Officeless and remote working – the logistics

This discussion has now taken place but the discussion is available to read below.

Now that technology is making it easier and easier for our workplaces to become more agile and efficient in our working style; we want to take a closer look at charities that have decided to try remote working and in some cases decided to go completely officeless. What are the savings and how does it work in practice?

On the 16th of January at 1.30-3pm we will have a panel of experienced experts who have been there and done it, to discuss the practicalities of being officeless or working and managing colleagues that are working remotely.

Join us to discuss the following:

  • Why your organisation should consider it?
  • How to make the most of office supplies
  • Communication, communication, communication
  • HR implications – how can we make sure people aren’t working too much or not enough?
  • Making the most out of cloud storage

Panel

Paul Roberts, LGBT consortium

As CEO of an officeless organisation Paul doesn’t profess to have all the answers but is happy to help out anyone else thinking of embarking in the same direction by sharing his experiences.

John Barrett, Small Charities Coalition

SCC exists to help small charities access the skills, experience and resources they may need to start up and achieve their aims. As Director of Operations, John wants to discuss the benefits that remote working and going officeless may have for small charities and share any expertise on the barriers or opportunities.

Terry Shepherd and Joseph Blass, WorkPlaceLive

WorkPlaceLive are one of our Trusted Suppliers that provide secure, flexible and reliable cloud based Hosted Services in the UK ideal for officeless or remote working.

Terry Shepherd has seen many companies transformed after moving to the cloud, Terry will explain why and how cloud computing will transform your onsite IT.

Joseph Blass has been an investor in Cloud since 2011 and in 2013 led the merger between WorkPlaceLive and Cirrus Stratus.

Jonathan Levy, Class Telecommunications

Class Telecommunications are another one of our Trusted Suppliers provide managed voice and data services to organisation across the UK. As a well-established and trusted communications specialist, we are championing the move to Cloud based solutions for commercial and voluntary organisations.

Questions and answers

Post your questions below for Paul, Terry, Joseph and Jonathon in the comments section or join us at 13.30 on Friday 16 January for a live chat with them.

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115 Responses to Officeless and remote working – the logistics

  1. D'Arcy Myers says:

    How do I join the chat on the day?

  2. Joanna says:

    Where is the panel taking place and is any registration necessary?

  3. Marie Faulkner says:

    Hello Joanna and D’Arcy,

    No registration needed. It all happens right here in the comments section. It officially starts on Friday at 1.30 but do feel free to post your questions early.

    Thanks and looking forward to Friday.

  4. We are currently exploring a more agile and flexible workforce. I look forward to hearing how it has worked for others.

  5. Diana Finch says:

    We are at the stage of needing to develop policy to expand on home working. We’re concerned about our duties as an employer in terms of workstation assessment. We’re also wondering about paying for broadband / heating etc, especially as many would have no increase in their bills as a result of homeworking and staff are potentially saving on travel costs. How do you make it fair to both employer and employee?

  6. Stuart Rutter says:

    How do other small businesses and charities manage the logistics of operating in more than one country – especially if the internet is poor in one of those countries?

    • Jonathan Levy says:

      At the end of the day you are dependent on the quality of the countries communication infrastructure – fixed line telephony, broadband and mobile. If they are poor you need to adapt and use the most reliable form. If budget allows you can use a satellite service.

  7. Eugene Dugan says:

    Q: Any issues regarding an employee (primarily involved in research/writing/advocacy and does not meet face-to-face with clients/colleagues) who lives/works outside of England/Wales (when we serve people in England/Wales)? What if the worker lives in Scotland or N.Ireland? Elsewhere in EU? In a non-EU country? Are there potential problems with HMRC? Worker’s rights?

  8. Kay Bastin says:

    I will be joining you

  9. We are interested in monitoring the hours and productivity which at the moment is proving time consuming, any ideas. Providing charity computers, expenses, broadband. Monitoring confidential information when away from Charity property

    Thanks Fiona

    • John Barrett says:

      I understand there is software that can monitor when staff are logged in etc but this has the potential to be abused i.e. someone setting their alarm at 8.59, logging in, then rolling over back to sleep. I’m not suggesting any of us employee such unscrupulous individuals, but it’s a real possibility. Any suggestions?

