Adopting Remote Working to Facilitate Social Distancing

An address from 7Summits CEO Paul Stillmank

Companies and organizations continue to pull together by separating themselves in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, and it’s no different for us at 7Summits. In this turbulent time where social distancing has become imperative, it, oddly enough, feels like our time to shine, because this is what we do. 

We work socially today, and have been doing so for more than 10 years. In fact, it’s one of our core values. We are continuing this same work velocity beside our clients despite the current dynamic market conditions because we have long-since tested and perfected connecting the people in our company with our customers and partners to achieve results, leveraging the latest technologies to foster a collaborative work environment. 

Since this is what we do, I thought I’d share more about how we work to hopefully inspire your organization to maintain momentum as well, while using this as an opportunity to transform for the better.

Even when the market context is not a global pandemic, the option to work remotely is almost a business imperative. More than 80% of job seekers say they would turn down a job if it didn’t offer flexible working policies such as telecommuting.

Remote Working Best Practices     

We’re headquartered in Milwaukee, but around 70% of our employees are remote workers spread throughout the country. All of our local employees are given the same flexibility to work from home or from the office as often as they choose, and we’ve stressed the importance of taking advantage of these options amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 7Summits has embraced our evolution into a virtual workplace, leveraging the benefits that remote working allows while instituting policies to minimize the potential drawbacks.

There are numerous benefits for both parties when remote working is correctly managed, and 7Summits excels at adhering to the best practices for achieving positive results. It is important for companies to set clear expectations with workers regarding available hours and contact methods, and maintain regular communication between team members. 7Summits has multiple opportunities for these types of interactions to take place.

We have a standing company-wide meeting every Monday morning to share successes and recent updates across the organization. Additionally, each team holds weekly “stand-up” meetings where employees plan out projects’ next steps and voice their opinions in a conversational, collaborative environment. 

We also have an internal, digital community built on Salesforce called The Hive where employees can collaborate on projects, ask questions, post news and access our broader knowledge base and any procedural documents. We’ve helped many of our clients embrace a solution like this as well.

There are also various Slack channels for people to share shout outs, project updates and simply engage on a personal level with coworkers. 7Summits’ investment in reliable technology to facilitate audio and video phone calls also allows for more valuable communication between workers, instead of relying solely on emails. This approach has enabled us to continue our strong work without missing a beat in the face of this disruption.      

Besides communication, many virtual workplaces struggle with creating a workplace culture that fosters collaboration and engagement. When you’re not in the same space as your colleagues and managers, it can be difficult to form relationships and connections with coworkers. 7Summits again leverages best practices to ensure that a strong workplace culture is not lost among a high number of remote employees, even when circumstances force our entire workforce to go virtual. Nearly all of our meetings are run on Zoom, allowing people to have frequent face-to-face interactions with their peers. And recordings of those meetings are easily saved in The Hive for reference by those who may have missed a meeting. This style of engagement also fosters making management and executives easily accessible to prevent people from feeling disconnected from leadership. Weekly 1-on-1s between all employees and their managers also ensure that 7Summits’ people establish relationships with their teams, even if they work exclusively remotely. 

Benefits to Our People

By implementing a flexible remote policy, 7Summits has demonstrated a commitment to allowing our employees to take advantage of the benefits that virtual working affords. For starters, research has shown that remote workers are generally more productive than those who work exclusively in an office. This is due to people generally starting on time and not leaving early, while simultaneously avoiding in-office distractions. They also don’t have to sacrifice sick days or PTO for minor things like colds, and can instead accomplish all of their work from the comfort of home. 

Allowing work-from-home options also allows our people to save time and money and maintain a better work/life balance. Telecommuting lets employees skip lengthy, stressful commutes that can include battling traffic, construction and bad weather. Simply avoiding driving cuts costs associated with gas, maintenance and parking, and gives workers hours back into their days to spend with family or tackling personal chores around the house. More time at home can help boost morale and keep employees happy, reducing stress and leading to better overall health. 

The financial savings are also a major benefit to remote workers. Virtual employees save an average of $7,000 a year compared to their non-virtual counterparts, with those savings coming primarily from commuting costs, food and business clothes. While individual employees may receive other benefits by working from home, the positive effects on morale, time and finances help demonstrate 7Summits’ commitment to enhancing our employees’ experience with flexible virtual policies. 

Benefits to 7Summits

While our top priority remains our people, enabling a connected virtual workforce allows 7Summits to reap benefits as well. The boost in productivity among employees helps our projects get completed quickly and more effectively. Higher morale and less stress around the office due to the flexibility to work from home at any time help further enhance our workplace culture. By offering our people the option to work where they’re most comfortable, we also hope to enhance the employer/employee relationship at 7Summits. When companies’ employees are happier, they are more likely to put in the additional effort to help the organization. 

There are many other tangible benefits that offering a virtual work environment affords companies. As mentioned above, talent recruitment is enhanced by embracing virtual work, expanding candidate reach across generational and geographical boundaries. As future generations get accustomed to remote working, it is important to offer these options to set ourselves up for continued headcount growth well into the future. Additionally, 7Summits is able to hire incredibly talented people across the country instead of having to recruit exclusively near our Midwest headquarters. Finally, companies that offer work-from-home options tend to experience less attrition (up to a 50% decrease, in fact), as all of the benefits associated with remote working cause people to want to stay where they have that luxury. 

While our remote working policy provides ongoing benefits to our company productivity and recruiting processes, it also serves as a major risk mitigator in more disruptive times. Other companies may be scrambling to set up the systems and processes to effectively continue working, whereas at 7Summits we can simply tell employees to resume their normal work schedules at home. Having a remote policy already in place means that meetings are still being held, deals are still being closed and projects are still being launched, regardless of the external factors that may be affecting other organizations. Our operational readiness ensures that we can continue doing the work that transforms businesses and enhances people’s lives. That’s our Mission.

Offering a flexible remote working policy has many positives for both employers and employees, and has become an increasingly important perk as company’s prepare for the future. 7Summits places a premium on fostering an engaged and accommodating work environment where people have the tools to succeed. By adhering to best practices and making a concerted effort to minimize potential drawbacks, we ensure our remote workforce and our clients get the full set of benefits that this flexibility affords.

Learn more about our focus on Working Socially and other values.

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