How lockdown changed my view on Recruitment and Remote working
When I set up my business in 2013, I did so working from home and I set up my systems and processes in such a way that I could effectively work from anywhere. I used cloud-based software and ensured that everything I did was stored electronically and, having a small home office also avoided the use of paper files wherever possible.
In April 2017 I was joined by my first Solicitor colleague, Miranda Amos with the intention for her to work from home in Salisbury. I had not planned to branch into the Salisbury and Wiltshire market at the time but having met Miranda at an Employment Lawyers event I knew that she would be the right person to work with my growing business. Primarily Miranda was brought in to assist me with the work that I had been growing locally on the Isle of Wight and in Eastleigh.
Secondary to this was building the business in the Salisbury area; her location had not mattered but it helped that it was just a short train journey from my virtual office in Eastleigh.
Although I did move the business into an office space in summer 2017 this had more to do with the fact that my home office was no longer viable, and we needed to bring in some administrative support.
Despite having a permanent office space, we have always worked with cloud-based systems, upgrading them along the way to suit the needs of the business and our customers. We now use a full case management system, Leap that ensures easier collaboration and storage of files and documents.
In order to ensure good team communication, we had our regular Monday morning meetings virtually, using Skype initially then moving to Microsoft Teams to make sure that Miranda was always involved and we could keep up that regular communication.
So, when the lockdown happened in March 2020 we were actually all set and ready to seamlessly work from home. We use VOIP telephone systems that can be used anywhere, so everyone took their computer and phone home, hooked onto the internet and were all set to work painlessly from home.
Our regular team meetings using Microsoft Teams continued and we actually increased our use of the Teams chat system for sharing information and staying in touch throughout the working day.
I count myself very lucky when the lockdown situation happened, rather than panicking trying to set up systems and get staff familiar with new ways of working it was very easy.
Whilst I have been used to working with remote systems and having now had a base in Salisbury we had always maintained an element of in person contact so we would have regular meetings with Miranda in Salisbury or she would come to the Isle of Wight or meet somewhere in the middle for regular catch ups. However, having not been able to see colleagues in the flesh for several months it started to shift my view on recruitment and ways of working. So, when I was contacted by a solicitor with good quality employment experience based in Durham I didn’t immediately dismiss the thought of having another colleague working remotely, but this time so far away from our Head Office.
What lockdown had told me was that we can in fact work very effectively without having close geographical proximity and because most of our customers now are used to working with technology having meetings via Teams or Zoom and not having that face-to-face in person contact actually meant we could bring someone into the business even though they are not based in the South.
We met with Kayleigh via Teams and thought that she was a fantastic fit for the business, however we did have a moment of thinking this person is going to be based in Durham which is possibly one of the furthest place is away from our office on the Isle of Wight. But we rationalised it by thinking that we have not actually seen any other colleagues even those based 3 miles away on the Isle of Wight in person for three months, so having a colleague based far away wouldn’t make a huge amount of difference to the way that we are working anyway. Nor should it make any difference for our customers, many of whom are based throughout the UK and with whom we never have (in person) face-to-face contact with anyway.
I truly believe that despite having the systems and processes in place and being very forward thinking we would not have taken the leap to bring Kayleigh into the business had it not been for lockdown. We probably would have dismissed the idea without even meeting her because of her location.
It has taught me is that we can very effectively bring someone into the business, supervise them and manage them remotely, and it actually opens the door to bringing more great quality talent and candidates into the business when we would have potentially been restricted before.
I know of course this does not work for every business however if you have the systems and processes in place and you are able to manage employees effectively then there isn’t any reason why they can’t work remotely from home no matter where they are based geographically from your office.
If you would like any advice and support on supervising and managing staff who are based remotely then I am certainly happy to help with this and even if your work isn’t one that can be measured easily we can help you to look at ways in which you can effectively measure work and productivity if you are concerned that having somebody working remotely from you could be difficult to manage.
The systems we use to effectively work remotely are: