The sudden and unexpected move to remote working is likely to have created several challenges for many firms, but those that already had the right technology and mindset in place beforehand are likely to have coped better with the shift.

One of these firms, mental health charity Mind, took part in Arrow’s recent webinar to explain how the move went and what changes in culture and ways of working were needed to make it a success.

The organisation’s head of technology Adam Monks was on hand to give us a run-through of what steps Mind took to support its 500 staff – and how they’re looking to make sure these cultural changes stick once workers start returning to the office.

You can see his presentation in full below, or follow the links to see the rest of the webinar.

Part 3: Adam Monks, Head of Technology at Mind

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Part 1: Joel Bramwell, Customer Director at Arrow Business Communications

Part 2: James Field, Strategy Director at Smartdesc

Part 4: Ben Neo, Head of UK Charity Sector at Mitel 

How Mind made the move to home working

Adam explained that Mind was in a good position to make the shift to a more agile workplace, having upgraded its connectivity systems with Arrow’s help the previous year to introduce Mitel cloud telephony solutions, which gave the charity a good platform to build on.

This meant the firm’s employees were able to easily keep in touch, but this needed to be supported by other technology tools. Therefore, Mind also introduced solutions such as Microsoft Teams, Remote Desktop and Office 365 to ensure everyone has access to the tools they need.

This was backed up with a user education programme to ensure the tools were being used in the right way. As well as advising employees on security issues, the charity set up webinars and drop-in sessions to answer any questions workers might have about how to make the most of the new remote working tools. 

Changing the way the business works

Adam noted one benefit of the move is that it’s given Mind a clearer idea of the benefits of agile working. Pre-coronavirus, he explained the organisation had been having an ongoing debate about the merits of this approach and whether the cultural shifts required would be too great – but the reality has proven the benefits.

However, it has required employees to adapt how they work. For instance, not being able to communicate face-to-face means more regular meetings are essential. At Mind, this means introducing daily standups and increasing the frequency of 121s to a fortnightly basis.

As well as ensuring employees have the right tools and technical skills, it’s vital to look after workers’ wellbeing in this new environment, which is something Mind, as a mental health charity, is acutely aware of. Therefore, it has made special efforts to promote social interactions.

Adam said: “One thing that’s working well is having Microsoft Teams channels for things like breakouts, so having a ‘water cooler’ or breakout area for chat and fun, keeping it dedicated to that and not letting work creep in. That’s been very well received.”

Keeping an agile culture for the new normal

Even if firms have made a success of home working, it’s important they look to the future and identify what they need to do to ensure the positive cultural changes brought about by agile working aren’t lost when people start to return to offices.

For instance, on a technical level, moving to a more mixed environment where office and home-based staff are in regular contact may require some improvements to the IT infrastructure. Adam noted it will be important to have robust connectivity such as Wi-Fi to support additional high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing. 

At the same time, it may be the case that every device in the office will need to be equipped with webcams to facilitate easy communication, while meeting rooms may also need to be upgraded to make it easier to host videoconferencing.

If these issues aren’t addressed, any agile culture a company has built up may be quickly lost. Therefore, in addition to improving IT tools, firms need to focus on supporting a good work-life balance.

Adam said: “Colleagues are going to have to be supported very strongly. We’re going to have to remain agile and adapt to the changing environment, and in the long term, hopefully the culture of agility continues and we’re able to harness it.”