A Smart Decision?

By Leaders of Tech Member, Mark Fitzgerald

It’s been over a year since my first article, so I like to think I have something half-interesting to share. 

To set the scene, we're 18 months into our smart working journey. In my first blog, I simply highlighted what we did to kick off this initiative and some of the quick wins that accelerated this adoption. 

Looking around the office, it's safe to say smart working has been embraced. Our physical footprint is 40-50% of what we were - so much so that back in December we swapped office floors with our EdTech sister company Wriggle Learning who are multiplying in size.  

In July, we conducted a short 3 x Q staff survey (took 3 mins to create via Microsoft Forms), and asked everyone ‘What value do you place on the ability to work from home in your role? (0 – none to 10 – huge value)’. The average score was 9

Smart working has been incorporated into almost every position that we’ve recruited for. Glad to say our very first remote hire Barbara from Mayo (March 2018) is still with us and has obtained legendary status. We added another Rockstar Jerry from Kerry in March this year who welcomed his first child, Tara-Lee into the world this summer. And the excellent Laura joined us as Technical Program Manager… who has the luxury (or misfortune) of being based still relatively close to the offices from her Wicklow home. We have also hired more in-house based roles too this year.....of equal brilliance. But this is just to show the reach of talent does go beyond Dublin! 

Two challenges we anticipated from the outset were around Communication & Community. We've got a great culture, but now not all the team would be physically interacting with each other. It was a seamless transition into running our weekly sales/projects/operations meetings via Microsoft Teams. Funnily enough, it took a brand-new hire switching on her video camera for the first meeting to make us ask ourselves why we never switched video on. Now the video is central to every Teams call we do and default. 

However, what that recent staff survey pointed out to senior management is that our company communication could still be improved. We cracked heads and in September kicked off two new communication forums: 

First: An informal company update with everyone (just FYI team of 35 staff here in Typetec). Recorded via Teams with people in the boardroom, dialling in or watching it later, on-demand. The days of dragging everyone into the office are now gone and that scheduling headache. In this 20-minute meeting, we share company progress based on two key metrics (Seat count growth and Net Promoter Score). We also take this opportunity to recognise any staff who’ve been nominated by peers as a ‘Legend’ that month for going above and beyond to help someone on the team. In short from Finance to Service to Sales, everyone knows what’s happening and how we’re doing. 

Second: A weekly upload from one member of staff to share something topical or interesting that week and something that the team probably don’t know about you. It’s a bit of fun and is social driven – in a way replacing some of the water cooler chats that are missing for remote staff. The video ends with ‘tagging’ someone who you don’t regularly work with who is up the following week. Our youngest member of the team Andy really set the bar high in the first one and only got higher week by week (props, augmented filters you name it!). Our CEO has just been called out this week so think we’re going to have to order the popcorn in. 

These recordings through Teams are posted to our internal Sharepoint Site…..effectively the ‘Go-To’ place for company news and updates etc.……and now a high probability of embarrassing video content! 

Technology and Trust are the only things you really need from a smart working perspective- people can overcomplicate it. A lot of companies already have these toolsets in their current Microsoft licensing so it’s simply an adoption decision as opposed to investment so ask the question of your IT partner or colleague. 

It’s still early days but interesting to see how our new community develops. Feel free to DM me if you have any questions around what we’ve done. 

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