Big brother is watching you…

Well no actually, I disagree.

The recent snow storms took an interesting toll on the UK economy and more relevantly perhaps, on UK SME’s. It reared the age old debate of ‘working from home’ and brought focus onto remote connectivity technologies and left many businesses reflecting on their disaster recovery procedures.

The snow also cost the UK economy £600m per day, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. A high percentage of this was a direct result of people being unable to get into their office / place of work.

Now don’t get me wrong, certain people need to be physically at their place of work- bank clerks, store assistants, nurses, delivery drivers to name a few.  The rest of us? I’m not so sure.  When I recall my experiences as an employee, the time that I felt most productive and motivated was when I worked implementing global contact centres. My boss was one of the best people I have ever worked for. She had complete trust in my abilities to deliver (just as well since she was the one who recruited me). She empowered me to deliver my targets and never, ever insisted on my presence in the office. She never measured time spent sat at my desk.  Instead, she set a fantastic working structure with strong communication channels and delivery based targets and equipped me with the right tools to remain ‘connected’ no matter where in the world I was.  The result? I exceeded targets, delivered on, if not before, deadlines and practically slept with my Blackberry. She got way over the expected 40hrs from me per week.  Why? Because I loved my job and felt more motivated than ever before.  Sadly, she moved onto pastures new and her replacement was the complete opposite. He insisted that I was in the office when I wasn’t abroad. If I had an afternoon flight, he would expect that I went into the office first thing that morning. He checked everything I did, as I did it. This all resulted in me being extremely demotivated and eventually leaving.

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If we take a look at the £600m lost per day through the snow, how much of that would have been saved if employees were equipped to work remotely?

To get remote working efficiently it does take a little work. In my view the following are the key things needed to make it a success:

  1. Trust
  2. A strong team, committed and coupled with a shared sense of feeling like part of a team.
  3. Management by results
  4. A strong communication channel
  5. Technology

Technology exists today to share documents, receive email, re-route calls, hold video conferences and instant message. Virtual workspaces can now be created with the click of a button and we can have a virtual PA waiting on the end of a phone line. The key is to recruiting the right team, setting shared goals and empowering people to deliver.

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