Health and Wellbeing · 5 December 2017

How do you keep morale up for remote workers?

It is important to check in on your remote workers
It is important to check in on your remote workers
The Spray Nozzle People is an industrial spray nozzle distributor that has been running since 2001. It operates in countries around the world, and employs 15 people.

So far, so traditional.

The thing that sets this business apart is this – each of those employees works from home, and the business has never had any physical premises.

It’s not unusual for businesses to start life at a founder’s home, but often as they grow an office gets factored in somewhere along the line. Yet for Ivan Zytynski managing director at the Spray Nozzle People, homeworking is a deliberate choice.

“The entire concept of the business has always been that everybody works from home. My dad started running it out of one of his outbuildings at his house, and as we’ve brought people on board they have all worked from home. There are so many benefits,” he said.

So, what are the benefits of having an entire workforce working remotely, and how does it affect their morale?

The people

As we have already explored in this series, people like flexible working – and it can be a great recruitment tool to draw people in. Often, people rely on flexible and remote working to be able to enjoy a work-life balance, and fulfil other responsibilities they have, such as looking after elderly relatives or children.

“If you’re saving two or three hours a day commuting, you’ve got that extra time for your family and work hasn’t lost anything,” Zytynski explained.

Indeed, Zytynski has found that homeworking can be a great aid to recruitment and retention.

“It’s a very specialist business, there are not many people that are highly knowledgeable on spray nozzles, believe it or not! The people that we wanted to get into the businesses weren’t necessarily close to where my father was, in Sussex – so immediately you’ve got an advantage there with homeworking,” he explained.

“If you’ve got people you trust, it doesn’t actually matter where they are and you immediately expand your sphere of recruitment.”

As long as an employee has access to the internet, they can access everything they need from the Spray Nozzle People’s virtual data centre, hosted by Claranet.

This means that not only can the business hire the best talent regardless of where they are based, they’re more likely to stay on for the long term.

“If people get used to working from home, they don’t ever want to go back!” revealed Zytynski.

Monitoring morale

Of course, there are downsides to the homeworking model too. For example, the social side of the business requires extra attention.

“We have to make efforts to socialise together and get that cohesion that naturally exists in an office environment. We make sure we address that,” said Zytynski.

“You miss out on the water cooler conversations… I’ll phone my key colleagues on a Monday morning and we’ll just chat about what we’ve done at the weekend. You’ve got to make an effort to do those kinds of things.”

In addition, Zytynski chats to most people in the business at least once a day, and there are quite a few couples working for the business which helps to mitigate the risk of loneliness for the employees.

“What you miss out on with our model is the kind of day-to-day visual clues that someone isn’t happy, so you’ve got to put some thought into getting the information you need,” he explained.

Overall however, he recommends homeworking.

“It just makes so much sense. I really don’t know why people insist on going to an office as the norm – it’s obvious why it evolved that way, because there was no other way of doing it,” Zytynski opined.

“But now with modern technology, it’s almost a tradition with businesses…I don’t think that will be the norm in ten, 20 years.”

For more information to help support the health and wellbeing of your employees please visit: axappphealthcare.co.uk/smallbusinessinsight

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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