Ep #89: Officially Office-Free with Samantha Deeks
Be A Brilliant Remote Worker

 
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How do you build a team of self-starters for your startup? How do you consciously cultivate loyalty and build trust without an office? How does enabling your team to live where they want to live help you grow your business?

Today we talk to Samantha Deeks, the founder of PRgloo, a software that enables PR teams within large organisations to easily manage their PR campaigns & strategies. Their clients include Asda, Tesco, Nationwide, Siemens, & the Scottish and Welsh governments. So, no small fry.

But this mighty software is powered by a team of 17 people distributed all over the UK & Copenhagen enjoying the ability to live where they want to live and not where they have to work, a concept that Samantha has built her remote company culture around.

Well, that’s half of it. Samantha’s leadership style is guided by her emotional intelligence, which is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Her mantra is ‘we’re in this together’ and she shares how showing her vulnerabilities and encouraging her team is a non-negotiable. A strategy which has been worth it’s weight in gold during the pandemic. I hope you enjoy it.

Key highlights from this episode include:

Building a remote team can make financial sense as a startup, but it also means you can attract the best people and give them a work-life balance, which means loyalty, too.

“After the initial kind of frantic startup stage, and then when we became more of an established business, it became sort of really apparent that this kind of purely remote working working from home environment was quite an was actually quite unique. So I ended up having access to a pool of fantastic people that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. So, you know, people started sort of saying, a, they just couldn’t get this flexibility with, with London organizations, London based companies. So one, we had access to a great pool of people to we had fantastic loyalty, because we were able to give people proper work life balance, so you can take your kids to school, and you can pick them up. If you’ve got elderly parents, you’ve got time to spend with them. We also provided people flexibility to say if they didn’t want to do the full working week, they could work for days.”

People who are attracted to remote work and thrive working remotely tend to be self starters.

“… we tend to find the people that thrive in a work from home environment are people who are kind of self starters anyway, they’re the sort of people that sort of see themselves kind of as their own boss as their own sort of CEO.”

Not everyone is suited to remote work, but it becomes apparent quickly & can be dealt with amicably. It’s a learning curve for the company as well as the individual to hire for/ thrive in this kind of role.

“… there were people that joined that found they couldn’t get on with the remote working, and they couldn’t get on, they needed, potentially, for more of a traditional work, you know, office environment… it’s been a learning process for us as people hiring specifically for this kind of role as well.”

Showing your vulnerabilities as a leader & encouraging others to do the same helps create a culture of ‘fail fast, learn faster’.

“… if you create a culture where people are happy to share the fact that they’ve messed something up, and you support them, and you say, “Well, you know, we’ve, you know, I’ve done worse than that,” or, “We’ve learned from this, and now we can move on.” And I think it’s also the case that you need to be able to show that you’re vulnerable and and have a culture whereby people can ask for time, they can ask for support, they can just, you know, chat and maybe end up having a laugh about it or whatever.”

Communication can be a challenge for remote teams because you can become ‘siloed’. Meeting face to face regularly helps because it helps to build trust.

“When you work remotely, you can get quite siloed. And that that’s I think one of the biggest challenges. There isn’t though there aren’t those sort of chance meetings over making a cup of tea in the kitchen where you find out little bits and pieces. And even though we’re a small team, we did we have found that we’ve had to properly stick to things processes, so that those kind of like miscommunications and silos don’t build up and up… sometimes when you’re communicating digitally, people don’t get your tone. And, and your tone can come across as really abrasive, when actually you meant it to be funny. So I say that has been a really key challenge for us… [you do] have to include some kind of face to face at some point during the years to build up that kind of sense of trust. “

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