Finding remote working solutions for SMEs

How SMEs can improve and adapt their remote working: Lessons from a software company, by Synthesis Executive Assistant, Sharon Andrews

While there are many ways SMEs could improve and adapt their remote working policies, this will largely be dependent on the organisation itself. However, some tips and tricks for remote working are universal. Working at a software company, Synthesis Software Technologies, means agility is the standard and we put this agility to use when Covid-19 emerged. Below are a few ways we made remote work workable.

As a company, Synthesis set up a Covid Task Force and were able to plan a few weeks prior to the entire country going into shutdown last year March. This ensured that all our employees were set up with the right tools and infrastructure, enabling them to work affectively from home. 

By putting the company into early lockdown, we were afforded the opportunity to work out any issues that employees experienced i.e., data, power outages etc.  This meant that when hard lockdown was enforced, we experienced little to no glitches and our employees were able to transition smoothly.

The Covid Task Force met on a regular basis and were tasked with checking in on team members and making sure they were engaged and happy.

We set in place a system we created, (and are now selling to the public) called Pulse. This allowed us to survey employees daily, gain immediate feedback and track trends to determine their state of mind and tackle remote working challenges. We found that the most common problem was burnout and an inability to shut off. We had the Covid Task Force call employees when we could see they were not doing well. Employees knew they were not alone and their struggles were acknowledged.

Our Marketing team rallied together and we created a series of challenges which we branded Care+ona. We did bake-offs, indoor forts and obstacles courses to name a few. They were well received and kept everyone engaged and communicating. We also hosted online quiz nights which the whole family could participate in.

Another initiative we started was “The Human Library”.  With water cooler chats no longer taking place we put together a number of “human books” which employees volunteered themselves for and colleagues were able to book an hour once a week with these “books” to just have a conversation and get to know a bit about the individual. 

We also started a series of online Master Classes which were scheduled for every Thursday morning and topics varied from communication, cooking, bird watching, storytelling etc. 

Monthly Friday Morning Coffee meetings were set up where we would have anywhere between 100 to 150 people on the call and with these meetings we were able to communicate openly with employees and get the right information to them timeously.

As challenging as the lockdown of last year was, we experienced a lot of positives as well as negatives.  Negatives were pretty much what the entire country was experiencing. We had a lot of people feeling very isolated and alone. We had parents who all of a sudden were having to work full workdays and still be a teacher to their kids as well.  Positives were that we were able to come together as a team and under very stressful and difficult circumstances succeed and grow where many others were not as fortunate. 

To keep employees connected, effective and content, SMEs will need to create remote working policies that allow for agility and the changes that a pandemic can bring. They will need to throw away the old rule book when planning for employee satisfaction and find new ways to keep employees from burning out, languishing and feeling isolated so they can thrive.