Check out some of our best feature articles in 2020
Sunday Business Post Article – June 28th 2020
Three steps to making dual working a success
The way we work has been flipped on its head. Almost over-night we went from working predominantly in the office to becoming a nation of remote workers. Putting this into context, a recent HRLocker survey of 370 Irish businesses revealed that prior to the crisis, less than 10% of employees regularly worked remotely at 61% of organisations. Now 73% of companies claim more than 75% of their workforce is working remotely.
More significantly, with organisations reporting rises in productivity and employee morale, 8 in ten businesses plan to introduce some form of long-term dual working model, where employees split their working week between the office and home.
But such new models are not without their own set of challenges. Where once staff requested to work from home, employers are likely to see a lot more requests to work from the office, as employees seek variety, in-person interaction with their colleagues and a desire to feel part of the organisation for which they work. As employers and managers, it is up to us to create an environment that gets the very best from our people.
Here are three measures to take to make dual working work for your business:
- Get tech enabled
To maintain business continuity, virtually all organisations have had to digitise their operations to some extent. While technologies like Zoom and Teams, that enable better communications, are a no-brainer for businesses, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
As the economy re-opens, make your workers’ lives easier by using technology to help them plan their time. HR platforms can help employees book their time in or out of the office, manage annual/ sick leave and track their time; all tasks that would otherwise take up countless hours on HR admin.
Any technology you introduce, however, must improve the employee experience, whether they’re working from the office or from home. Those that add to their administrative burden are destined to fail.
- Don’t neglect culture
The thing about culture is that every organisation has one. When everyone was in the office, it was easier to manage: People practiced what they saw their peers and leadership doing. With more people working remotely, we no longer have that luxury.
In order to ensure adherence to the values of your business, it is important to clearly define the qualities and behaviours that exemplify those values. Involving your employees in this exercise can be hugely valuable, both in terms of understanding how they see your company and gaining their support for the culture you wish to cultivate.
- Remember your duty of care
As employers we have a responsibility for the wellbeing of our employees. With social distancing and heightened hygiene practises mandated for all businesses reopening their offices, it can be easy to forget about those working from home. Remember though, just because your staff aren’t in the office, doesn’t mean your duty of care is waived. You still have a duty of care for their physical and mental wellbeing.
In addition to checking-in frequently, monitoring their workloads and keeping an eye (or ear) out for any signs of underlying stress, proactively take measures to support them, such as access to mindfulness tools, employee net promoter scores (ENPS) and virtual social events.
Done correctly, there are huge benefits to dual working. I firmly believe the companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working will emerge stronger and more successful in the long-run.
Adam Coleman is CEO at HRLocker
Sillicon Republic Article
Is Remote Working Here to Stay?
Employers and employees are starting to think about life after Covid-19 restrictions are eased, and many believe that hybrid working will become the norm going forward.
How we will work in the future has been a topic of debate for a long time now. But with the sudden shift to remote working in recent months, employers are now faced with making an important decision about working life beyond Covid-19.
Hybrid working models are one avenue many businesses may be looking to take in the coming weeks and months as restrictions are eased. In a hybrid working arrangement, there is a mix of people working in the office and from home or other remote locations.
This may involve some staff working in the office full-time and others outside of it full-time, or a more flexible schedule where different people will be in the office on different days of the week.
A recent survey by the Institute of Directors in Ireland suggested that many business leaders in Ireland have identified a hybrid working model as the way forward. Only one in eight surveyed said they believe all staff will be back in the office after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Tech workers don’t want to go back to the office full-time
In another recent survey by Dublin Tech Talks of 3,500 technology professionals in Ireland, 90pc said they do not intend to return to working from the office full-time after the pandemic. However, only one in five said they plan to work remotely full-time.
Although 85pc said they were happy with how their leaders had handled the challenges of the past few months, 42pc said they were anxious about their employer’s capacity to implement physical distancing in the office.
Three-quarters of respondents said they don’t want to commute to the office more than three days a week, and almost one-third said they are worried about travelling to work on public transport.
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Gavin Fox, founder of Dublin Tech Talks, said: “Despite the economic challenges of Covid-19, demand for tech talent has actually increased as organisations rush to digitise their operations.
“From our research, it’s clear that employers will need to make remote working common practice while providing access to a safe space.”
Employers plan to encourage more remote working. But what are employers planning going forward? HRLocker surveyed 370 CEOs and CHROs, and more than three-quarters said they plan to encourage their employees to work remotely more often after restrictions are lifted.
Most indicated plans to adopt a form of hybrid or ‘dual’ working, where employees split their time between the office and home. Almost half said that in such a model, employees would spend a minimum of three days out of the office every week. Just 14pc of participants said they don’t see remote working as a feasible option.
