Working smarter at Binnies UK
There is no denying that the pandemic disrupted the global labour markets during 2020/2021. Employees were suddenly forced to work from home with offices closed and many either losing their jobs, changing careers or having to survive on long-term furlough. At Binnies, we provide an essential service to our water utility and environmental clients and we had no choice but to continue working as effectively as possible. We had to adapt quickly to remote working and we had to place a lot of trust in our employees that they would continue to maintain high levels of productivity.
As a large global organisation, we already had strong IT infrastructure in place and the very nature of our work consulting, designing and building large infrastructure facilities meant that we were already used to working collaboratively within diverse teams. On lockdown day one in March 2020, we were able to put our more than 100 years’ experience managing complex and often remote teams to best effect. We immediately formed a COVID-19 steering group that quickly pulled together a plan to offer our clients additional services if staff became ill and we introduced the use of virtual reality headsets for site visits, so we could limit the number of employees out in the field. We also ramped up our digital products and services offering to ensure that our clients had all the latest technology at their fingertips to support them in their business-critical work, should their staff numbers rapidly decrease.
Fast forward to 2022 and remote working combined with an increase in automation and the use of artificial intelligence has become the new norm. Our clients are looking for more intelligent ways to achieve their business goals – but what has the pandemic taught us about how we can work smarter in the future?
In 2021, we consulted with our employees about their future working preferences and the feedback showed that many employees felt that having the flexibility to spend more time with family and less time travelling to offices has improved their mental wellbeing. We have also continued to measure productivity levels against revenue growth and retention rates and we are pleased to report that in 2021, we saw revenue growth of 31% and EBITDA is forecast to outperform by 10% with attrition rates remaining steady at 8%. We also hired 39 graduates and over 200 experienced professionals.
Most importantly, in January 2021, we were acquired by the RSK group, which is the largest privately owned environmental engineering services firm in the UK. The company saw potential in our water and environment business and, despite the pandemic, brought us into the RSK family.
As restrictions are now lifted, our New Ways of Working Group is looking at what life looks like post-COVID-19. There are so many lessons we can learn from such an unprecedented event and it would be foolish to simply resume life as it was before. So, if we now know that we can work productively under pandemic conditions and thrive under the direction and guidance of a new parent company, what should the new norm look like? How do we keep our employees motivated and aligned to our sense of purpose: ‘Enhancing Lives, Communities and the Environment’? How do we continue to build a strong brand identity at pace with continued levels of remote working?
At Binnies, we really do care about enhancing lives and this starts with our employees. We are committed to a working environment built around an ethos of ‘Flexibility, Agility and Opportunity that enables us to strike a balance between connecting with our families and friends while still taking the time to interact and develop strong relationships, either remotely or in person, with our colleagues.
Flexible working is not a new concept within Binnies. Pre-pandemic, we offered a variety of options to our employees to provide a comfortable working environment, ranging from being exclusively home- or office-based to a hybrid of office and home working. We also offer a nine-day fortnight, part-time hours and the option to schedule working hours to start earlier or later in the day.
What the pandemic has taught us is that it has become more acceptable to choose a flexible style of working. We won’t be demanding that our employees return to work for a set number of days each week but we are encouraging everyone to spend their time wisely. It is important that we strike the right balance between remote and face-to-face working. Meetings in person should be about collaboration and sharing ideas, which would otherwise be difficult virtually. We need to create more spaces for teams to come together. Solving complex challenges is often done best in a collaborative workshop environment and staff feel more connected with personal one-to-one meetings with line managers and mentors.
Our ENGAGED behaviours define our culture. We listen to our employees and try to nurture an environment where staff feel empowered to make choices that support their health and wellbeing. We believe that if someone has a choice, enthusiasm and job satisfaction will be abundant. Combine this with the team camaraderie and the family feeling you get when you join Binnies, and you will see why our staff turnover rates remain low and why we are able to consistently deliver award-winning projects successfully.
Binnies has not only been able to adapt consistently and successfully to change, but it has also learned to thrive on it. Synergies between Binnies and the RSK group companies mean there is a greater depth of products and services available to our clients along with the opportunity to venture into new markets. Our operational synergies with RSK enable us to recruit staff from a significantly wider resource pool across the UK rather than restricting our searches to a particular geographical area. RSK has a non-bureaucratic operating model that allows decisions to be processed at a faster pace, which in turn encourages collaboration and a drive to create new and innovative partnerships with other RSK companies and external technology providers. RSK operates an acquisition growth strategy and the company is thus expanding at a rapid rate; therefore, we must respond to changes with agility and flexibility.
A rapidly expanding company means we need to ensure that our staff can meet the technical demands of an ever-changing environment. We work across the entire life cycle of a project, providing our clients with strategic asset management advice, business case development and planning and detailed design and build, commissioning and operation and maintenance services. We can offer our staff exciting opportunities at every stage of a project and we are proud of the support we provide our staff to develop their careers, including apprenticeships, coaching and mentoring, further education and support for pursuing charterships. We recognise that as we develop the structure of our business to suit the demands of our clients, succession planning is becoming increasingly important, and we must create the next generation of leaders. We want to be recognised as an exciting, dynamic company with an abundance of subject matter experts, innovators and trend setters.
We are in a unique position that our strong sense of purpose: ‘Enhancing Lives, Communities and the Environment, combined with our over 100-year pedigree, enables us to retain and attract the brightest and most passionate people. When staff feel connected and have a strong sense of purpose, they are more motivated and energised, knowing that what they do has a place in the world and that they can make a difference. This is why our sense of purpose is so important and how, as one of the UK’s leading water and environmental businesses, we are investing in our people and making the transition from being great to truly amazing!
At Binnies, we create new possibilities for humanity through our innovative approach to delivery. Backed by a culture that has stayed true since the company’s founding over 100 years ago, Binnies develops intelligent water and environmental solutions using a whole-life-cycle approach to deliver functional infrastructure and lasting environmental and social legacies. We strive to elevate the quality of life for our local communities today and for generations to come.
Binnies is an RSK group company and was formerly part of Black & Veatch.
About the RSK group (RSK)
RSK is a leading integrated environmental, engineering and technical services group made up of over 100 businesses. The group is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has an established presence in more than 40 countries around the world.
For over 30 years, RSK has been helping organisations realise their business goals efficiently, cost-effectively and with the minimum environmental and social impact. We deliver practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. As a client-focused business, our services are constantly evolving to directly respond to or pre-empt global conditions and legislative drivers.
Angela Collins Tel: +44 (0)1737 856399 | Mobile: +44 (0)7391 639733 | Email:firstname.lastname@example.org