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Hi Fiona
      We have a template Office Log which we use to capture not only staff worked hours, but overall staff activity. We keep it as simple as possible but the notes on each day’s work help me to monitor and use information for line management purposes.
      It also automatically calculates, holiday, sickness, etc. so make life much easier. This did help identify a member of staff who was considerably less productive and gave me the information to implement an action plan with them to improve.
      In terms of confidential information, the only person who keeps printed confidential information is myself as Chief Officer and this remains in a locked filing cabinet. Any confidential information in our filing is password protected and only accessible by senior management.

    • Carole says:

      We also have a team of home based workers, and we are like Fiona, interested in how you monitor working hours, toil and productivity?

      Look forward to your response.

  10. Kevin Lowe says:

    Sorry – probably being dim, but I cannot see how to take part in the live chat. Do I just sign in an watch the posts? Thanks Kevin

  11. Lisa Coupal says:

    Looking forward to hearing about others’ experiences in working remotely – especially interested in methods of cloud storage used (currently using Dropbox)- any other recommendations? Does anyone work with a completely paperless system?

  12. Jo-Anne Welsh says:

    is this an all male panel ? Shame you did nt think to have any kind of gender balance. I m stereotyping based on names of course

  13. Kate Varley says:

    Dear all

    I’m the Director of an international youth charity called Tenteleni. We work with volunteers in the UK, South Africa, Kenya and Zanzibar. Our charity is volunteer-run without an office and we’ve operated this way for 15 years. As we have no paid staff, our management committee, based in the UK, is made up of 40 volunteers who manage these roles alongside full time jobs or study. I’d be happy to answer any questions, share ideas and hear from others. I’m in training today but I’ll try to respond or you can contact me on director@tenteleni.org.uk.

    Regards

    Kate

  14. Gwen Griffith-Dicksn says:

    I see communication as being a major issue though we have a culture of doing this well. Do you have any advice, practice, guidelines or indeed ‘rules’ you can recommend for making good internal communication automatic for everyone?
    Any experience of how to do meetings – the range of options and advice on what works best (skype/google hangout tips, vs. meeting in a cafe or for lunch…)

    Probably this is too individual and varying, but what about storing all the ‘stuff’? Any financial or legal or regulatory issues about keeping past years’ records, how, where? How much can we really go for a total organisation ‘declutter’??
    Thanks!

  15. Joanna says:

    I would like to find out how to manage and improve communication when many people are working remotely and part-time, e.g. ensuring they receive information on time, know what’s happening in the office and projects are not delayed? Many thanks

    • Jonathan Levy says:

      With remote workers their ability to “communicate” will be a functions of what device they have(smartphone, tablet, laptop etc, what applications these devices can run and what communication services are available (WiFi, 3G or 4G, fixed line broadband).

      For example with most smartphones with a standard data bundle could easily be used for a whole range of communication tools, emails, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Yammer.

      The key to success will be to standardise on devices and applications and have an organisation wide agreement on they are to be used.

    • John Barrett says:

      I think it’s important to ensure you put time aside to communication with individuals. Schedule in advance and diarise fixed meetings, catch-ups, supervisions. There’s probably also an argument for more regular work schedule or plans that are regularly reviewed. Not to ‘check up’ so much, but to monitor progress and performance more regularly than just monthly supervision meetings.

      • Joanna says:

        Great! I am a senior administrator for the organisation and that in practice means really an office manager and link between everybody.
        I have sometimes a feeling that even though I send emails, speak to people personally some information go unnoticed. It seems a case not only in this organisation where I currently work but in others as well. How to make sure people read the email (however weird it sounds), get the information etc.
        Any advice would be appreciated.

        • Jonathan Levy says:

          You may want to consider using a different messaging application for certain types of communication.

  16. Hello and welcome to the live chat!

    My name is Marie and I will be hosting the discussion today. Just a few things before we get started:

    – You will need to refresh your page to be able to see the latest comments
    – If you’d like to reply to a specific question please press the reply button next to the comment rather than the comment box at the bottom. Makes the conversation easier to follow.
    – The comment box will ask for your name and email, you only need to do this once.
    – I’ll be there to move us on to the next discussion topic if we need to, but the discussion will be available afterwards so you will be able to re-read what happened.

