Lockdown in the UK meant that businesses had to overhaul their working practices with very little planning time. Without a doubt technology has been the biggest help with sustaining our business and keeping our people connected. Thankfully, we already had remote desktop capability and were therefore able to switch to full time home working with relative ease.
We had begun to implement new technologies such as Zoom and Teams pre-lockdown but with no-one able to meet in person we’ve found that our teams and particularly our clients embraced this new way of working much more quickly. These technologies have really helped to keep ‘face to face’ interactions with both our people and our clients.
Video calling has also been vital when talking with new and potential clients. I believe that people buy from people and so being able to emulate that in person interaction has allowed for new conversations to take place. Although, technology has been a huge help in the interim, I don’t believe that it will ever replace that face to face interaction completely. Referrals from existing clients is how we win most of our new work and so being able to build relationships with people will always be a huge part of our business.
We’ve had to think on our feet for matters involved in our work which usually requires a physical presence. Meeting our clients’ deadlines is always at the forefront of our minds and so our working practices have been adapted to ensure this work can continue. For example, clients have been required to send through information needed electronically which has for the most part worked well.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how successful home working has been and this has certainly had an impact on our future planning. With remote working now a viable possibility for many of our people this will no doubt have an impact on office space as we grow our teams. The talent pool has also opened up allowing for opportunities to recruit people from further afield for remote working. This is a hugely exciting prospect as often a limiting factor for our business is finding the right talent to add to our growing team.
While our office is slowly beginning to reopen following government guidelines, we are largely still working from home. We’ve found we need to be flexible with our team, particularly those with children, who may not feel ready to be back in the office or have logistical issues with their return. Regular communications with our people along with staff surveys have allowed us to ensure that we continue to meet their needs. The safety of our team is paramount and while I expect the numbers in our offices to increase over the coming weeks we are making sure we take the time to fully understand the government guidelines and implement measures accordingly.
The biggest challenge I have faced has been keeping the team feeling like a team and not being isolated from colleagues whilst remote working. Some people have also struggled with their homeworking set-ups with flatmates, distractions or a lack of desk space proving challenging. Although technology has allowed for it, we’ve found that homeworking won’t work for everyone in the long-term.
This is all feeding into our future flexible working practices as the learning here has been that a different approach is needed for each member of the team and we need our working practices to
reflect that. My approach is to empower my team to work in a way that suits them best while still delivering results for our clients.