By John Tate, Managing Director, ChangeBASE
To deliver the best software we need the best people. We are headquartered in London but recognised very early on that not all the top professionals are clustered around the capital. At ChangeBASE we have some of the world’s leading experts in our field and we simply could not attract such a high calibre team if we forced people to work from one central office. So in order to recruit the right staff we offer employment to people all over the UK and the world — and we are only able to do this by introducing flexible processes to support remote workers.
Although we are a relatively small company, we are recognised as having the leading products in our industry.
Mobile working has allowed us to compete with larger organisations due to our ability to attract the very best professionals from every region we operate in. As a company that is growing rapidly we need our business to be agile. We plan to add over 50 new staff members this year and because we have put processes in place to support remote staff, it is easy to integrate new starters into the team regardless of their location. We have also benefited from increased efficiency. As employees are not tethered to their desks, they can operate in an environment which is more suited to their style of working. Productivity has increased significantly as our staff can work while travelling to meetings and engagements.
Of course there are many challenges facing any organisation when deploying a mobile workforce. Despite living in a world that is more connected than ever, a lack of face-to-face contact runs the risk of a break-down in internal communication and this really is the key to making mobile working work for an organisation. We have found that while some may initially like the flexibility of working at home or being constantly on the move, they run the risk of beginning to feel separated from the company and colleagues.
There often remains the stigma of people working away from the office that they may be less engaged than office-based workers. However we see the opposite - that with our people having access to business applications all the time there is the temptation for them to be sucked into working too many hours.
The other challenge we have faced is costs, which have the potential to easily spiral out of control if rigorous measures are not put in place. One of our eager employees managed to spend over £4,000 on mobile data in one month while working out of the office.
It is important to recognise these challenges but be aware that there are effective ways to keep them in check. Our employees are encouraged to work a balanced day and we make sure they work the right amount of hours. Even though our staff are dispersed around the country and the world, we make sure everyone feels part of the company by holding regular all-hands staff meetings and we bring the whole company together for an annual ski-trip. Also to make sure our teams communicate effectively we have put in place systems so employees can hold regular conference calls and web meetings as and when they need to.
Mobile working has allowed us to produce industry leading software which has in turn allowed us to attract dozens of the top Fortune 500 companies as clients. Flexible working set our business up to achieve a record growth of 300 per cent in 2010 and triple the number of our employees. It has also allowed the company to expand overseas with ease, with staff able to work in different markets without us having to set up numerous offices around the world.
Modern businesses can only reach and operate to their full potential if all their staff are working at their best. In this increasingly connected world, businesses need to recognise that people need to have a professional and personal life that is flexible, and this often means being away from the office. Our employees can now work on the way to meetings, from home or from our partners’ offices and it has allowed us to continue to attract and retain the best people, meaning they can produce their best work and contribute their all to the ongoing success of the company.
Simply put, we would not be where we are today without our brilliant people.