Lessons Learnt- Managing a Remote Workforce
The pandemic has taught us many things. Avoiding social media spoilers when binge-watching a TV series would be one example. Another would be the sheer array of snacks available from supermarkets and their ideal wine companions.
More commercially, we have all had to learn how to work remotely from our teams. At Cashroom we deploy around 100 staff, operating securely, compliantly, and efficiently. How did we do it?
We have always worked remotely from our 200 law firm clients. Before it became mandated late in March 2020, we had decided that for the safety of our staff we would have everyone (at the time around 85 people) working from home.
The first step in this process was that we had a plan. It wasn’t, I’ll admit, designed for a pandemic! But it worked just the same-
It meant that we had in place-
- The right tech gear- laptops that were secure. VPN tech. A secure portal for communication. Two-factor authentications etc. Working remotely is never as simple as simply sending staff home with a laptop! We are responsible for handling client money movement so we had to take security and risk avoidance very carefully.
- Processes for team management- monitoring, supervision, support, interaction- all were planned out and put into motion. This meant that regular meetings were scheduled and board members and senior management were available for regular catch-ups with all staff. We have continued to learn as we’ve gone along and tweaked things where necessary.
- Activity management- our secure communication portal was invaluable for ensuring that tasks were carried out. Our managers and our clients have a dashboard view of activity, which helped massively with resource planning and monitoring of outstanding tasks.
- Wellbeing and culture- This was probably an area that caught out most firms, as the duration of the restrictions ended up far longer than first anticipated. We have worked hard to support our people, with little gifts, lots of saying thank you, and more practical things like mental health helplines and regular meetings that are just to check in on people. We have also strived to work within our company values and culture and have created new training and induction methods to support newcomers – yes we have grown during the pandemic.
- Communication- we have held far more regular staff updates and we carry out staff (and client) surveys every month to try and understand and respond to any issues. This has really helped with monitoring morale. We have also embraced the idea that at meetings it is often valuable to ask the simple question “How is everyone?” and actively seeking a response. We have used tools to make answering that question a little easier.
All these things have meant we have been more productive than ever. Our client referrals from happy customers have been our top source of new business, and our productivity has never been better. We intend to go back to our offices only partially when the rules relax, and will use what we have learned to continue with this way of working going forward. We now have around 100 people with more on the way, and we are fully confident that this way of working is the best way ahead for our staff, and for our clients.
I’ve no doubt there will be further lessons to be learned as we move back to a hybrid approach to remote and office working, so perhaps the greatest lesson of all has been the need to be agile in our thinking- to be ready and able to spot the need for change, and react.
Then again maybe the greatest lesson is that a bag of Frazzles goes really well with a chilled sauvignon blanc.
Author: Alex Holt, The Cashroom