Claremont Group Interiors – Our EO Story

Claremont Group Interiors is a longstanding Workplace Design and Build Agency with headquarters in Warrington and a second office location in Bristol. We create exceptional workplaces across the breadth of the UK for a range of different clients including Law Firms, Insurance Firms, Technology Companies and Charities.

We have over 90+ talented employees, with over 32% of them serving 10 years or more and a 50:50 gender split across our management team. We are proud of our ability to retain and attract the very best talent.

As a people-oriented business, we transferred into an Employee-Owned Trust in December 2020, with the desire to reward and continue to retain our colleagues, whilst ensuring we could create a platform to futureproof the ownership of our organisation developing a cyclical succession model to ensure the continuation of our 44-year-old business.

Our new ownership model is a perfect representation of the attitude of our people and the culture of our business. Claremont employee values & DNA include Ownership & Passion – two attributes that have enabled the long-standing success of our business. As an EOT our people now have true ownership and passion in what we do, and how we support our clients.

As a workplace Design and Build business we have had both positive and negative experiences throughout the pandemic.

Positively, we have seen a surge of interest in the question, “what is the office for and how should it work”, resulting in increased demand for our services. However, as per the majority of organisations, we’ve had the challenge of transitioning to a complete work from home model overnight, without allowing any drop in productivity or any negative impact on our client base. As a creative organisation we also needed to rethink how to create the ‘buzz’ of the office in a temporarily digital-only world.

With construction sites remaining open throughout, our onsite teams were still operationally active. Some of our projects require site teams to spend considerable amounts of time away from their family and other colleagues – this was further compounded by the pandemic and other requirements such as having to self-isolate.

We responded to these challenges by utilising our core DNA and beliefs – which is to be transparent with our people and ‘overload with communication’. We developed a people-first approach to our Covid-19 response, regardless of job role or hierarchy, and ensured all our colleague were safe and well – both physically and mentally.

We took on specific mental health training and had several internal mental health advisers trained within our organisation who would regularly check in on colleagues, whilst we also upskilled our management teams, so they were comfortable ‘manging remotely’ and had the necessary skills to support their teams.

We utilised the furlough scheme due to several paused projects, and in particular we highlighted individuals that due to a number of reasons would benefit more from being furloughed than others. However, with huge amounts of uncertainty and anxiety sweeping the country, the last thing we wanted to do was to reduce our colleagues take home pay due to them being furloughed – we didn’t want to treat furloughed colleagues as inferior or less important to us. Therefore, we made a commitment throughout the pandemic that we would top up all furloughed colleagues to their full pay, at a considerable cost to the business.

In the first month of lockdown, we were keen to understand how our people were responding to these challenges and to gauge the temperature of the business. Therefore, our Managing Director ran a weekly quiz twice a day, to facilitate that social interaction which is lacking from video conferencing and to ensure he had ‘visually’ checked in with all our people. We also ran various wellbeing exercises, company-wide initiatives, and several remote townhalls to keep colleagues informed, happy and motivated.

We run an annual ‘Engage Survey’ to measure happiness in our colleagues and to find improvement measures for our business. This year’s Engage survey saw an increase in responses, therefore an increase in engagement levels, with the latest figure up to 96%. Within the Engage Survey we ask a range of questions covering categorise across our business, including our brand, our workplace, our culture, and our management teams. Overall, we found satisfaction in our employees increased 10% this year, with the highest increase being within the categorise of ‘wellbeing’ and ‘my manager’. Direct feedback from colleagues referenced our transparency and communication throughout the pandemic as being supportive, especially our regular town hall session where our managing director would present our live order book and confirm the health of the business, calming fears of redundancies or pay cuts – neither which have occurred.

The Pandemic, and the uncertainty of the last 18 months, enabled us to truly highlight and prioritise what’s important – and that’s people above profit. We believe becoming an EOT, and therefore formalising our culture around ownership, passion and transparency, enabled us to better respond to the challenges this year and to come through these as a stronger more resilient organisation.

As an EOT our people are bought into what we do, and we’ve developed a family culture. Within a family everyone is equally responsible for its success and for supporting each other – becoming an EOT allowed us to embed these values in a time when we really needed it.