initiative to suit the evolving needs of the team,” commented Dan Godfrey, VP of HR for OYO UK and Europe. “We recognise that a conducive working environment is not the same for every individual, so as well as offering the choice on where to work, we are providing tips and tools for our team members to create their own inspiring workspace.”
Employees, known as ‘OYOpreneurs’, will be given the choice to work from home, to work from OYO’s hub office in London, or choose another solution that works well for them, which might include basing themselves at a public space such as a library or cafe. OYO will support with initial set-up costs up to the value of £100, which could be used to buy a new chair, a headset, back support, wrist rest – even a plant or picture to make desk spaces more comfortable and inviting.
“Flexibility is key to the ‘Work from Anywhere’ initiative, so we are not setting a policy on where our colleagues must work or asking them to declare their long-term intentions,” said Rishabh Gupta, head of OYO UK and Europe. “Some may wish to conduct important meetings or zoom calls from an office environment but work from home on other days to fit around childcare. We are offering OYOpreneurs complete freedom to make choices and change their minds as they go.”
Since OYOpreneurs began working from home, OYO has encouraged flexible working patterns and has communicated the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance when work and home life have been more integrated than ever before. OYO has provided advice on everything from balancing the working day when working with a global team to the correct seating posture and desk-based stretching exercises, particularly in consideration of home-based workers without an ergonomic office set-up.
Furthermore, OYO is encouraging its team members to consider their physical and mental wellbeing by finding their passion and practicing it and the company will contribute £30 per month towards any hobby or interest they decide to pursue outside of work. This could be put towards a gym membership, a cookery class or an online language course, for instance.
The ‘Work from Anywhere’ initiative was formally announced to OYO UK employees at the start of September although initiatives have been building over the last five months. Once they have taken advantage of the company subsidy to enhance their workspace, employees are being encouraged to share images of their unique, inspiring workspaces on social media using #OYO-InspiringSpace.
YOTEL – Encouraging and discounting for commuters to stay in London
YOTEL London has reacted differently, in fact a full 180 degrees differently having today announced a £30 commuter rate. The room rate is less expensive than the average cost of a daily commute and is designed to support workers returning to London that are anxious about using public transport every day.
Having calculated the cost of a Daily Peak Return Rail Ticket from 15 of the top commuter towns into London, commuters spend an average £32.83 per day on travel.
Before lockdown, millions of people commuted into London from neighbouring counties every day, but latest card taps on the London Underground shows only around a third of their level a year ago.
A recent survey also showed that 88% of people polled would not be comfortable commuting to work on public transport, despite the UK Government encouraging people back into London to help boost the economy.
With the recent increase of Covid-19 cases in the UK, coupled with today’s announcement around tougher social distancing laws, it is expected that people will be even more nervous about commuting.
Guillermo Gomez, General Manager of YOTEL London, said: “Now that summer is almost over and kids are back at school, we are starting to see London businesses reopen offices, albeit on a more flexible basis. However, despite the Government’s efforts to encourage people to return to work, commuters are still wary about using public transport, especially in light of Boris Johnson’s announcement.
“Recognising the importance of face time in the office and people wanting to show willingness amidst job insecurity, our aim is to help commuters return safely by significantly reducing their commuting time.”
The YOTEL London Commuter Rate provides an alternative to commuting into London every day. Instead, people can stay centrally when they need to be in the office for the same price as the average rail ticket.
Gomez adds: “Reducing the need to travel on public transport decreases people’s chances of being exposed to Coronavirus and helps address anxiety around public transport. What’s more, our guests will get more time to sleep in!”
Both strategies are in our view interesting not only in themselves, but also by comparison.