Business leaders from across the South West have taken part in the latest Technology for Success Business Group (virtual) gathering.
Switching from the regular Exeter Science Park meeting to a virtual conference call, the event covered remote working, tech solutions and people’s thoughts and reflections at the end of a tumultuous week.
The bi-monthly Technology for Success Business Group meetings have become a staple in the business calendar and a chance to share and discuss top tech trends, facilitated by the expertise of Timewade’s Julian Wills and Jordan Westcott.
The event revealed the different ways SMEs in the region are finding the process of setting up remote working. Some reported that they have found the transition relatively smooth whilst others are facing challenges as they get to grips with managing dispersed staff, keeping internal communication channels open and integrating personal devices into work processes.
Without knowing how long this new working routine might last, Friday’s call was a great way to touch base with other businesses and share tips, tricks and ideas on how to make the new work environment more secure and manageable.
Joining Julian of Timewade in the session were Vikram Kamerkar and Tom Langdon-Davies from Minerva Lifelong Learning, Magda King from King Recruit, John Lewis from Neat Strategy, Sky Randall from Sarah West Recruit, Rhian Huxtable from Insight 6, Andrew Ellis from Like Minds, Anthony Peake from Agile Datum, Judith Ludovino from TelePA and Dan Pritchard, Elle Taylor and Joe Bevan from Astley Media.
There was a discussion on how this new way of working impacts businesses’ processes, and the changes and tech solutions they are adapting to and making use of.
The importance of keeping communications open to avoid social isolation and to maintain contact with staff was also a hot topic. Anthony Peake from Agile Datum shared how his team are having coffee breaks via video conferencing to retain the social element of the office. Dan Pritchard from Astley Media shared how his PR and Marketing agency are spicing up video conferences by setting fancy dress challenges – this has kept the team’s spirits-up in these potentially lonely and challenging times.
Discussions moved on to practical considerations – which technology solutions businesses are finding useful, and what concrete steps they are taking to integrate their processes across a remote working environment.
Rhian from Insight6 shared how his team has created a free survey for businesses and employees to measure how well they are adapting to the new environment, including whether their communications are effective, and if all staff have the tools to work well. The results from the survey will help businesses to adapt now, and provide an understanding of how they can respond more effectively to future challenges.
These are our Top Ten Tips for working effectively wherever you are based:
- Be secure. When accessing office data from various internet networks and domestic devices, keeping files encrypted and firewalls in place can be tricky. You also need to be vigilant about the increased phishing attacks that take place when day-to-day communications move to the virtual space.
- Show your face. Video call programmes like Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom are a great way to maintain human contact with your staff and hold virtual meetings.
- Trust. With your staff dispersed, making sure they are all on task can be difficult. It’s important to have a good team culture and be outcomes-orientated. Applications that allow collaboration from multiple locations, like Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint or Google Docs/Sheets, can be useful to keep everyone singing from the same spreadsheet.
- Communicate. Check in with your staff regularly. Use chat platforms like Slack to communicate within teams and use a messaging app like WhatsApp or Telegram to keep in touch. More informal conversations and funny memes are very important!
- Experiment. Adopting new ways of working can be challenging, but it is also an opportunity to try out new methods and processes that could be useful for your business in the future when the ‘normal’ routine resumes.
- Take a break. The paradox of working from home is that it’s easy to forget to stop every now and again. Have a walk round the garden, make a cup of tea or go and play with the dog for five minutes.
- Get your Tech sorted. Make sure your staff have all they need to work effectively. If you have a VoIP telephone system, for example, your team can take their office phones home with them.
- Be comfortable. Perching on the kitchen table might be fine for a morning, but if you’re going to be working from home for longer periods you’ll need to get yourself a better set-up. Make sure your chair is good for your posture, use a screen to avoid hunching and stretch regularly.
- Share ideas. Speak with other members of the business community and learn from others about how they are adapting to the changing business landscape. Our dedicated LinkedIn Business Group is a great way to do this.
- Have a laugh. It can be frustrating trying to get to grips with new working practices, but in these challenging times keeping your sense of humour and having fun is more important than ever.
It was great to connect with the Business Group and see how effective virtual events can be for sharing ideas and insight. We will continue the conversation via our LinkedIn Business Group, which is free to join: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13834309/
The team at Timewade are happy to be contacted for free advice as your business transitions to remote working: firstname.lastname@example.org