What we’ve learned

There is a lot of talk at the moment about business resilience and remote working. Without making a drama out of a crisis, we’d like to share some of the things that we’ve learned while developing Harbour Assist and growing our company, Viking Systems Ltd.

A Cloud Company

Viking Systems is effectively a ‘Cloud Company’ – we are a legal entity, employ people and deliver a product, but we don’t share a single workspace. Our team is dispersed across the UK and the USA. We rarely get together physically, but we are extremely productive.

How do we make it work?

1.     Trust

Successful remote working requires conscious effort by both managers and staff. Both parties have to buy-in to the pros and cons of the situation – mutual trust is key.

Managers have to trust their teams to be available during core hours and to deliver the required work.  Micromanagement is not a successful practice for dispersed organisations!

2.     Communications

We can’t replicate the social element of a shared workspace, but we work hard on team communications to keep everyone connected.  We start each day with a team call, and we make use of Teams and Skype for video and chat throughout the day.

3.     Safe working

It’s fairly obvious that companies expecting staff to work away from the office will have to invest in suitable hardware and software. However, health and safety legislation and the employer’s duty of care still applies to home workers – you can’t just send them home with a laptop and hope for the best.

4.     GDPR

Dust off your data policy and update it for remote workers. You may need to make changes to time-outs, passwords and access levels. Don’t forget about work devices like mobiles and tablets that are used outside of the office.

5.     More trust

We’ve already mentioned trust, but it’s worth saying it again. Without trust, remote working can’t be effective. It is possible to use tech to track employees – GPS transmitters on vehicles, keystroke count software, electronic time sheets – but we don’t think it’s a great way to build a business.

In conclusion

Remote working works for us as a business. We develop our product remotely, we demonstrate our product remotely, we don’t need to visit our customers to install or update our product, and we can train and support customers remotely.

Remote working also works for us personally. Being flexible enables team members to handle the school run or go for a walk and still get their work done.

There are wider benefits too. We’re not snarled in commuter traffic pumping out CO2, and we’re not spending money on expensive offices.

How can we help your business?

If you’d like to talk about how Harbour Assist can help your business to connect with your customers,  email Nick direct nick.gill@harbourassist.com