The main reasons cited for introducing more remote working was to create a better work-life balance for employees, and encourage cost savings and higher productivity levels.
Adam Coleman, CEO of HRLocker, said: “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working … I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”
However, Coleman also emphasised the importance of continuing to provide robust wellbeing initiatives for hybrid teams. “Remote working presents its own set of HR challenges that must be addressed if it is to be sustainable in the long term. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.
“Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable and they are engaged. A happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.”
Working from home such a success that many firms plan to continue
More than three-quarters of businesses plan to encourage employees to work from home more often when lockdown ends, a new survey has revealed.
However, for many it may not be a full-time domestic set-up, with ‘dual working’ between the office and home being favoured by many firms.
With movement restrictions forcing employees to work remotely during the pandemic, it appears to have been a success for many organisations, as the majority now want it to remain a long-term feature of their business.
A poll carried out by software firm HRLocker on 370 CEOs and chief human resources officers found that due to the success many companies want to introduce a form of ‘dual working’, where workers split their time between home and the office.
More than 40 per cent plan for employees to spend a minimum of three days out of the office. The main reason given for this switch to dual working is to create a better work/life balance for employees (83 per cent), followed by cost savings, such as office rent and travel subsidies (55 per cent).
Just 14% of companies surveyed said remote work was not a feasible option for its employees.
HRLocker CEO Adam Coleman said working from home can increase creativity and innovation. ‘It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working,’ he said. ‘I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.’
However, there were downsides to remote working, as employee stress was a concern for almost half of companies. Despite these concerns, only one in five admit they have done nothing for employee well-being.
‘Remote working presents its own set of HR challenges that must be addressed if it is to be sustainable in the long term,’Coleman added.
‘Out of sight should not mean out of mind. Adequate processes and tools must be introduced to ensure those working remotely do not begin to feel isolated, that their workloads are manageable, and they are engaged.’
Talint International Article
67% of businesses to retain some remote working post-COVID-19
More than two thirds (67%) of organisations expect to encourage staff to work remotely more often after lockdown, according to a survey by HRLocker. A quarter (26%) expect to significantly increase remote working.
Companies are looking to do this to provide workers with a better work / life balance (73%) and to make cost savings (58%). Most businesses (93%) are using technology to manage employees. Employers have been concerned about employees’ stress during the lockdown (35%), but this has been overshadowed by worries around sales, which have been challenging for 52% of respondents.
Adam Coleman, CEO at HRLocker, commented, “It’s crazy to think it took a pandemic for us to realise the multiple benefits of dual working. Beyond the initial indicators in this report, dual working can support innovation and collaboration, increase creativity and reduce unconscious bias. I believe companies that embrace the shift to this healthier, more efficient way of working, will emerge stronger and more successful in the long run.”
The Future of flexible work – dual working
Adam Coleman is CEO of HRLocker, a cloud-based HR platform, which now serves more than 20,000 daily users in more than 55 countries from its headquarters in Lahinch, Co Clare. While the company has had a flexible working approach since it started, Adam shares what he’s learned about how the recent restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 have prompted some lasting changes in how the company operates.
A lot’s been said about how the Covid-19 restrictions are likely to spark a surge in working from home, or remote and flexible working. So it’s worth asking the question: when life and work start to return to normal as the restrictions ease, will things go back to way they were, or will it change our behaviour?
Many businesses that would never have considered remote working before are now discovering how productivity levels have gone up or stayed the same. It’s changing the perception of individuals who might never have contemplated working from home on a more permanent basis. There is a growing acceptance that dual working arrangements could become the norm going forward.
What you do, not where you go.
Then there are wider benefits to the business, like being able to retain excellent staff who might have otherwise left if they were relocating or in search of more flexible working conditions. And when location no longer affects someone’s ability to work well, suddenly it opens up a much wider talent pool to recruit from, beyond people who happen to live within commuting distance of the office.
But let’s be clear about one thing first: there’s working from home, and then there’s working from home during Covid-19. Anyone who had worked remotely before the Coronavirus struck will tell you there’s a world of difference between having a designated work space at home, compared to working from home when you’re sharing that space with a partner, as well as children who need home schooling or supervision.
I can speak as someone who’s been an advocate for flexible working for a long time. When I founded HRLocker back in 2004, I set it up from Lahinch in the West of Ireland after moving back there from the UK. HRLocker began as a HR consultancy, then in 2008 when the downturn hit, we had to scale back the business and reinvent ourselves. Together with Assembly Point, a software development company in Cork, we developed an online product. This started getting real traction from late 2013. The beauty of being cloud-based is that it enables the HRLocker team to work from anywhere. So far, we have attracted people from Galway, Dublin, the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
Productive in a pinch.
