Novus Blog

lady working from home

OUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR WORKING FROM HOME

  20 MARCH, 2020      COMPANY UPDATES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Here are our top tips to help remain healthy, happy, and productive whilst you are working from home. Like many businesses across the UK (and indeed globally), Novus closed their offices on Monday 23rd March in an effort to help halt the spread of coronavirus. As such, many office-based colleagues up and down the country are working from home (WFH). For some who work this way on a regular basis, this situation is almost "business as usual" but for many, this is somewhat unchartered waters that will take a period of adjustment. Good news! We are here to help with our 5 top tips: 1. Maintain regular hours of work Creating a healthy work life balance whilst working remotely can sometimes be hard, as the days can be (at least to begin with) a little unstructured; starting earlier and finishing later due to getting caught up in work tasks. However, it is important to still that you structure your day like you would in an office, give yourself a start time, lunch time, and finishing time. And, make sure you stick to them! 2. Schedule breaks Again, structure and routine are important when working from home. It is very easy to get caught up in your work, extending your working times, not taking any breaks, and even working through your lunch. Regular breaks are an ideal way of keeping your mind fresh and maintaining productivity levels. Therefore, we suggest you schedule breaks in the same way that you would when working in the office. Get up and make yourself a cup of tea/coffee every so often and do ensure that you take a proper lunch break - eat, re-hydrate, and stay away from your emails! Maybe you could sit in the garden (weather permitting) for half an hour for a change of scenery? 3. Have a dedicated workspace No, you don't have to sit at a chair and a desk, it could just be your kitchen table! But just because you aren't in the office doesn’t mean you can't bring the office to your home, just set up camp somewhere you feel comfortable, won't get too distracted and (preferably) a place with a decent amount of sunlight. Dedicating a specific space adds familiarity, structure, and a sense of routine to a potentially unfamiliar situation. Why not tweet us a picture of your working from home space? @_NovusSolutions 4. Plan your work list Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to plan what you will be working on the following day. We've found that this will helps us to prioritise your job list, hit the ground running, and really focus on your work tasks.  5. Stay connected Whilst working from home can initially help you focus on work in the short term, it can become quite lonely in the long term, with one of the main complaints from remote workers being the feeling of social isolation. For the benefit of your own mental health and the quality of your work output, it is important to stay connected with your colleagues. Make use of technologies that enable video conferencing and instant messaging to stay in touch with your peers and always remember that you are part of a team contributing to a bigger picture. Have some working from home tips of your own? We hope you have found these tips useful and thank you for your support during this time. If you would like to contribute your own ideas to these tips, please share them via our social media channels. We can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
2019 in review for Novus

