Everything we’ve learned from operating a remote and flexible working culture

Ledger Bennett Insights, Talent & Resourcing

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It’s worth noting from the off, that Ledger Bennett are huge advocates of remote and flexible working. We know this because we’ve been on the journey, made the mistakes, faced the challenges and celebrated the highs and the lows and we’ve come out of the other end with more energy, more rigor and more belief that a remote and flexible workforce is the future of the modern workplace.

LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Report highlighted that 72% of talent professionals agree that workplace flexibility (the option for employees to work when and where they choose) is extremely important in shaping the future of recruiting and talent. So with that, we thought it would be worth sharing our experiences.

Culture and values

Maintaining strong culture and values becomes even more important when you have a flexible and remote workforce. It also becomes more difficult to reinforce it. A good place to start when shaping a culture for remote workers is to look at the positives of remote and flexible working from an employee point of view.

Embracing natural advantages to remote and flexible working such as increased productivity; shorter more energetic meetings and an expansive and diverse talent pool can all be reinforced as positive aspects of your working culture.

Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality and know and show how to replicate their success. Over time, they create a dedicated group of followers to help them replicate and scale their ideas into sustainable change not just in one company but in an industry, niche or across an entire ecosystem. Thought leaders are integral to the embedment and success of a high performing culture leading strong values that are naturally aligned to an organization’s vision.

Structure


On-boarding

Having a well thought out and consistent onboarding process for new employees is very helpful for setting the right tone from the outset. Facilitating face to face introductions with the new hire via video, sending them a welcome package by post if practical and providing them with a full and structured on-boarding training programme for their first month can all help to ensure employees feel part of the organisation.

Experience and Motivational Differences

Flexible and remote working isn’t for everyone. It’s important to make this part of your consideration when offering the option to staff or you could end up in some difficulty.

We’ve found junior members of the team thrive better in an office environment with their senior on the ground regularly to answer day to day queries. They haven’t yet got the experience to generate, review and manage their own workload and require more guidance.

It also shouldn’t be overlooked that part of the motivation to work for some people is the social aspect. They want to be surrounded by colleagues, they come to the office for social interaction, so appealing though it sounds, flexible and remote work might have a demotivating effect on some people.

Technology

Technology has undoubtedly been the catalyst that’s made flexible and remote working more commonplace.

Encouraging staff to operate using the same technology, providing training if they don’t know how to use it and investing properly in making communication and project management as straightforward as possible makes achieving a collaborative global workforce much easier.

Training and Development

There’s been a lot of evidence documented recently that says remote employees would be happier if they received more training and development from their employer. This won’t be your responsibility in all cases. If you’re using a freelancer as a one off on a project, you aren’t really obliged to train or develop them, but if you have a remote or flexible employee on a contractual basis you should be offering some sort of support with training. Retaining great talent will be more likely and your workforce will be happier.

With the variety and availability of online training, or 1:1 coaching via video, it’s relatively straightforward to set up a training programme to suit your employee’s needs.

All in all we’ve found flexible and remote working has made our workforce happier and more loyal. It also means we don’t lose great talent to personal circumstances. As an example, the spouse of one of our SEO team in the US recently got a job in another state. Because we were happy to accommodate this role remotely, we didn’t lose him which would have had a profound impact on client delivery and satisfaction.

It’s not cut and dry, some roles and circumstances require on the ground presence, but having that level of flexibility across your workforce we’ve found has been hugely impactful on both the cultural and bottom line success of our business.

Talent Management

Intrinsically linked to Training and Development along with On-boarding Talent management is defined as the methodically organized, strategic process of getting the right talent onboard and helping them grow to their optimal capabilities keeping organizational objectives in mind.

The process thus involves identifying talent gaps and vacant positions, sourcing for and onboarding the suitable candidates, growing them within the system and developing needed skills, training for expertise with a future-focus and effectively engaging, retaining and motivating them to achieve long-term business goals. The definition brings to light the overarching nature of talent management – how it permeates all aspects pertaining to the human resources at work while ensuring that the organization attains its objectives. It is thus the process of getting the right people onboard and enabling them to enable the business at large.

Under the umbrella of talent management, there are a string of elements and sub-processes that need to work in unison to ensure the success of the organization. For example, analyzing the right talent gaps for the present and the future, identifying the right talent pools and best-fit candidates, getting them to join and then optimizing their existing skills and strengths while helping them grow are touch-points that are all equally important. They support each other and the whole structure would crumble even if one sub-process fell out of sync.

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