    Thank you to everyone who has already posted a question. Let’s get straight on to that after our panellists kindly introduce themselves….

    • Jonathan Levy says:

      I’ve worked in telecoms and datacoms for over thirty years, firstly as an engineer. Laterally I’ve held a variety of commercial, operational and product development roles, predominately with Mercury Communications and Cable Wireless before joining Class Telecom 7 years ago.

  17. Alison Crangle says:

    I will be joining in, or more likely looking at the posts

  18. John Barrett says:

    Hello everybody. Looking forward to the discussion.

  19. Paul Roberts says:

    Thanks Marie
    Paul Roberts here, Chief Officer at LGBT COnsortium, the national umbrella body for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voluntary and community organisations.
    We had an office for many years in London but when I came into post 4 years ago we had to shrink massively in size so I used the opportunity to create an officeless organisation and happy to answer any questions on this.

    • Joanna says:

      Hi Paul,
      How did you facilitate the transformation? It would be great if you can share the steps, lessons learnt, experience etc.

      • Paul Roberts says:

        Thanks for the questions Joanna and Kevin.

        Sadly, I can’t give you a step by step manual for going officeless as it was far more complex than this–although not as complex as some might have thought. Some of the key things we had to consider were:
        * Moving from internal server to cloud based systems and how we migrated all of our information from one to the other
        * Assesment of staff working environment. I undertook an assessment with each member of staff to ensure they had an appropriate space in their home to work in and was an opportunity to identify any equipment we needed to purchase.
        * We had to move everyone over to laptops so we were able to work remotely not just from home locations but also Member offices (one of our goals was to be more in touch with our Membership)
        * Insurance checks. Making sure that our own organisational insurance was setup for home working and everyone’s individual insurance was aware they worked from home
        * Registered address–we have to have a registered address for Companies House so we have used a Member premises for this now so not to disclose personal home locations
        Will add more as we go on but want people to see I am responding!!

        • Kevin Lowe says:

          What’s been the impact on staff/staff communication? Do you have periodic face-to-face meetings?

        • Kevin Lowe says:

          Do any staff have jobs that require a fair bit of photocopying – for example for training where you want to provide delegate packs etc? Any dilemmas about staff roles not suiting their home accommodation?

      • Kevin Lowe says:

        Hi, Paul, yes that’s what I’m interested in.

  20. Hi,

    I am a Cloud Computing specialist at WPL and have seen hundreds of organisations move from onsite server based IT to a fully hosted model where they can work from any device, anywhere and anytime

  21. John Barrett says:

    I’m John Barrett, the Director of Operations at the Small Charities Coalition.

    We’re a membership and support charity that supports all small charities, whether registered or not, that have an income of less than £1m per year. We provide a voice for small charities and give access to free and affordable support like skills, training and resources. We collaborate with lots of people and organisations from all sectors to provide opportunities for shared learning, capacity building and money saving. We’re a small charity ourselves so face and tackle many of the same challenges as our nearly 7,000 strong membership.

  22. John Barrett says:

    We’re due to move from our existing office in the coming months and so have recently reviewed whether we could go office-less. I’ll share some of our conclusions throughout this discussion.

    I’m no expert on the subject so I’m as much here to ask questions and learn as contribute.

    • John,

      Please feel free to go to http://www.workplacelive.com and watch some of the short videos when you have time as we specialise in providing what you require.

      • John Barrett says:

        Thanks Terry. I think I spoke with you or a colleague of yours some years back when we were considering moving our server onto the cloud. In the end, with the help of a university IT student and failed attempts using Copy and Google Drive data back up providers, we now have an on site server (made using an old laptop) and back using Dropbox, all at a fraction of the price. Happy to share these experiences with those on a budget.

        • Our service is top of the pile in terms of pricing but is only really relevant for those running mid office and back office applications like SageLine 50, QuickBooks and say ThankQ or Raiserd Edge and then want all of that hosted and accessed from anywhere. For £28-£32 pppm I think it’s a steal! 🙂

          • John Barrett says:

            Totally agree, and will suit some charities with certain requirements. I think the thing to note here though is that there are other options. Sadly in some cases, like in ours, it’s needs a clever IT person to help you out, which can be found, but might take a bit more time, but an option for charities with no budget onetheless!