We use a technology stack that’s designed to let people get productive from any desk within three minutes. As the business grew, we built an open, transparent meritocracy based on dual working, a concept that combined people coming to the office for some of the week and working from home at other times.
But then the Covid-19 restrictions happened, and everything changed.
From a technology point of view, we found the jump to being a fully remote company easy. We haven’t needed to start using new tools as a result of working remotely. We were already using a cloud based phone system (3Connect) very successfully for example, this meant we could easily divert calls to mobiles no matter where we happen to be working. It also lets us dial out using a number that’s local to the region our customers are in, like the UK or USA, which is critical for sales.
Even though we had the tools and we were already familiar with them, we still needed to make the mental leap. When the restrictions began in March, it took the team a few weeks to get reasonably comfortable with a new rhythm of work, and we needed to make some adjustments along the way based on early feedback.
Lessons from lockdown: making remote work, work.
Our mindset has even changed in that, now we can see how 100% remote can work, and after six weeks, we can say it is working – but it took effort. So what did we learn?
When people can’t come to the office, the conversations, collaboration and sharing of ideas that would happen organically in an office setting aren’t available to us. Collaboration has to be scheduled and designed. For example, we hold an ‘all hands’ meeting for the entire team on a Monday, a management meeting on a Tuesday and I have a dedicated 40 minute catch-up with all of the people who report to me, every week. Our sales team has daily meetings at either 9am or at 4.30, rarely for more than 15 minutes.
Leadership 101: empathy and understanding.
More than ever, businesses need to coach their leaders in empathy. I can’t emphasise this enough. It’s a manager’s job to be attuned to their team’s needs. In the office, it’s much easier to read visual cues if someone is unfocused or worried. In a remote setting, it’s only by asking direct questions and listening attentively to the answers that managers can get a feel for how people are coping – or not. If someone on the team has a problem, the manager needs to empathise and understand that they might need some leeway on a deadline if they’re dealing with personal issues.
The lesson for businesses is to understand how their people want to communicate and make decisions. Some people are perfectly happy to dive into the detail of a discussion as soon as a call starts, other people need time for small talk before tackling the issue at hand, and you’ve got to allow for both approaches. The same is true of teams: one size doesn’t fit all so you might need a different approach for marketing than for billing or development.
Learning as you work.
Ultimately, work in all its forms – dual, remote, or flexible – comes back to people. Making it a success starts with hiring individuals who are comfortable with evolving ways of work, or else they’ll find it difficult.
As this crisis should teach us, remote working is about so much more than having a policy or ticking a box. This is about adult development, and about empowering them to do their jobs as well as possible, wherever that’s possible.
Adam Coleman will be sharing his experiences in an upcoming webinar hosted by Three, which will look at flexible working after Covid-19: the culture, tools, policies and practices that will change how your business works. For more information email email@example.com. For further information about HRLocker visit www.HRLocker.com.
Sunday Business Post
Clearly defined principles help firms transition to WFH
Do you trust your people to be productive while they work from home? Have you put all the correct measures in place to allow your employees to work in a dispersed way?
For many managers and employers unfamiliar with remote working, the transition is proving Challenging, particularly in cases where individuals are underperforming. It would be easy to lay the blame at their virtual feet, but ultimately it falls to the manager to encourage behaviours that promote productivity In order to do this, it’s important to define your principles. What is fundamentally important to your business? What makes you different to everyone else, and what are you trying to achieve?
Next, you will need to look at the behaviours you need to instil in your staff to ensure that these principles filter down to all parts of the business and how it operates. Once you’ve agreed on a principle, give it a title and create a draft definition.
Workshop it with the rest of your employees online. Ask each workshop participant to put forward suggestions for “what good looks like” under that principle. This way you’ll have their buy-in and there can be no confusion over what is expected of them.
When the workshops are completed, mix all the findings and come up with an agreed title and definition and an outline of “what good looks like”. While every organisation will have its own nuances, here is a snapshot of our own three core principles and three core behaviours.
For us, this is about maintaining and promoting social, business, ethical and organisational norms across all of our internal and external business activities. Putting it into practice, we expect all of our employees to maintain confidentiality, meet personal and business commitments and adhere to the company’s policies and procedures.
A firm’s core principles must filter down to all its staff
Trust and truth
Trust and truth are the foundations of remote-working success. Without them, it cannot work, but it’s a two-way thing. We ask that our employees have trust in the company’s actions and be truthful to the company at all times.
