COVID-19 and remote working practices
Bullet are past masters of what it means to operate a distributed remote workforce. Here they provide their insight and advice for other companies
With the COVID-19 virus taking hold on our country and the rest of the world it has forced us to change how to do the most basic things including how we go to work. For a lot of people, this means now being forced to work from home for those employers who have the foresight to allow it and have a business structure where remote working is possible for employees to achieve their job objectives.
Of course, working from home is not necessarily that new. It has been around for decades, even centuries. In our global technological world, we are now able to do any things that were only possible by doing them in person. Before the advent of the phone, you either wrote a letter or had a physical meeting with other people.
When people hear the term “Working from home” or the acronym “WFH” it immediately conjures up an image of the office worker with their dining room table, laptop, mobile and an internet connection. I’m sure there are many of these scenarios happening right now.
At Bullet, we have a distributed workforce and have done for many years. In fact, even though we have our office in Canterbury shared with sister company Red Bullet most of our employees do not visit regularly. Because of the nature of what we do (clever things on the internet) and who we employ (clever people on the internet), we have a virtual office or at least a very strong remote setup that enables us to achieve everything we need to do.
We do sometimes have client meetings but much of what we do is done over the communications tools we employ like Slack, Zoom and Basecamp. We don’t just work from home; we embrace it. We take advantage of the medium. Utilising shared resources like Google Drive. We employ the best practices when using audio: Who wants to hear a garbled conversation? The written word is important and quick messages via Slack can be very effective unless more detail is required or visual aids are needed and then we switch seamlessly to Zoom.
COVID-19 has been a massive shock for all of us. Currently, we do not know its true infection rate, how people are infected and maybe crucially of all do we gain any form of immunity once we have had it. The bottom line is that this virus is here to stay and unless they can develop an effective vaccine and tests it will continue to rule our lives. A vaccine is said to be about 18 months away so we could well be in for the long haul on this.
This means that as we are only a few days into lockdown we will have to get used to what we are doing now and look to improve how we do things go forward through the next few months, maybe even a year or more.
At Bullet, we are already geared up for this WFH model more than a lot of other companies. Not embracing remote working properly can lead to increased stress levels and possibly mental health issues. We feel we can help in this regard by providing advice for any companies that need to learn from our experience in long term remote working.
There are still companies who do not necessarily agree with employees working from home. This is because they adopt the ‘factory’ model. This is where if you hadn’t clocked in you weren’t at work. Our ethos is that if you deliver in your job then when you do and where you do it is fairly inconsequential apart from being around for say communications with our clients and responding to their needs. If you want to go out for a 2-hour bike ride or walk we don’t mind if it adds to your wellbeing and improves your general health.
As a result, this leads to other factors that are very advantageous when working from home. The dynamics of meetings change. Input and feedback can be more considered and thought out. Maybe more introverted staff are more prepared to speak up with great ideas than they would in the cauldron of a big meeting with their peers. There are many aspects that become disrupters to the ‘factory’ model.
If you want to contact us for any advice on how to restructure your working practices more effectively we would be very happy to help on various areas including:
Bullet Digital Solutions is a company with a wealth of experience in providing digital solutions to the private and public sector with clients such as Santander, EE, Expedia and several councils and NHS CCGs. We are accredited with Cyber Essentials security and are a Crown Commercial Supplier with products on the GCloud11/12 and the Government Digital Marketplace