Flexible working for competitive advantage

Woman sitting on her bed doing work as her dog has a nap beside her.

I often encounter the perception that a remote team can’t function as effectively as a team in an office, the assumption being that geographical closeness is a basic requirement for collaboration.  

After six years of Epic Learning however, I can say with confidence that locality doesn’t need to be a barrier to developing a high-performing, close-knit team. Let me tell you our story.

Work-life balance is key

Epic Learning is a fully functional, flexible workplace where the needs of the individual are as important as the needs of the business. We’ve never all been in the same room together (except in the metaverse), and we pride ourselves on providing an inclusive and flexible workplace for our employees. 

Each individual is able to make work fit into their lives rather than having to fit their lives around work. We can work from anywhere at any time, in a way that works best for each of us, coming together when we need to for meetings and support. We all value this highly, so as a result, everyone contributes their best, constantly challenging each other to make it work even better. Our business is structured around this principle from the ground up.

“Each individual is able to make work fit into their lives rather than having to fit their lives around work.”

Neon sign on a wall that reads "work & play"
Photo by Antonio Gabola on Unsplash

We bridge our distance with creative collaboration

With good project management software and online tools, we’ve built systems to enable collaboration, utilising everyone’s strengths and capacity to contribute on a project-to-project basis. We have proven we can deliver a high standard of service more efficiently than office based teams. We are where our customers are and can accommodate their work patterns within our team, making us agile and responsive.

We embrace the strengths of our diverse team

Working with a flexible work model can be a great experience for those who value freedom and flexibility, but it’s more than that. Flexible work arrangements also enable inclusivity. Some of our team live in places that couldn’t offer the employment opportunities that our remote team can. For others, the need to fit work around family commitments or health issues would make it difficult for them to work in a traditional 9 to 5 office environment. 

From my perspective as a business owner, I wouldn’t have been able to build Epic without the talented team we’ve pulled together from every corner of the country – and even occasionally outside of it. Opening the recruitment pool to anywhere with an internet connection is a substantial competitive advantage in a tight labour market. Offering flexibility in working arrangements has resulted in a loyal and hardworking team of talented individuals that bring their best to a job they value.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

We adapt to and explore new ways of working

With this experience, the assumption that remote working is an inferior model for business puzzles me. I’m curious about why people resist seeing the benefits of this new way of working. Perhaps their perceptions have been shaped through experiences of teams designed and structured for an office environment being thrust online quickly and poorly. This arrangement often leaves people to sink or swim without recognising the support needed to help them adapt to a new way of working. At an organisational level, leaders often overlook the structural and cultural differences between the working models and their own need to adapt and learn. 

I realise that remote work isn’t for everyone. For some people, being only connected online wouldn’t work, highlighting the importance of good recruitment and finding the right fit for your team. Self-reliance and the ability to ask for help when needed are critical skills in our environment, as are integrity, trust and the ability to support others. People who can’t manage their time, drive their own work or know when to ask for help will struggle.

However, with suitable systems and tools designed for online collaboration and a dedicated team of people who know how to be themselves online, a flexible working environment can offer significant benefits to businesses.

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