What leaders think
What have been some of the key learnings for you since the UK fully re-opened over the summer?
The realisation that the widely held view around the difference between essential and non-essential jobs was inaccurate. Post lockdown we’ve all realised that the senior management roles/office roles which we previously viewed as critical are not as important as those individuals doing more practical jobs such as haulage drivers and chefs; street cleaners and refuse collectors. It’s been a fantastic wake-up call for society and something which will take years to resolve.
As we move forward from the pandemic and look to the future, what business opportunity most excites you?
What coming out of the pandemic has proved is that people want to socialise, both at work and at home. The importance of technology can’t be underestimated but the reality is that people want to experience things. And, of course, in the restaurant/bar sector it is only possible to give great guest experience through motivated and committed employees.
Given the important part that technology has played in all sectors during the pandemic, how do you envisage technology developing in your organisation going forward?
Originally technology was invaluable for the insight it provided on customer behaviour. Technology has now moved on to help assist in the resolution of the labour shortages and other related issues such as managing shift patterns and slick online recruitment. It is clear that people are prepared to work hard and to put in 45-50 hours a week but probably not over 5 days preferring instead to spread their hours over 4 days. The unseen consequence of technology is that it has given greater flexibility to the office-based worker. The white collar/office worker therefore has been seen to have more freedom and now those on the frontline are looking for something similar. Technology may be one of the enablers in finding the solution.
With sustainability and ESG being more prevalent on the Board agenda, what is your business doing to meet net zero carbon emission targets by 2050, if not earlier?
At TRG we are ahead of 2050 by some margin. In terms of Scope 1 and Scope 2 (direct emissions) we are on track to be carbon neutral by the end of 2022. Scope 3 where we need to work with the Supply Chain is more challenging because we have a need to work with a massive range of suppliers. Not surprisingly many of the larger corporates are more advanced than many of our smaller partners are able to accommodate. Even with these challenges however we are on track to complete Scope 3 by 2035.
How has your business changed in its approach to employee wellbeing during the pandemic and what will it continue to do more of in the future?
With our frontline workers we recognise that flexibility which allows them more time at home leads to better wellbeing. Office workers are recognising how the social aspects of team can reduce the feeling of being isolated at home. Different needs require differing approaches with the common goal of wellbeing for all.
Who or what has inspired you recently? (They don’t need to be famous)
What has inspired me the most is the efforts people have made to support each other as we started re-opening the pubs and restaurants. We saw people listening to each other and understanding their issues. We saw individuals being prepared to drive 10 miles to pick up a colleague who was having problems getting to work. It demonstrated how teamwork isn’t about what’s written in manuals, that it is more about proactively helping each other. These daily acts of kindness and caring are what got many people through the challenging times.
Hopefully you managed to have break over the summer, either abroad or a ‘stay cation’ – what was the highlight?
We managed a family holiday in Cornwall in the last week of August. We’d been to Mawgan Porth previously and we had a great time. My 17-year-old son, Joe, is a keen surfer and it was great to see a city kid getting really good at it and being in the water all day/every day. For the rest of us it was about being outside all day whatever the weather. Being able to be outside was such a stark contrast to those early days of lockdown.
Which book have you read recently and why would you recommend it?
“Just like you“ is Nick Hornby’s (no relation) most recent paperback which was a great read. It revolved around two people from different North London backgrounds. It is a clever story which talks about how underneath apparent differences people do share more than we think. It demonstrates that what really matters is tolerance.
What are you most looking forward to doing in 2022?
In February I am getting married in the Southwest where all of my family still live. My son will be best man and my daughter will be Chief Bridesmaid. It’s going to be a family affair and we are all looking forward to it.
Any words of wisdom?
The time when you are 100% sure you are right is the most likely time you will be wrong. Don’t plan on certainties, especially now, instead try to understand ambiguities. Don’t assume, instead listen carefully and respond accordingly. At the moment we as a business can’t rely solely on data. This has made us talk more to frontline staff to gain their views on what is going on. This currently makes those frontline staff more important than any more highly paid analytical individual.
So be humble about not having all the information and confident about making judgements.