6 HIGHLIGHTS FROM A SUCCESSFUL 2019 FOR NOVUS

  17 MARCH, 2020      COMPANY UPDATES , CORE VALUES
Novus can count the final year of the previous decade as a highly successful one. Here, we’ve picked out 6 of our biggest highlights from 2019.   1.       Alan Nixon is Appointed CEO of Novus 2019 saw Alan Nixon take the reigns as CEO for Novus. Alan is a highly enthusiastic, experienced and distinguished construction professional with over 30 years of construction industry experience. In the years leading up to this appointment, Alan fulfilled several Board level positions within the Group before eventually taking his place as CEO. This appointment is a significant milestone in the history of Novus and was therefore a key highlight of 2019.   2.       Strong Financial Performance Despite difficult market conditions in 2019, the company reported greater-than-projected revenue of £162 Million. The financial result represents another impressive year of growth for Novus, without any borrowing and retaining profit. This can be considered an outstanding result for the company. In part, this achievement is illustrative of Novus’s stability in the market and sustainable growth model. Where other contractors within the construction industry are seemingly struggling, Novus are going from strength-to-strength and anticipate further growth in 2020. An ambitious but achievable revenue target of £180 million has been set. In a sector where contractors are folding at an alarming rate , the financial stability, sensible, and sustainable business practices of Novus are the ensuring that the company thrives and is ultimately able to deliver on its promises to clients.   3.       Reinforcement of our Company Values Novus is built on a bedrock of strong family values, having been established by the Seddon brothers in 1897 (learn more about the history of Novus here) and it is a family-run business still today with the shareholders being made up of the John Seddon family. 2019 saw Sophie Seddon become a shareholder. Incredibly, Sophie represents the 5th generation of the Seddon family to be directly involved in company ownership. It is from this strong sense of family that the strong moral and ethical code of conduct and employee inclusivity is derived. Within the company, this code of ethics is referred to as “The Novus Way” – a way of working that permeates every facet of the organisation, making the company credible, reliable and trustworthy. Never more was the commitment to these values reinforced than in 2019 through the development of the Novus “Shield”. To ensure that these qualities are enacted in all areas of the business, in 2019, all Novus colleagues committed to upholding the attitudes emblemised in “The Shield” framework. Over the course of 2019, a total 250 Novus colleagues and 150 of our subcontractors attended the nationwide training roadshows. Through the company’s commitment to its customers came the “It’s Our Job” initiative. Customer service is enshrined in the Novus pillars of conduct and that’s why as part of this campaign, the company trained every colleague throughout the business in customer service excellence, irrespective of position or role. Every Novus team member was asked to commit to the ‘Valuing Our Customer Pledge” a promise to provide each and every customer with a great experience. Going forward, Novus are committed to being a market leader in customer experience. Feedback is always welcome and if you have any to share, please do get in touch via our online contact form. Additionally, 2019 saw significant developments in the Health, Safety & Wellbeing policies of Novus. Headed up by new Novus recruit Adrian Honeywell, the SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) initiative spawned activities created with the sole aim of caring for colleagues, customers, and communities. Internal strength in Compliance has led to our service to clients being expanded. As this work stream in particular is a present and high-profile issue in wider society, it is an area where Novus can offer additional value to clients now and in the future.   4.       Social Value and Corporate Social Responsibility As a socially responsible and morally driven business, Novus are continually getting involved in social value projects throughout the UK, working with local community groups and charities nationwide. Novus are committed to becoming a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility within the sector. In 2019, Novus fended off competition from some of the biggest names in our industry to win two prestigious awards in the shape of the CSR Initiative of the Year Award from – Construction News Talent Awards and The Community Engagement Award at the National Building Awards. These accolades were awarded for Novus’s flagship CSR initiative: the “Big 5 Campaign”, a venture that saw 5 deserving community projects receive £20,000 each to help towards the cost of the renovation works. (see all the videos from the BIG 5 Campaign here). In addition, December 2019 saw Novus get into the festive spirit as each site encouraged to “Give a Gift” of time and/or money to the homeless and less fortunate. Charities that tackle homelessness and poverty benefitted from the campaign, alongside care homes and various children’s charities all were the recipients of gifts from Novus colleagues.   As charitable and social value initiatives are at the heart of operations at Novus, we will continue to work closely with our partners and local communities to help make lives better for the people who live there. Keep up-to-date with our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities by visiting the CSR section of the Novus website.   5.       Boosting Career Progression and Development Opportunities In 2019, Novus worked hard to build a legacy where people can live, work, and thrive; recognising that its workforce are the lifeblood of the business. Through robust succession planning and a culture of developing talent from within, came new opportunities for colleagues to grow and progress within the business. Novus is focussed on becoming organisation that continually nurtures talent and facilitates career progression. This tradition of talent development is showcased by the high volume of long serving colleagues who have moved into more senior roles within the business in recent times. Seven new Operations Managers were appointed alongside Steve Fitt as Senior Operations Manager, Sam Frame, Chris Murphy, and Gary Clay became Heads of Operations, and Sophie Seddon moved into a senior leadership role as Head of Client Engagement and Communications. Additionally, Novus also proved to be competitive in the recruitment market in 2019, attracting experienced and talented individuals to fill newly created positions in the business, such as Adrian Honeywell (Head of SHEQ) and Hannah O’Brien (Marketing Communications Manager). The performance and sustainable growth of the company has enabled Novus to invest in strengthening all areas of the business. The employment and training of apprentices is in the DNA of the company and is seen as vitally important to the future of the business and the industry as a whole. Novus has been employing apprentices since 1938 and are renown for the quality of their training. Last year, Novus employed 18 apprentices across a range of disciplines including Joinery and Multi-Trades. You can hear from 3 apprentices from the class of 2019 in our blog article here. Novus is committed to becoming a great place to work and creating great teams is a key area of focus for the business. To that end, Novus launched an employee engagement survey, which was designed to garner valuable input from colleagues across all areas of the organisation.  There was a massive response that saw 74% of the total workforce give their feedback and incite improvements in areas of operation such as internal communication.   6.       Contract Wins Novus remains a commercially attractive organisation as was demonstrated by some big contract wins, extensions and success stories. New contracts with Johnnie Johnson, South Derbyshire, New Forrest, NHS Boston and Lincoln, Midland Heart, Fortior Homes, Swindon Borough Council, and Unitas, along with the contract extension with Manchester University all represented significant business for the company. These examples are just a flavour of the major wins that Novus achieved in 2019, all leading contributing towards the ultimate strategic intent of the company. The level of repeat business and customer retention was particularly pleasing, as it demonstrates our focus on nurturing client relationships and commitment to being a leader in customer experience.     2019 proved to be a great year for Novus and these were some of many highlights for the business. We are hopeful that 2020 proves to be even more successful.
A Novus worker sat down talking to three other people

