Congratulations on winning the 2020 Team of the Year at the recent memcom awards. Can you tell us a little bit about the team?
What makes the marketing department so special is the sheer diversity of skills with a mixture of people at different stages of their career. The glue that holds that all together though is the passion we collectively share working for a non-profit organisation, which at its heart is all about people. Whether that is our members or the public. It’s a very special place to work. I felt that when I joined back in 2017. I have a marketing background but with a focus on large scale events and global corporate communications so it has been a really interesting journey for me so far.
When you join the CIOB you quickly start to see the world around you differently. You notice the buildings and our infrastructure with new perspective. That is magnified when you meet our members, who are humble, brilliant professionals. Literally building the world around us. The team are all really inspired by what our members achieve every day.
Can you share some insight into the team's work?
Well, things have changed somewhat over these last few months as they have for us all. The joy of it all, pandemic or not, is that no two days are ever the same for any of the team. Following redevelopment of our corporate plan we, along with everyone at the CIOB, are rolling out a series of core organisational projects from improving our journey to membership and online experience to developing a new strategic position and inspiring the next generation of leaders in our industry.
Our core day to day initiatives still continue from running events (or moving them to virtual platforms) to engaging better via internal and external communications channels, delivering a much-improved digital experience with a strategically aligned roadmap. As well as campaigns on policy initiatives such as quality in construction and mental health and of course promoting our individual and company membership.
Tell us how the CIOB has supported members during the pandemic.
I am really proud to say we have been really active in our support for members during the pandemic. We are able to offer financial support through our Benevolent fund to past and present members with a range of services and confidential advice. It is stressful times for everyone, so we established a partnership with Anxiety UK to offer easy-to-access support services to members around the world who might be struggling, or just need someone to talk to. Mental Health and Wellbeing are topics well known to us, and we have been leveraging our work over the years to help not just our members but the broader industry too. That has manifested itself as massive open online courses, freely available to anyone who needs the support.
Fortunately for us we have been delivering online learning for quite some time. However, we have dramatically shifted our model to move as many of our events online. Including those all-important networking moments to ensure a sense of community. We are able to offer online training through the CIOB Academy, which has proved to be very successful as well as lots of other knowledge.
As an organisation we recognise how difficult the world is that our members operate in. We have invested a lot of time in making sure they are as informed about the changes coming out of government and elsewhere so that they can adapt as best as possible. On a practical level we have frozen membership subscriptions for 2021 as well as concessionary rates for those experiencing financial difficulty due to Covid-19. We want our members to feel us leaning in to support them, and to help them maintain the professional qualifications they have worked so hard for.
We continue to work with government, other bodies and associations to support the industry and help business continue to operate. In a space like construction that is full of various organisations our focus has been to give consistent advice through central sources so that our members and others don’t have to spend time searching various bodies for the latest information. Topics like site operating procedures during a pandemic and even Brexit are just some of the challenges the industry is facing.
Of course, we face challenges internally as an organisation. Happily for us, we already had an IT infrastructure in place that made the transition to remote working seamless. That investment has really enabled us to continue to operate at a high standard. We are of course scenario planning and finding different ways of working as new issues arise. Most people who work at the CIOB would say there is a strong sense of family, and that has continued. We are looking out for each other. Mental health and wellbeing is important for us as an organisation, and colleagues have taken up roles like mental health first aiders to offer support and advice right across the business. As an organisation we have been mindful to keep a sense of fun and community going as best as we can. Online social events have helped with that, as have more business-related initiatives like our staff forums. From a leadership perspective our focus has been to have open dialogue across the business. Demystifying any fears and airing concerns transparently.
What challenges do you think your members and team will see over the coming months?
The unpredictability I think is the biggest challenge. Trying to plan when you don’t know what you are planning for, but we are all in the same boat and we are adaptable and flexible so we will bend according to the wind. Running events has been particularly challenging as the team has had to learn a completely new way of working and delivery and develop new and creative ways to educate, celebrate and network with our members.
After the initial shock of the first lockdown which took its toll on construction. Once the government had given clear advice on how construction projects could operate, businesses started to come back to life. Of course, that depends on the business. But for the larger contractors in this sector many managed to keep sites running safely during the first lockdown and as the restrictions lifted that became more widespread.
That is not to say things are normal. But construction is full of people who know how to adapt to unforeseen problems. They are problem solvers. According to recent reports construction continues to recover but a slow rate.
What innovations have been made as a result of the pandemic?
The wider construction industry has already seen a massive shift towards digitally enabled collaboration in the sector due to the pandemic. If this is fully embraced it could mean a more sustainable and productive way of delivering and operating our built infrastructure.
The adoption of flexible working in construction is perhaps one the big changes we will see during and following this pandemic. In the UK the majority of employers in construction are looking to continue with flexible working conditions. Which can only be a good thing for retaining and encouraging a more inclusive working environment.
For CIOB we have been able to reach a far wider global audience than ever before. Our CEO and President have just recently completed a virtual international member roadshow and we have already made a commitment to add a virtual annual Member Forum event to our calendar such was the success of the imposed version. For staff we will continue to communicate & share knowledge via the online channels we are all now so adept at using enabling us to reach the corners of the global and enable a far better sense of cohesion and understanding.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
The CIOB has been going for more than 180 years, supporting the industry, raising the bar on what is possible. No doubt Covid-19 has been a crisis and one that as an organisation and as a sector we have learned from. It has sped up the rate of innovation. From the marketing team point of view at CIOB I can safely say we have achieved more than ever in these months and I hope many will all be able to take away some positives from these unprecedented and challenging times.
About the memcom membership excellence awards
The memcom awards celebrate success in the fields of People & Leadership, Marketing & Communications, Digital, Engagement and Print. The 2021 awards are now open for nominations and more details can be found here.