All over the world companies are (whether they like it or not) embracing the concept of remote working as many employees, particularly those that are sick or vulnerable, are forced to take part in what is fast becoming an international lockdown.
If you're still unsure about how this could all work we're going to explore several tools and options for remote working that should keep it all running smoothly.
The UK was slow to act in getting workers off the streets, offices and public transport systems and it was only yesterday that we heard that schools are to be shut from Friday for an indeterminant period – forcing even more people to stay at home from Monday.
Sadly, for some companies they’re only testing the ability to move to wholesale remote working now that they’re being forced to. As a company, SchemeServe have been a remote working company for 15 years, so we’re very well practiced.
Forgive us for sounding smug. We’re not trying to be. But there are many benefits of remote working, some of which we’ve been reaping for nearly two decades. It really works! But you don't have to take our word for it as you will now experience this first hand in the coming weeks and months as we try and tackle the spread of Covid-19 and protect the vulnerable.
For us it works because our employees are scattered all around the country as well as Italy, Bulgaria and there’ll shortly be another employee based in the US.
We know without a doubt that there are some downsides. But on the whole we’d say that there are many more advantages to this kind of set up and we’d like the UK workforce and particularly the clients we service in the insurance industry to consider our way of working. This is not just for yourselves but for the greater good of the economy and the environment.
Here I’m going to unpack how we keep ourselves motivated, keep up staff morale, stay in touch and even have a couple of laughs along the way:
We have monthly meetings: We conduct Zoom video calls with the whole company and our various internal teams have a daily call on the platform as well to keep on top of projects. We also do it so everyone feels included.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, Zoom describes itself as a modern enterprise video and cloud-based platform. It’s available in 18 countries and territories (we wouldn’t be surprised if it rolls out to more areas given the current situation) and can be used to host virtual meetings via live webinar, phone and offers a messaging and file sharing platform as well.
It’s not the only tool we use to keep in touch. We use corporate chat systems (Slack) to stay in touch during the day and share funny videos, to get things done.
We don’t only talk about work:The key is to keeping remote working interesting and healthy so as a result we have to do more than just chat about the latest work project. People have social lives, hobbies, sports and other interests. We share daily videos of our families; our hobbies and we give people time off for charity work and birthdays.
We meet up regularly:Obviously this is not something we can readily do now given that entire cities will soon be in lockdown and we’re being advised to stay at home. But before the pandemic started (and certainly once the dust settles and we’ve beaten it) we have a quarterly face-to-face retreat where we stay in a hotel and have a couple of days of fun activities to get to know each other better etc.
At SchemeServe, team member life/work balance is optimal, and people join our business to experience this. We all have the same mindset and value this very highly. We have many staff in remote parts of the UK which give them the life they want.
You don’t have to use Slack and Zoom. There are lots of other remote working tools that you can use including Skype, WhatsApp, Webex, Microsoft’s Teams platform, Asana, Monday – the list goes on. Some, like Webex, have a free trial period so you can see which tool works best for you and your business.
Don’t forget that working remotely can present its own set of security challenges. Hackers are aware that people are currently more vulnerable and unsure and they’re taking advantage of this. Make sure you make use of a virtual private network (VPN), encryption and inform employees that they should not open emails from strange and unfamiliar sources, especially if they ask you to click on a link or download a document.
Self-isolation and working remotely doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Use this opportunity to showcase your ability to do your work remotely. Employers should likewise use this opportunity to explore the benefits that remote working can bring to their employees and their bottom line.
While there are some security risks to working from home these can be addressed. Think about it! You have to pay for that office space and for each seat that’s occupied. You don’t have to supply stationery or for cleaners. Your employees get lots out of it too. They don’t have to pay exorbitant transport fees just to get into work. They can get sick just by taking public transport to get to work.
If you offer flexible working, it means they will never have to miss a child’s nativity play again or a vital doctor or dentist appointment. Because if the job is done should you really care when or how it’s done?
Besides the social and business profit impact, there’s the added benefit of helping out the environment. There’ll be fewer cars on the road and that in itself will dramatically reduce the pollution.
Of course, not everyone can work from home or remotely. That’s definitely one thing this pandemic has demonstrated. We need our teachers, nurses, deliverymen and farmers to do what they do best. It’s what gives the rest of us the privilege to work from home. If your job doesn’t involve the need for face to face interaction there’s no better way to work in our opinion!