We operate an open transparent meritocracy As such, our employees have a duty to the company and to themselves. We believe wholeheartedly that their development, performance and relationships will lead to success for them personally and for the company as a whole. The three behaviours we have defined in order to ensure we uphold these principles are as follows:
Behaviour 1: Flexibility
For us, this is about maintaining effectiveness in varying environments and with regard to differing tasks, responsibilities and people. It is about continually seeking new and better ways of working and becoming more efficient and simplistic. Delivering on this behaviour means:
applying an agile approach to work at all times;
adjusting our behaviour to others’ style in order to promote efficiency;
changing priorities to meet the changing demands of our business and clients;
adjusting quickly to new responsibilities and tasks.
We’ve defined this as working effectively with others, both inside and outside our team, in order to accomplish organisational goals and to establish and maintain good working relationships. It is also about taking actions that respect the needs and the success of the business and the contribution of others. In practice this means:
establishing and building good interpersonal relationships, not keeping secrets relating to work and supporting and listening to others;
asking for help and encouraging involvement, sharing thoughts, feelings and rationale, and exchanging information freely;
building on and developing our own and others’ ideas, and supporting company decisions when appropriate, even when they are in conflict with our own;
clarifying situations and facilitating agreement when needed.
Behaviour 3: Initiative and execution
This is about “self-starting” and taking the prompt action required to achieve objectives. It works well when employees:
take immediate action when they are confronted with a problem;
implement new ideas and solutions without prompting;
take action that goes beyond the basic requirements of the job in order to achieve company objectives;
generate ideas that could improve work processes and practices;
take advantage of opportunities for self-improvement when presented.
Adam Coleman is chief executive at HRLocker
The Sunday Business Post
Six Big Questions from Six Tech Experts
Leaders Questions and Answers
Check out some of our best feature articles in 2020
The Sunday Business Post
Tread softly as a remote manager
Whether it was common practice at your organisation before the Covid-19 pandemic or not, working from home is now the “new normal”.
With limited face-time and more work being done by email, managers must pay particular attention to the way they manage staff.
The skills that were so effective in the office may prove useless – or even harmful – in the world of remote working.
Here are the soft skills you need to hone to be a successful remote manager.
Do you trust your team to be productive while they work from home? That’s the biggest question you need to ask. There are probably some employees in whom you have complete faith, and then there are those in whom you don’t. It can be tempting to micro-manage those you think may lack initiative. Don’t do it. Nothing kills motivation, morale and productivity like having someone looking over your shoulder, even virtually. Instead, business leaders need to see this as an opportunity to encourage and inspire team members to take ownership of the job at hand. Delegate specific tasks and projects to each individual, hold them accountable and be positive; this is their chance to rise to the challenge. You should use conferencing and project management software to monitor productivity. Just remember they are tools and not a cure-all.
Now is not the time for indecision. In the midst of this uncertainty, employees are looking to leadership for guidance and stability. Taking a structured approach to decision-making, assessing the situation and the options available, and clearly explaining the choice you make will instil purpose and confidence in your team.
Common decision-making pitfalls to avoid include:
• Trusting your gut over facts. Take the time to assess the information available.
• Over-thinking a decision. While it’s important not to rush to a conclusion, time is a factor not to be ignored.
• Getting caught up in minutiae.
• Making binary decisions. More often than not, there are more options than just A or B. With the rules changing day by day, it’s important to remain flexible in your thinking.
Elements to factor into your decision-making include taking an agile approach to work, being able to refocus the team’s priorities and adapting to the shifting demands of the business and its clients.
A bunch of employees sitting in the same office does not constitute a team. It takes a leader to bring them together as a functioning unit. As the captain of your team, it is your job to unite everyone to accomplish the organisation’s goals, leveraging their individual strengths, setting goals and openly acknowledging their effort. Just because you’re all working remotely now doesn’t make you any less of a team. On the contrary, the current crisis has the potential to create tighter, more aligned teams. Beyond setting goals, it is essential to incorporate less formal, more social team gatherings that support your culture and allow your team to bond.
Some activities that can help include:
• Hosting a team morning- coffee or water-cooler video chat;
• Setting up team chats on WhatsApp around Netflix, pets, working with the kids at home, etc;
• Setting up tournaments with daily brain teasers.
As managers, we all need to be more empathic than usual to our employees. We don’t know how the crisis is affecting each individual. Do they have children whom they need to look after during the day? Have any of their family tested positive for Covid-19? What is their mental health like and how might the increased isolation affect them? These are just some of the considerations to take on board. Encourage your team to share any difficulties they are experiencing. Monitor workloads and watch for signs that someone might be struggling. While a regimented approach might get you some quick wins, in the long run, a lack of empathy will only lead to disengagement, mistrust and reduced productivity.
With no definitive end in sight for the lockdown, businesses must adapt their models and their management styles around remote working, promoting an environment that is committed to the continued success of the organisation and its people.
Adam Coleman is chief executive at HRLocker
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