  23. Hi, I work for a charity as part of a team but I actually work from home and not one of our offices.

  24. Anne says:

    Not all of our staff have good internet connectivity – I would be interested in any comments about how this can be a limiting factor. Many thanks

    • Hi,

      If a single user working from home then it’s all about stable internet as opposed to fast internet. Our users need between 28k-55k each in order to connect to us which is not a lot.

      • Jonathan Levy says:

        In the UK, BT Openreach provide the underlying network to support ISP’s and their broadband offerings. BT are in the process of upgrading their network so if you currently have a poor broadband service its worth regularly checking to see if the next generation of services are available in your area. 4G and satellite can also be alternative.

        • Anne says:

          Thanks. We used satellite in the office a while ago, but had problems with working across the internet – at the time this was related to work in maintaining our website. Didn’t show up if you were just browsing web pages, as they refreshed, but very frustrating for the person trying to update something if there was a break in the link and all their work was lost. So there would be huge concern about moving to the cloud using a satellite service. Not sure if 4G would be available. We’d been advised that mobile technologies might be ok for occasional work, but not for a permanent office. Any comments?

          • Jonathan Levy says:

            There are different types of satellite service. Relatively recently a new service was introduced in Europe from Eutelsat called Ka-sat, I think. It may be worth investigating this option – assuming this wasn’t your current service.

  25. Kevin Lowe says:

    Paul,
    Please talk us through the steps you took to go officeless.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Hi Kevin
      Have put some information in a post above to Joanna.

      SOme other comments:
      * Printers were a headache for us! Staff were transitioning from using a brand new photocopier (which was on a very expensive contract which i terminated!) and really rebelled against having individual inkjet printers, despite purchasing ones we knew were up to the job of day to day work printing. Couldn’t believe this was such as issue but for me it highlighted that there will always be pressure points in this transition but they can be managed.
      All staff are now happy with their printers 😉
      * Accounts–We use Quickbooks and my admin assistant is some 250 miles from me so having copies of receipts for reconciliation was a bit of a bind for a while. We have now implemented a scanning process of all receipts and invoices so there is an online (and secure) copy as well as the originals staying with me
      * Organisation equipment and storage–what do you do with left over equipment such as projectors, old computers, files, HR docs,etc is a key factor. It all now lives in my garage but some external storage may be necessary for some organisations who don’t have people with spare space personally. This is also specifically insured to be on my premises

      • Paul Roberts says:

        Phone was the other consideration!! A major one at that.
        We now use Vodafone’s OneNet Express so every member of staff has a mobile phone which also acts as a landline–so everyone can dial out of their mobile as a landline number (we retained our London numbers despite being in Somerset, Devon, London and Manchester).

        • Paul Roberts says:

          And staff communication. It was important to implement regular online staff meeting (we use GoToMeeting and Skype) so we still felt like a team.
          We make sure we do this at least twice a week where possible.

        • Jonathan Levy says:

          If homeworkers do not need to leave their home office to carryout their responsibilities then an alternative to a mobile would be use a softphone. A softphone basically enables you to use the home base computer as a phone using a headset. In this way you have much more flexibility on call routing, have access to Outlook contacts and can even see who else in your organisation is on-the phone, in a meeting or on leave. To use an industry term this is called Unified Communication and other features such as voice/videoconferencing would be available.

  26. Diana Finch says:

    Is this happening? Paul, Terry, Jonathan – are you out there?

  27. Diana Finch says:

    What are the legal duties on an employer when setting up homeworking policies? Are these different for occasional home-workers (especially if it is at the worker’s request) vs regular official home-workers?

  28. Thanks panel. Now to the discussion…Do feel free to go through the questions already asked but hopefully a lot will be covered through the discussion points.

    Let’s kick off with why you should even consider it, and for those who already have, what would you say are the initial benefits that made you change your policy/way of working.

