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Real business story

Remote working attracts better talent – and diversity of thought

Remote working came to the fore during the coronavirus crisis but many smart employers were already relying on remote working to find the best talent.

Distributed workforces reduce costs, increase the pool of candidates and create a higher level of job satisfaction, but education and communication are key.

Tap into overseas talent

Adzuna had to build remote teams to get the talent it needed. When the business launched in 2011, the founders struggled to find developers. The skill was in short supply and the team were competing against big tech and banks.

A personal connection to a developer based in Greece gave them access to the talent they needed to start growing – and revolutionised the way the company was built.

“There’s the obvious benefit – you have lower infrastructure costs – but that wasn’t a key driver. If you’re prepared to consider remote employees, it widens the pool of talent. We couldn’t have hired the people we have if we didn’t have remote teams,” said Kathryn Roberts, Adzuna’s head of people.

Today, Adzuna has around 85 staff. About 25 per cent work remotely from Greece, the US, Australia and the UK.

Increase the diversity of thinking

Kathryn believes remote teams have increased the quality of decision making.

“When you’re engaging in business, having different opinions from different markets and cultures adds value to the conversation. That might be in a meeting or with the development of a product. It makes for a richer experience and better outcome,” she said.

McKinsey’s research backs this up. It shows a correlation between diversity (defined as a greater proportion of women and ethnically or culturally diverse individuals) in leadership and “financial outperformance” – for example, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to outperform on profitability.

Alongside improvements in the quality of execution, there are practical benefits to marketing and customer service:

  • Marketing: Understanding cultural nuances boosts campaigns and avoids missteps
  • Customer service: It makes it easier to manage the hours and languages needed to operate in 16 different countries

Remote working requires education

Kathryn’s team created guidelines for remote working and training courses to help people learn the best ways to work.

They recently launched a series of short videos sharing operational excellence on subjects like collaboration and communication. Getting team members to act out how not to do it made the content accessible and fun, while getting a point across.

At the other end of the spectrum, they are producing two-hour training courses for managers on building hybrid teams.

Adzuna has spent a decade perfecting its approach to remote work but it continues to monitor engagement. The HR team sends a bi-monthly, anonymous engagement survey that includes questions around remote working.

Effective communication is critical

Remote working makes communication doubly important. Adzuna takes a deliberate approach to company-wide tools and processes, and gives regional teams flexibility to use their preferred approach.

“There are the obvious things like email but we use Skype chats as an effective tool for quick, less formal communication, both from a social and formal point of view.

“We put in place some very deliberate formal touch points that are operational, including weekly strategy meetings and monthly all-hands,” said Kathryn.

Going from 25 per cent remote staff to 100 per cent during the coronavirus lockdowns galvanised the team around its “hybrid distributed” model. It meant putting more focus on wellbeing too – and Kathryn said you can’t overcommunicate.

Trust is crucial during this period. Kathryn starts from an assumption that staff are probably working harder when they’re remote. You also need to make up for the casual conversations you’re missing out on, so regular check-ins are critical.

“When people work remotely, you’re not able to do that micromanaging. Give them the flexibility to have the schedule that makes them the most productive,” Kathryn added.

  • website: www.adzuna.co.uk
  • location: London
  • business size: 50-99 People
  • business type: Digital, technology & computer services

Top three takeaways

Remote working allows you to hire workers in different parts of the UK and world; these team members will enrich your decision-making process

Make sure your managers have the tools and education to manage remote teams effectively

Find the tools that are going to help your team collaborate and socialise