Here goes… I'm 40 years old, lover of dogs and the surf, come from a small mining town in South Wales. I truly believe in amazing customer service; 'good' is not good enough in today's tech-savvy market.
My role at Wurkr.io is varied. At a small start-up, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into anything and everything, from Marketing, Sales, Customer Success (which is primarily what I do), product demos and onboarding new clients to tech support on occasion. I love it as we have customers all over the world now from India, New Zealand, Peru, Brazil and of course Europe. I love speaking to them and hearing their stories.
What made you take the leap into remote working?
My leap into remote is probably a little unorthodox. I was the guinea pig (as it transpired) for remote work for the software consultancy I was with back in 2013. After deciding it was time to start a family, my partner, who is from Gran Canaria, wanted to be close to her family.
In 2015, I had a conversation with my director about working remotely. After presenting my case and re-jigging my job to be less client-facing, it was agreed my role could be carried out remotely.
What do you think is the biggest fear companies have about adopting remote working?
This is a tricky question, as the fears are different for organisations. There is no one size fits all approach for working remotely. Personalities are different. Some thrive in an asynchronous environment, some prefer synchronous. Some companies fear a lack of productivity, though, this has been proven to be incorrect in recent times. For others, I believe the biggest fear is a loss of control, the "pyjama syndrome" and a lack of trust.
Other companies fear a loss of collaboration and barriers to communication. I think with today's digital society and companies like Wurkr.io, Slack this becoming less of a barrier. I encountered many of the same fears whilst helping non-tech companies transition to an agile mindset.
There are also the fears from a HR perspective, employee liability, how do you pay employees in different countries? Currently, you'd have to open an office in each country. I know companies who are working to alleviate this barrier. For some, there is a feeling that time spent with your bum on the seat in the office equals productivity. A misconception, in my opinion.
What do you think are the best benefits of remote working?
It's different for an employee and employer. For employees, work-life balance and the gift of time is probably the greatest benefit.
For employers, the ability to employ the best people regardless of location and the cost-saving on office space if they are remote-first.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced in this area?
For me, the biggest challenge was, at the time I went remote, that I was the only person working remotely for the company. This brought about a sense of disconnect and loneliness. We did not have a communication charter or remote-first culture. It took some time and we got to a good point, though feeling I wasn't part of the team (Monday morning banter) never really disappeared.
Is there anything you wish you could say about remote working?
Remote working is great although it's not for everyone or every company.
What advice do you have?
Ask your boss. Create a matrix for your job role to analyse what you can and can't do remotely and present the case to your MD. If it looks like it would not have a negative impact on you, your role or to the company, go for it! Enjoy it!
"Set your goals clearly and manage your calendar. Don't think that you have to be always "on" to constantly prove yourself to your employer and colleagues to justify working remotely. This takes some time to get over, in my experience."
My advice to an employer would again be not to fear the change. I would definitely advise creating a communication charter and speaking with a remote working consultant to implement this culture. Start off small, take an iterative approach. Maybe a few days a week of working from home.
Ask your team their thoughts on working remotely. Perhaps start off with a small team to iron out any snags before launching company-wide. I suggest using a platform like wurkr.io to streamline the transition and alleviate some of the concerns of trust, loneliness, communication and synchronous collaboration from the start.
Thank you to Matthew for his time and candidness! If you'd like to talk to us about how your company could adopt remote working in some capacity, we'd love to talk. Contact us here.