  29. Diana Finch says:

    Also we’re wondering about fairness – to ourselves and to all staff. How do you go about deciding on a fair contribution towards broadband / heating etc, especially when some staff would have no increase in their bills as a result of homeworking and staff are potentially saving on travel costs.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Hi Diana
      We use the guidance from HMRC to guide this. Their guidance (if i remember correctly) says you can pay an employee who works from home up to £4 per week as a contribution to heating/lighting/etc. We pay this on an annual basis, pro rata for part-time workers.
      We assessed workers internet connections to determine what they used personally (speed not content!). This uncovered that everyone purchased unlimited broadband anyway so there was no added burden on the connection so no added costs. We agreed as a team that if someone had a less than stable connection then COnsortium would pay for the upgraded connection for 12 months initially and then assess.

  30. Paul Roberts says:

    Just to say I am going back and responding to questions directly to me–they are back up the page where you asked and will respond to others shortly!

  31. Paul Roberts says:

    In answer to your question Marie–cost effectiveness was the most obvious reason for us. Our income levels reduced by 60% in 18 months and an office was costing nearly £40K per annum in London all in so it instantly saved a good portion of that!
    Also, as a national organisation with Members across the UK, having staff in different locations make it much easier to maintain direct contact with more Member organisations. This has been a huge plus for us and we are so much better known by our Members now.

  32. Alison Crangle says:

    I have read that employers should inspect the home working environment. Is that right, or do we trust staff to set up their office at home? Surely we still have a duty around work stations.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      We took some guidance received that we should check the home working environment. Given that i had four workers all miles apart from me, we did this via Skype and staff took me through their home set up. We then agreed what improvements( if any) were needed to make it suitable.
      We did have one member of staff who consistently worked from bed and once identified we put in place a plan to make their work station more workable for them (involved purchasing a small desk to fit an alcove!).
      As part of line management it is a regular point of discussion to make sure it still works for them and is practical and professional.

      • Alison Crangle says:

        Thanks Paul

      • Jonathan Levy says:

        I believe as an employer you do have a duty of care and so need to ensure the environment at home is suitable. This would normally involve a manager visiting the home to do an audit/risk assessment. An HR expert should be able to advise here.

  33. Thanks Paul. I love that you mention the benefit it can have on your members. Allowing possibly even more face to face communication.

    You mentioned in your case study that one of the things you learnt was how to make the most of your office supplies. Has anyone had a similar experience or could you share some recommendations for what can be done?

  34. Anne says:

    What about routine things like post? Paul, you’ve said you used a Member premises for your registered office address. Do you use this as a postal address too? Or do you use PO boxes? We are trying to move as much communication/correspondence to email as possible, but there are still some things that come in by post which we would have to deal with.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Hi Anne

      We use a postal box for our main post, which is then automatically rerouted to my home address. We tend not to get much post so it works well for us.
      Occassionaly something might turn up at the Member’s office as our registered address but we have a member of staff 5 minutes from them who can pick up.

  35. Lucy Elkin says:

    Hello there – just joined you so sorry if you’ve covered this. Have any of the panel used ‘coworking’ spaces? (ie where you rent office/meeting rooms/hot desks in a shared venue)? I wondered if you thought this would be a viable option for smaller / startup organisations? Thank you.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Hi Lucy
      This sort of answers the question–this forms part of our overall approach to being an officeless organisation. It is our policy that where we need to use office space (e.g. for event preparation, meetings, events)we must assess whether a Member organisation can provide us with this in the first instance. That way we are always looking for ways to reinvest in our own Membership.
      Also, in our home locations we make sure we are aware of any shared spaces we can work from if we need some contact time so we don’t go stir crazy. For example, in Exeter there is something called The Hub and you can rent desk space for an hour or day or whatever. This can be nice to just be around people sometimes.
      We also try to make staff aware of any home-workers groups that exist locally. For example, in Taunton we have a Jelly group (on Facebook) which physically meets in a coffee shop locally once a month and is for home-workers to have that sense of company for at least one day a month. This draws in a whole range of different types of home worker too which is great. Some talk through the days–other just get on as usual but like the company that is around them.

      • Lucy Elkin says:

        That’s great, thank you. Obviously cost-saving is a big benefit of going ‘officeless’. I wondered if your organisation is also interested in tracking things like improved retention and reduced stress (for employees) and also reduced carbon emissions (less commuting!) I’m interested in how we can show that ‘going remote’ can be good for the triple bottom line of an organisation…ie benefiting it’s people and reducing carbon footprint, as well as saving costs.

