The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred us on to try new ways of working which are here to stay, the Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) says in a newly published article.

Di Smith says working practices have had to change rapidly since she took the reins of the company at the start of the first lockdown in April 2020. And now BFfC is embracing the changes and making them work to its advantage.

Writing in a leadership feature in Children & Young People Now, Ms Smith says the virus has accelerated a move towards a more flexible and agile way of working which will benefit staff and Reading’s children and young people.

Most BFfC employees have been working from home or remotely during the pandemic and that model is set to continue even when restrictions are lifted. There will be no general call for staff to return to the office once its doors are reopened and individuals are being encouraged to make their own working arrangements with their managers.

Office-based staff will have the flexibility to choose how often they go into the office or work remotely as long as it is in line with management and operational requirements.

Ms Smith says in her article: “At Brighter Futures for Children, we have not only embraced virtual meetings but have used the learning from the pandemic to accelerate our commitment to an agile way of working.

“We realised during the first lockdown that standard office hours didn’t always fit with our employees’ own lives. Home schooling, living alone or in a tight space with a large family all present challenges.

“Working flexibly and being trusted to do so can mean staff cope better personally and deliver a better service for children and families.”

Ms Smith explains BFfC’s approach to developing agile working in five headings: keep in touch; listen to learn; focus on the outcomes; have the right kit and work together.

She said: “We have learned a lot over the last year and will continue to explore with our staff how agile working can enable them to perform at their best for the company, and ultimately for the children and young people of Reading.”

The article on Flexible Working by Board Chair Di Smith can be viewed on the BFfC website, is available to read on and appears in the July print edition of Children & Young People Now.