A few weeks ago I came across an article on Linkedin about scrapping your work from home policy. The author argues that work is about what you do, not where you are, and focusing on policies misses the point. What’s really important, she says, is that you have a motivated, engaged workforce that is working productively – whether that’s in the office, at home, or in a coffee shop.
Which got me thinking about how we work at Cezanne HR.
Pretty much all of us can work from home if we want to – as long as we ensure we have appropriate cover in the office. Phones still need to be answered, clients greeted, post opened and replied to, etc. For myself, that meant the opportunity to move with my family to Scotland, alternating one week working from home and the next in the London office. Some in my team may work two or three days a week at home, especially if they have a particular project they want to focus on and prefer the peace and quiet of a home office. Others find they work better in the office; the choice is theirs. Where we work doesn’t stop us from being productive as a team, or operating as a cohesive unit.
So, what is it that makes working from home work for us?
It starts with trust and a collaborative approach that is based on a shared commitment to supporting our customers, each other, and the goals of our business. Which is facilitated by the way we use technology.
In the development team, we follow an agile development methodology. We have a daily SCRUM meeting, which is not the usual stand-up, normally done via Skype. It’s at the heart of our agile development methodology, and what allows us to follow a continuous improvement approach, so we constantly develop, assure quality, and release new features for our SaaS HR solution.
With online meeting technologies, like Skype or GoToMeeting, these team conversations are just as effective online as they are face-to-face. In fact, in my experience, online meetings tend to be more focused and productive, with less of a chance of going off topic, or being interrupted.
A similar approach is applied when team members need to work together on particular areas. Last minute meetings can be arranged (no need to book a meeting room), screen-sharing makes explanations more clear and, since our development and testing tools are in the Cloud, they are available 24/7 — which suits both the night owls and the early birds amongst us.
Support, sales, and marketing also make full use of online tools, such as ZenDesk for support or Salesforce/Pardot for customer relationship management. Information is held centrally and – subject to security permissions – available to help everyone get their work done more productively, wherever they are.
Naturally, we use Cezanne HR to simplify and speed up our HR processes. The collaborative calendar feature is especially helpful in allowing us to plan cover and easily see where everyone is.
However, remote working also has its challenges. As an employer we have legal obligations to our employees, and the security of our software code and customers’ data. It is absolutely critical that we take serious measures to make sure these obligations are met.
We have a robust security approach that includes encrypted laptops, use of secure networks, dual authentication, and specialist end-to-end encryption platforms for secure file exchange (for example, when we help customers with data upload).
This is backed by employee education and constant monitoring (both internal and by third parties) of our systems.
Obviously, not every business can let their employees work from home. But for those that can, shifting the focus from ‘where you are’ to ‘what you can achieve,’ and putting the tools in place to make this happen, seems to make perfect business sense to me.