NOVUS PARTNERS WITH TPAS AND HOME GROUP TO TACKLE SOCIAL HOUSING STIGMA

  02 APRIL, 2019      COMPANY UPDATES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
We’ve recently teamed up with Tpas and Home Group to support their Life Swap sessions in Leeds, as part of our ongoing commitment to equality and diversity. The workshops are designed to break down the barriers some people experience when living in social housing, by allowing them to share their stories and experiences with individuals from different backgrounds. You can find out more about the social housing services we offer, including planned maintenance here. Many social landlords are focused on tackling stigma following the release of the Government’s social housing green paper (A New Deal for Social Housing) which highlighted the issue. The green paper is available on the Government website here. As part of the sessions, which we sponsored and took part in, housing associations will learn to better understand the different needs of individuals within their communities, develop a cohesive approach to helping vulnerable residents and tackle the stigma attached to certain groups as a result. We’ve long been committed to the principle of giving back to our communities, whether through holding resident workshops, helping vulnerable tenants out in their day-to-day lives or through our recent Novus Big Five initiative, which saw us give five worthy causes a £20,000 refurbishment project. You can check out one of our recent refurbishment projects here. Kevin Rhone, head of social value and customer services at Novus, said: “When the opportunity came along to sponsor the Life Swap initiative, we couldn’t wait to get started.
John Palfreyman, Non-exec Director for Novus stood next to a Novus sign

WHAT THE NEW NON-EXEC DIRECTOR BRINGS TO THE BUSINESS

  29 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
John Palfreyman shares his thoughts on becoming the newly appointed Non-exec Director for Novus. Novus is privately owned by John Seddon’s family. The family have been in business for over 120 years and have a very clear view of why they are in business together. Following my appointment as Non-Executive Director at Novus Property Solutions, I recently had the pleasure of attending a “Non-Executive Directors (NED) in a Family Business” masterclass, run by the Institute of Family Businesses in association with the Financial Times. This inspirational one-day session was delivered by practitioners with a wealth of first-hand family business experience.  The delegates were either engaged as NEDs, or seeking to appoint a NED into a family business leading to fascinating discussions in the breaks and breakout sessions. These are my ten key “take-aways” from this session: 1. Clarity of role - for the NED to be successful, it is essential that there is total clarity of what is expected from them.  This needs to be shared with the board members - and (obviously) the NED - then periodically reviewed. 2. Champion of family culture - family businesses have a culture so clear “that you can taste it” (quote from one of the keynote speakers).  For example, Novus’ family values are documented here.  It’s essential that the NED understands, buys into and then champions the family values in all interactions with the business.  The NED must also speak up in the event that family culture and business goals misalign. 3. Balanced attributes - a NED is usually recruited to fill specific knowledge gaps at Board Level.  But the NED’s personal chemistry with family members and the Chief Executive Officer are equally as important and an essential pre-requisite for success.  The interpersonal aspects need to be nurtured through regular, informal interactions with the Board and family members. 4. Comprehensive on-boarding - the NED’s time to value is directly attributable to the quality and thoroughness of the on boarding process.  Gone are the days when an hour with the Company Secretary walking through the last Board pack will suffice.  The new NED must take time to get to know the Board, family members and Chief Executive Officer and their on boarding should include visits to selected remote office locations to understand how the company operates. 5. Complete objectivity - the NED must be totally objective (and be seen to be so) in their advice to the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and avoid forming closer ties with specific Board members.  The NED must also avoid getting involved in family or Board “politics” and forming “power axes” with other NEDs or Board members. 6. Mentoring - the NED is ideally placed to mentor selected Board and executive team members, including the ‘next generation’ family members. 7. External context - the NED brings external context into the family business, mitigating the risks arising from “it’s always been done like this” philosophy. 8. Successor planning - because of their objectivity and external context they bring, the NED is also ideally positioned to help with successor planning, to ensure that opportunities for key staff are achieved and the “flight risk” for key position holders is mitigated. 9. Challenging, but ego-free - the NED should (and must) challenge the Chief Executive Officer and family members where appropriate, but must do this in a sensitive, ego free manner avoiding confrontation and from a position of objectivity. 10. Sounding board - the NED must be available to the Chief Executive Officer and family members for brainstorming, idea validation and so on.  Again, the NED will offer impartial, objective advice in these interactions acting as a “critical friend” to the business. I am very excited to be able to fulfil the position of the Non-Executive Director for Novus after working in the information technology industry for 40 years, most recently with IBM at director level. Novus has a history of innovation which has seen it embrace change and adapt to meet new challenges. It’s an exciting time to join the business as it looks to improve efficiencies through digitisation and leverage information for strategic advantage. I will be working with Novus’ Board of Directors to integrate information-led innovations into project delivery and business management.  
PRESS OFFICE
Hannah O'Brien
Telephone: 07854 781631
Email: hannah.obrien@novussolutions.co.uk
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