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The conversation around remote work, office culture, and how to manage teams in distributed workforces has been happening for some time, and there’s still healthy debate as to what the future of work will look like. However, for forward-thinking tech companies, the debate is largely over, as they realise that remote working is, well, working and that most staff are happier and more productive at home.
With this in mind, Payroll and HR software leader PaySpace, has taken the decision to remain fully remote working.
Sandra Crous, PaySpace’s managing director, says this decision is an exciting one, as it enables the company to be at the vanguard of this model, and pave the way for other companies to adopt it too.
“However, while this is an exciting decision, it is not without its challenges. At PaySpace we are lucky to have a culture that has enabled a smooth transition to remote working, due to several factors.”
The first, she says, is colleague satisfaction which is supported by PaySpace’s low staff turnover. “We also have a strong culture of recognition and have created a company culture that celebrates recognition. This has helped us to attract and retain top talent.”
In addition, she says the company has a high-performance culture where colleagues are accountable for their results and given the autonomy to succeed. “We have a culture of performance and working on deliverables rather than hours in the office.”
Crous adds that with the exponential growth the company has undergone, there have been many opportunities for career growth for employees. “We also offer incredible incentives, such as limitless leave, where employees are encouraged to take time off and rest, but also be held accountable to ensure there is a stand-in for them.”
She stresses that while no one must return to the office, those who want to, are welcome to do so. “We are keeping office space for colleagues who need or prefer this option and will always offer support to all colleagues who experience challenges while working remotely.”
PaySpace improves lives through tech
One such challenge, Crous explains, is South Africa’s power situation. “Making sure our employees are empowered to work remotely is extremely important and enabling them to deliver on output is also critical. If you want them to be 100% productive, you cannot expect them to take care of loadshedding for example. We’ve given all our staff a battery backup, so that they can carry on, regardless of loadshedding.”
Another challenge, she says, is maintaining the strong culture PaySpace has built, while remaining remote and growing the business. Our company culture is not just about how we do things but also about why we do things the way we do. Our mission is to improve lives through technology, which is true for our customers, partners, and colleagues.”
While PaySpace has the technology to be able to work remotely and has found remote work to be a great success, she says the next step in benchmarking remote working will ensure the company maintains its healthy, high-performing company culture.
“There is often a disconnect between exco members and feet on the ground, where the exco wants people back in the office, even though most prefer working remotely. This is why we still encourage face-to-face interaction because there is a risk of your culture dying if people don’t see each other,” she explains.
For this reason, she says when new staff members join PaySpace, the company does a face-to-face induction, where they meet the managers at the relevant office. In addition, Crous says all meetings, irrespective of size, are ‘cameras on’ – this isn’t negotiable, as it helps staff stay connected, to maintain a close-knit culture.
In addition, every two months, the company holds a “beers and cheers” afternoon, where staff in the different regions get together to socialise and get to know each other. “We also encourage quarterly face-to-face meetings for our big teams, within the various regions. There’s a fair bit of socialising mixed in with the meetings, such as interactive games used to build camaraderie, and maintain the human element.”
The benefits of remote working far outweigh any perceived negatives, says Crous. “For starters, there is no stress of commuting, or time wasted sitting in traffic every day, and employees feel more in control when they’re allowed to work remotely. For us, it’s a win-win.”
But perhaps the most compelling benefit for Crous is the fact that PaySpace is attracting far more talent because of its remote working policy. “The talent market is incredibly tight for many key roles these days, particularly when it comes to technology. The talent that we are looking for is scarce and expensive. Remote working is a huge perk, and helps to attract top talent, as it can be sourced from anywhere, and is not limited by proximity to the office.”
At the same time, she says PaySpace understands that maintaining a healthy company culture is an ongoing process, requiring commitment from all colleagues. “This is why we will continue to trial and research and, importantly, listen to and include feedback from colleagues to cultivate a remote workplace culture that engages, rewards, and inspires.”
In closing, Crous says: “We really care about the individual at PaySpace. It doesn’t matter that large investments were made and offices built. We want to do what is best for colleagues and our business, and people are simply happier and more productive when working from home. Remote working is the new way. It makes zero sense to force people to go back to work. Businesses who adapt to this, are the ones who will survive.”