In the current climate, working from home has become a massive juggling task for parents. Between homeschooling her children and managing a global remote team, we checked in with our resident mum and COO Adrienne Muir to hear her honest tips for working remotely and staying flexible in a home office environment.
Adrienne, firstly, how are you?
I am well, thank- you. It is certainly a crazy time globally right now, but we are home and coping as well as we can with lockdown. I have been home since 9th March as I was not feeling 100%., so it feels like a long time to be honest. I am pleased we are all set up at home for working which seems to be working incredibly well.
What has surprised you the most about working at home?
Well, I have always had the option to work from home, our flexible working policy is great at VoxSmart. I work from home most Fridays to accommodate school pick up at 3.45 but working with everyone at home as been a whole different ball game. I must say I have been so proud and mostly impressed at how the staff have adapted to working at home during the pandemic. We have an office in Madrid and they have been working in very tough conditions.
What have you noticed about managing a business from home?
Without a doubt communication. You really do take for granted those “water cooler” conversations or overhearing someone updating on a recent client conversation, but to be honest, like everyone we have had to adapt. We have regular team meetings, town halls and with our high-profile projects making sure we speak on a regular basis to support everyone on the team, including the client. Also, I am not just working from home alone, I have a 5-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter who are homeschooling, so it’s a juggle.
Homeschooling and working remotely, how does that work?
Well this is where I have to be “flexible” with my working hours, even my work space. I ensure I look to manage my diary carefully. If I can keep the mornings free to be flexible to assist in home schooling, then I am free to attend meetings in the afternoon. My husband is home, but has a more operational role, so it’s often harder for him to drop everything. I have recently started to laugh and call in pandemic parenting to get through, but as always in many cases, perspective helps. The reality is we are not separated from our families or mandated to stay inside like many of our lovely Madrid staff who have kids the same age, so I am grateful and lucky in many ways.
Any Key tips?
I feel I have been learning as I go here. I have tried so many things with the kids, we even had daily stand ups which actually went surprisingly well, every kid likes to move a magnet to done. But most importantly I have just worked hard on ensuring they are not losing a love of learning.
With my son, being on a Google hangouts classroom when you are 5 is not ideal so I have given him food colouring and containers and asked him to make potions. With my daughter, she likes to read and from what I can tell is a visual learner, so again just looking at printouts for maths has not been ideal. We are leveraging websites and online apps as well as just spending time together.
There have been tears, theirs and mine, but I know everyone is going through this and they understand. From a work perspective I am respectful of my meetings, but if they come in during a call, I try hard to introduce them to the VoxSmart family so help them put a name to a face.
How about VoxSmart? How are your clients coping working remotely?
I expect like us all its tough, but in many ways helping them be compliant while working from home is our bread and butter. Our Capture products are purposely designed to allow our clients to continue working from anywhere. We have seen a large uptick in clients calling us and saying, “hey we need more licenses for your WhatsApp desktop Capture product”, or “can you help us deploy more Mobile Voice Recording so we are capturing and recording calls?” Our remote working product is a great option for clients and prospects so for us it is a busy time.
How do you see the next few months playing out?
Well I pray the kids can go back to school soon, but the reality is that in London I am not sure that will be the case. From a work perspective we have new clients reaching out. Law firms are now looking to ensure that mobile phone calls from home are recorded and client communications over IM are captured which is new for us. While we have been primarily Financial services, it makes sense to help other verticals if they need our remote working products. We have one Law-firm loosening up their rules around WhatsApp to improve client communication and by having our technology that really helps them feel safe in the knowledge should they need to review or go back over a conversation they can, also more importantly is helps justify their billings to clients, which I can totally appreciate.