        • Paul Roberts says:

          Absolutely! We have an environmental policy, which being officeless forms a part of. It has saved on fuel costs but we have been unable to monitor its real effect due to competing pressures. Personally, I think it is important though.
          Oddly, I found that with two members of staff, at one period of time shortly after going completely officeless that stress levels increased, which rang alarm bells. The transition across to permanant home-working was difficult for some and so we put in place extra measures to ensure they felt support and to reduce their stress (e.g. working from a Member office space, extra line management and support).
          Now we have been doing this for 3 years, we have learned from our experiences and share these and ultimately all staff wouldn’t want to change our set up as it also enables them to be more flexible (within reason!) with their working hours.

          • Lucy Elkin says:

            thank you that’s very interesting. I’m actually hoping to develop a simple ‘carbon tracker’ that would help with this. Early stages but perhaps I can get in touch when it’s up and running!

          • Lucy Elkin says:

            Also – interesting to hear about some employees finding it *more* stressful to work remotely, at least at first. More flexibility including going remote is so often described as a ‘fix’ for stress etc, but that’s a really good reminder that’s it’s not as simple as that, and may depend on the person, their setup, their expectations etc. Thanks for that!

          • Diana Finch says:

            What about the additional carbon load of potentially heating lots of homes during the day when they would have been unheated compared with heating one office space?

    • Hi Lucy, I’ve been home based for several years but have recently tried working from a co-working office that is part of our parent group. Like many working in the charity sector my work is highly confidential. I found using a hot desk and the general lack of privacy very difficult and maintaining data protection boundaries was almost impossible.

      • Lucy Elkin says:

        that’s a really good point. I wonder if there is a technical solution to this…? Or if it’s something that coworking spaces can address eg through screened areas or similar?

  36. Lucy Elkin says:

    A second question, if that’s OK. Do you recruit differently when hiring someone to work remotely? – are there skills or aptitudes that you think are vital in a remote team member? Many thanks, again.

    • Hi Lucy,

      You would need to look for a person who has experience of working from home over a sustained period of time because it is a different mind set altogether and not everyone is a productive as they would be in an office. For example, some homeworkers are very,very good at golf or hedge trimming, disciplines they may not have been so good sat when they were office bound. 🙂

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Ello again!
      We make it an intrisic part of our recruitment process now as all our roles are home-based. We ask questions about how you will set up an appropriate working environment, how you will communicate with the team, etc. When appointed, we also share each other’s experiences as it can be lonely sometime and most of us have been through at least one period of hating working from home all the time.

      • Lucy Elkin says:

        does your organisation do any specific training on how to make remote working and remote teams ‘work’ if you see what I mean? I’ve been in a few remote teams, and we sort of muddled through. tho I see that courses are now popping up looking at this issue…

        • Paul Roberts says:

          I think we muddled through for the first year or so too as we had so many competing priorities with loss of funding, etc.
          Now, we make it a proper part of staff induction and line management and appraisal. At physcial team meetings (which we try to have every two months at least), we share experiences and how our own environments work best. This really helps tweak our own settings to make it better.

  37. John Barrett says:

    When we reviewed our office needs recently, we concluded that we couldn’t go completely office-less because of our reliance on the support of our office volunteers, many of which are attracted by the office experience they gain working with us. How can charities get around this? Can charities apply the same rules to volunteers as they do to staff?

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Really, really good point John. One of the negatives for our going officeless was the loss of several fantastic volunteers who really wanted that office environment to work from.
      We still struggle to get volunteers now so love to hear from others on how they manage this in an officeless environment.

  38. Hi again, I think if an organisation recruits the right person working from home can work well for both employer and employee. I’ve always been aware that it’s harder for my line manger to keep track of me than it is for those in the office so I make a point of keeping my outlook diary up to date and I phone or email with updates etc.

    • Lucy Elkin says:

      thank you – that’s really useful. I agree that the onus is somewhat on the ‘remote worker’ to be really proactive about keeping in touch and being ‘present’

  39. Lucy Elkin says:

    Has anyone found going office-less causes any difficulties with funders? Or are funders just very happy to see running costs cut…?

