Back to the Kitchen Table
The recent coronavirus pandemic has seen many adaptations to the way we work. Hireserve, a company I founded in 1997, it has seen me return to where it all started: running a business from the kitchen table.
Only difference is that now with a team of 20 behind me and a long list of clients to serve, things are not quite the same this time around.
Team Hireserve went from working face to face to working remotely overnight.
We are lucky to have so many committed employees – some of whom have been with us over a decade – and all of whom have been giving 100% during this time.
Managing the business is easy when everyone is pulling in the same direction.
On a more basic level, the pandemic has given me more of a chance to work closely with the development team.
Whereas my normal working life sees me travelling to attend meetings – occasionally oversees but also across the UK – the ban on face to face meetings has given me back so much time.
Collaborating closely with James, the Head of Technology, has also enabled me to take part in the daily update meetings with the dev team.
I’m a developer at heart so this has been heaven!
One of the biggest rewards has been having some time to stop and reflect on what we have built in the last 23 years.
On a personal level, in the earliest years of Hireserve it was my young daughters keeping me company at the kitchen table.
Now we have our first grandchild crawling around our feet.
Working at the kitchen table has been perfect to be able to combine work and family.
We’ve always placed a high importance on working flexibly at Hireserve.
This experience has just reinforced for us how valuable this can be for everyone involved – granting flexibility to staff in the past has paid dividends.
Now that we are working remotely and we require them to adapt to new schedules and new ways of working the shift has been seamless and not one moan or grumble.
A real challenge for me during this time has been the lack of social interaction.
We’ve been utilising different platforms for remote interactions for years, but now it has become our sole source of contact you do notice how much you miss the office chit chat – just being able to wander over to a colleague’s desk to catch up about a project.
Technology is at its best when it enables us to live our lives as fully as possible.
At Hireserve we’ve been using everything at our disposal to keep morale high and bring an element of fun to the working day.
Whether it’s a GoToMeeting quiz, a shared Spotify playlist or a group in Teams to store all our (my) dad jokes, we’ve remained close.
We have even scheduled team coffee breaks to down tools, get together and chat about everything we’ve been up to.
I don’t want to us lose this sense of fun when things to back to normal!
From all I have learnt in recent months, if I were to give advice to someone else running an SME facing similar circumstances, it would be to be transparent about your plans.
Have regular team meetings to communicate with your staff.
Be there for them to come to you with their worries.
It’s an uncertain time for everyone.
Give balanced information about how the business is performing and the current challenges you’re facing but incorporate this with some light-hearted and fun activities.
To someone who might want to set up their own business but now be in two minds about taking the leap I say do it!
If you have the ambition and the idea, then go for it. Risk assess it, have a plan B in place if circumstances change but never let anyone else talk you out of your future potential.
A longer version of this blog was originally published by Hireserve’s Joint Managing Director, Jeremy Ovenden, as a LinkedIn Pulse piece.
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