January 4, 2021

Leaders of Tech Webinar: Working from Anywhere

James Bowles joined a panel of industry experts to facilitate a discussion on Working from Anywhere, how to support and secure your virtual workforce. The panel consisted of Director of Support at Shopify, John Riordan, Cyber Security Leader, Máire Sogabe and CMO of Workvivo, Pete Rawlinson.

Throughout the discussion we explored the challenges and opportunities that working from anywhere presents to companies, individuals and government. The idea behind the discussion, or rather the question, was “is it possible to have a fully remote working office?” And if so, how exactly do you implement it?

This is an urgent question that has been asked of businesses, without warning. Covid-19 has thrown many organisations into the deep end when it comes to remote working. We looked at the differences and difficulties that companies might run into from the perspectives of people like John Riordan of Shopify, who has always worked from a remote working model in comparison to Pete Rawlinson who has had to adapt to this ‘new normal’ and sees a hybrid model being the norm in the future. Maire Sogabe also imparted her knowledge from the point of view of culture and maintaining strong company culture while working remotely.

We wanted to discover whether some businesses will ever go back to the standard five-day office routine, what affect will this pandemic have on the office and what model will work best going forward. The general consensus is that a new hybrid model will need to be adopted by companies, to retain the very best talent who now demand flexibility. A fully remote model can and has been successful – time will tell how mainstream fully remote business models become, a major concern being collaboration.

Panellists discussed many scenarios and answered questions from the audience. Immediately, an apparent theme was how companies will adapt to these new times and how will they maintain the culture they had worked so hard to build up in the first place. With no more physical interactions, how do you ensure your employees are happy with this new environment and make sure their day to day well-being is being protected? Culture is so important and it requires a new leadership style centred around trust.

Elaine Deehan, a member of Leaders of Tech and previous panellist, asked a great question that opened up a big discussion. She asked about people who are starting out in their careers and have less experience in the workforce. The general consensus was that building up a strong network is essential! Building a network is easier to do than ever with access to groups, communities and leaders around the world, our advice is to get involved!

Some tips include investing time in reaching out to people who can serious impact on your career. For leaders and managers, it is crucial to build this into your employee’s development plan and coach, mentor, share tips and tricks on how to build a strong network!

Some highlights from the event included:

"Culture is invisible in the workplace but you can feel it and if it is good it is smooth sailing” Máire Sogabe - Cyber Security Leader

"You don’t wish to go back to the office when you are deliberately remote, in a sense you’re not looking over the wall at what you had” John Riordan - Shopify Director of Support

"We’ll see a movement towards a hybrid model but face to face interactions can’t become an occasion" Pete Rawlinson - CMO of Workvivo

“Virtual culture happened overnight before companies had the chance to acclimatise”

“Trust in your workforce will become more important than ever, management must learn to adapt a new style and trust that their staff are doing all tasks at hand without overseeing it physically. The last thing you want when a manager calls is to feel dread”

I would like to thank the excellent panellists for their time and sharing their stories, insights and experience with our community - Thanks to Máire Sogabe, Cyber Security leader, John Riordan of Shopify and Pete Rawlinson of Workvivo. Also, a huge thanks to all the attendees who took time out of their day to tune in, Thank you.

Watch the full webinar here:

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