    • Paul Roberts says:

      One of our specific projects was to do work in London and when our registered address changed to Somerset they raised concerns as they felt we wouldn’t be able to deliver effectively. We did manage to show them we had processes in place to ensure nothing had changed in terms of that London delivery but was something we hadn’t anticipated–although maybe we should have in hindsight!
      The majority of our funders have been impressed at the costs savings and added value for money it has offered.

      • Lucy Elkin says:

        as so many funds/grants are region specific, I guess it might also cause problems at the application stage too – tho presumably fixable by reassuring them in the way you described.

        • Paul Roberts says:

          Absolutely. We get around this by ensuring we have either pre-submission contact or mention in applications that we work with XX local member organisation and can use their premises. We actually try to ensure where we apply for any region specific funding that this is only done in partnership with a local Member, so this sort of solves this one usually anyway.

    • Kevin Lowe says:

      I might has missed comments on this – but does anyone have experience of being mostly officeless – say having a couple of desks within another organisation, maybe for a CEO & colleague?

  40. Lucy Elkin says:

    I have to leave the discussion at this point, but I just wanted to say thank you to you all for sharing your experiences. Best wishes, Lucy

  41. Kevin Lowe says:

    Has becoming officeless meant that all staff have to be more tech savvy? Do you have a lead IT ‘officeless manager’ person?

    • Paul Roberts says:

      Kevin, I would say ultimately yes! The only way we can work effectively and maintain a consistent product for our Members is by being more tech-savvy. We all have to share a multitude of files and tip-top use of our cloud systems are vital to this. As Chief Officer, I am responsible for all internal IT issues but we also have access to an external IT team for complex queries and support.

  42. As we only have 10 minutes left. Do we have any final thoughts? Anything been missed? If you have any useful links or resources this might be a good time to share them.

    As I said this page will remain live so you can still comment or read the discussion after 3.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      I would say that going completely officeless does take time and even after 3 years we are still learning! We have begun to notice some drifting in terms of the way we construct our filing systems locally and through the cloud so are making this a priority for us in this first quarter of 2015. Learning never stops but going officeless for us literally saved us! Had we not, I don’t believe we would be as strong as we are now. Originally, it was a forced decision due to funding but in the long-term it has improved efficiency, stress-levels, flexible working conditions and most importantly our relationships with Members are the best they have ever been.
      Win win for us!

  43. Kevin Lowe says:

    Signing off now! Thanks a lot for input everyone. Very helpful!

  44. Lisa Coupal says:

    Apologies if I’ve missed this but does anyone use a completely paperless system? Many thanks.

    • Paul Roberts says:

      It was always our intention to do just that Lisa but we have found it impossible. Accounts receipts and invoices still need to be printed off for the accountant, contract documents, papers for meetings, etc. We try as much as possible to keep papers for meetings on mobile devices but found sometimes you need the printed materials with notes on.
      Love to hear any new ideas for becoming more paperless but not sure we will ever achieve completely paperless (especially not looking at my desk right now!!).

  45. Carole says:

    What guidelines do you provide home workers on the length of their working day and wellbeing working at home? Do you find that employees work extra to take toil when they require it, and this is difficult to manage? Thanks

    • Joanna says:

      I would love to see an answer for that as well. Thanks!

    • Paul Roberts says:

      We stipulate core hours so staff are available during the bulk of the day. I am an early riser and prefer to start early but others prefer to start around 10 and work later. We offer flexibility providing core hours are adhered to.
      We limit the amount of TOIL so we don’t get into a situation of long days being worked to get extra days off–although there are exceptions to those rules on occassions where good reason is given or needed. As part of line-management I keep a strict eye to ensure people don’t work more than their paid hours as we started to notice we all over-worked rather than under-worked after going officeless. Separation of working environment (ie where desk is) and personal environment was an important factor in getting this balance right.

  46. Anne says:

    Signing off, but just wanted to say thank you for a useful discussion – will come back to this space later on as I’m sure I’ll have missed something!

  47. Diana Finch says:

    Thanks everyone – very useful ideas and solutions and lots of food for thought!

  48. Joanna says:

    Thank you for the input to discussion. It’s great that chat about going officeless and remote work is actually taking place in the Internet. However it would be great to exchange experience in person and talk about some issues more in details. An idea for a networking meeting? Thank you all.