Like many businesses around the world, Coronavirus altered our ways of working in ways we could have never imagined. But how do we ensure we continue operating successfully whilst working remotely? Our Director of Client Services, Chris Roberts, shares some key initiatives to make working from home a success.
How Coronavirus Has Impacted Our Working Practices
Like the rest of the country, COVID-19 dramatically turned our working lives upside down. We transitioned from everyone being based in the office five days a week, to everyone working remotely from home. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the initiatives we used to make working from home a success, and some of the key learnings we have taken from this period.
How have we adapted?
The first thing to mention here is how amazing our teams have been in adapting to new ways of working. Working from home on a full-time basis was unexpected for everyone, but there have been a range of ways we’ve ensured business was able to continue effectively. So, how exactly have we ensured remote working is a success?
Firstly, like everyone else in the world, we’ve adopted Zoom for running both internal and external meetings. Whilst virtual calls will never be a replacement for face-to-face meetings, this period of remote working has shown us that it isn’t necessary for us to travel to our clients’ offices every month for meetings. The amount of time this saves us can be reinvested into value added activities for our clients. So, going forwards, it will be good to see more of a balance between face-to-face and online meetings.
Moreso than ever before, communication is key. Not being able to turn around from your desk and chat to colleagues is challenging, but one way we’ve countered this is by setting up client-specific chats on Microsoft Teams. These chats allow quick and easy information sharing, without being too intrusive and disruptive to people. As a member of a number of these chats, I can see that they work very effectively. It’s great to see information being shared so quickly, as well as the collaborative and responsive way our teams are working together.
Whilst we were already using team and client huddles prior to this period of remote working, these sorts of catch-ups have become more important than ever as an opportunity for people to get together and discuss challenges, while also removing feelings of isolation that can occur when working from home.
What have we learnt?
For me, the most important lesson we’ve learnt during this period is that we don’t all need to be sitting in the same office for us to be effective. In fact, during the last five months our teams have driven some amazing results for our clients. We’ve also had new members of staff joining the business remotely, won and onboarded new clients, worked on product launches, ran webinars, expanded our technology portfolio and seen an increase in client satisfaction scores. Rather than slowing down, it feels like we’ve been busier than ever – and all of this was achieved with every member of our team working remotely.
Prior to March, we did have a remote working policy in place – albeit a slightly old-fashioned and inflexible one. We are now revisiting this policy based on the successes of the last five months. While we are gradually opening the office (with restrictions and modifications in place to ensure we are COVID-compliant), there is no pressure on our team to return to the office. They are free to set their own schedules based on what works for them – and more importantly, what they feel safest doing.
The more interesting aspect of remote working has been around our hiring policy. As a result of this shift in thinking, we are now totally flexible when it comes to the location of potential employees. In fact, our last two new starters, Alex and Mollie, are going to be remotely working full-time. For me, this is a really exciting move as it opens up a much larger talent pool to hire from. As we focus on hiring the best talent in the industry regardless of location, I’m really looking forward to seeing our teams grow from strength to strength.
So, whilst COVID has presented a huge challenge to us as a business, I am positive that we are coming out of the other side in a much better place. We will always have a physical office location, but our staff now have far more flexibility to create a work schedule and pattern that works for them, allowing them to work as effectively as possible. With the flexibility of opening up remote working contracts to those living further afield, I believe we have cause to be optimistic about a future of happier people driving even better results for our clients.