IOD Guest Blog: Managing Mental Health in Changing Business Models

Novo-K’s Managing Director, Kavita Cooper, recently spoke to the IOD about Remote Working in SME’s:

What kind of remote working arrangements are in place in your organisation?

We think it’s fundamentally important to create a working environment in which people can be their most effective whilst enjoying their time in the office and we therefore seek to develop the office culture that is right for the team. It’s important to give your people access to the right tools and software that enable them to be their most productive regardless of location, time or working surroundings. We fervently believe that working in a location with your team is still the most productive way to get stuff done – humans are, by their nature, social animals. However, we also know that sometimes having personal space to think without distractions has real value. There’s always a desk in the office for our team with all the accessories to help them: floating PC monitors, wireless mouse and keyboard, storage space and, most importantly, tea & biscuits!

What were the main drivers for your decision to implement remote working practices for your employees?

We’ve always been advocates for creating effective working spaces, but it’s easy to get it wrong, especially if your motivation is to save money. If you take the time to think about how you can encourage your team to engage with the company in a way that builds a culture of open and collaborative working, then the return for the business is equally fulfilling for the employee. My previous personal experience of flexible working and seeing the uplift in output was the main reason to embrace this culture in Novo-K. I know as a mother of two young children just how valuable the flexibility can be and it isn’t just about having children. By making work an integral part of our employees’ lives means they actively enjoy their work and can be more productive.

What have been the main benefits of implementing remote working practices for your employees?

The vast majority of people prefer being in the office so they can work with people face-to-face, so our policy has actively encouraged better collaboration amongst the team. The real benefit comes when people choose to work when they want to because they love what they do – arriving later into the office to avoid rush hour and drop the kids off at school is to be encouraged, especially as that same person is motivated to work later that day when the kids are in bed and can work around their busy lives. We see higher productivity and motivated people willing to go the extra mile when needed the most.

What practices/policies does your organisation have in place to ensure that mental wellbeing of your staff that work remotely is looked after?

We actively engage when people are not in the office to check on their wellbeing, which is the most important for our team and the managers. For example, we use Office 365 so all our work is collaborative and in real-time, using messaging and video conferencing through Microsoft Teams whenever we need to collaborate, so you’re always in touch, even if it is virtual. The single most important activity is the monthly 121s with every member of the team in the office. This is non-negotiable and becomes the one point in the month when we ‘check and balance’ with each other, ensuring that performance and personal development is not neglected. Just because you talk with colleagues every day, it’s easy to be singularly focused on the tasks and projects and forget the mindfulness questions. For Novo-K the monthly 121 is the magic ingredient for happy people regardless of where they work.

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