Remote working was once something that employees would have to fight for during contract negotiations, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed that.
Almost overnight, igaming organisations were forced to send staff home to work indefinitely and a year and a half later it has now become the new norm.
But as restrictions are eased and governments around the world begin, or in some cases continue, to encourage employees to return to the office, will remote working stay?
If it does, what does this mean for organisations in an industry where onboarding the best talent in the business is often the difference between success and failure.
The CasinoBeats roundtable continues with insights from Dirk Camilleri, chief product and technology officer at Green Jade Games, Charlotte Cain, HR manager of Continent 8 Technologies, and David Flynn, CEO of Glitnor Group.
CasinoBeats: How does remote working impact recruitment? Is it harder to find the right person and does the recruitment process change?
DF: Many more candidates are now looking for a remote or hybrid approach to working. Feedback from most recruitment firms is that candidates are turning down opportunities because they don’t offer remote working and they would rather sit tight and wait for the right job to become available.
I think we can all see the benefits of some level of remote working culture. Initially, I’d say we were a little behind the curve for certain roles when considering remote working, but now this is certainly becoming a norm rather than an exception for a role.
“This has allowed us to consider talent from more locations than before, which is great”Charlotte Cain, HR manager of Continent 8 Technologies.
Further, by ensuring that new team members have the tools and support that they need remotely, it is actually becoming easier to find the right person for a position since the pool of people available grows exponentially.
CC: We have continued to recruit at pace throughout the pandemic and in our experience, there hasn’t been a major impact on the speed of our hiring process, or the quality of new employees onboarded. With our expansion plans in full swing, we are continuing to recruit with several vacancies currently open, many of which are flexible in terms of location.
Of course, how we recruit has certainly changed. We had to stop all in person interviews and use video-call interviews instead. Despite a lack of face-to-face time, we felt we could still gain the same experience and suitability insight into candidates.
In fact, we found that the move to remote working opened-up candidates to us that wouldn’t have looked at remote opportunities previously. This has allowed us to consider talent from more locations than before which is great for us as well as those seeking job opportunities.
From a practical point of view, with people not in the office and working from home, candidates were more readily available for interviews and generally more responsive throughout the recruitment process.
Onboarding new starters during a pandemic had its challenges; it is incredibly difficult to have a ‘first day in the office’ when you’re sat in your home office or at your dining room table.
However, we’ve made a conscious effort to integrate new starters into the business and ensure they get the same induction they would have ordinarily experienced. It’s all about solid communications and creating opportunities for new employees to spend as much time with their colleagues as possible, even if they cannot physically sit alongside them.
“A company’s culture is its lifeblood”David Flynn, CEO of Glitnor Group.
DC: It was challenging at first to establish a remote interview process and conduct hiring remotely. However, in doing so it enabled us to have access to a wider range of talent pool and find some real gems in the process.
CB: How does remote working impact on company culture? How do you ensure employees are happy and healthy when working from home?
DF: A company’s culture is its lifeblood. There are three things to focus on when ensuring our teams are healthy and happy when remote; communication, communication and communication. We have spent a lot of time trialling various ways to improve our communication with our teams and we still have some way to go.
For example, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of making presentations to the teams in the office whilst other team members view the same presentation online. However, in some way, this may be seen as an advantage to those in the office.
Our goal as a company is to ensure, whether working remotely or in the office, the culture, experience, ability to communicate and opportunity to collaborate and build relationships is the same.
We are in the process of putting in place a number of measures to ensure that this is the case so that our offices become more culture and collaboration hubs rather than a must-be place to work.
This will be a cultural shift for some members of the team, but it is aligned with empowering and trusting our teams as we focus on becoming the fastest growing, most innovative and entrepreneurial business in the igaming space.
“We give everyone the same level of trust and ownership of their own working days”Dirk Camilleri, chief product and technology officer at Green Jade Games.
DC: We have an overall culture, which encourages ‘grown up thinking’. We give everyone the same level of trust and ownership of their own working days. Even if someone is based in Malta, they are not ‘required’ to come to the office. They have the flexibility and freedom to work where they would like to, ensuring the best possible output in line with company objectives.
CC: In a strange way, people being made to work from home brought some of our staff closer together. It gave an insight into each other’s lives and fostered an attitude of coming together and helping each other get through what has been a time of difficulty.
The pandemic has demonstrated everyone’s resilience and commitment to their job, their colleagues and the company. We’re a close-knit team and this enables us to know when someone’s not feeling 100%. It forced us to make a conscious effort to communicate and check in on our colleagues regularly, to see how they were keeping and to help if they were having a hard time.
As such a geographically dispersed team, we were always used to being physically apart and our culture transcending borders, so none of this has really changed throughout the pandemic. But we did introduce some new initiatives such as online quizzes, regular monthly coffee calls, forums on our intranet and lots of chats about lockdown baking and food in general.
CB: What are the upsides to remote working and how are you leveraging them?
DC: I don’t think there are any leverageable upsides to remote working. I think the key stand out is the ability to employ the very best talent regardless of where they are from. Someone not wishing or being able to move to Malta, which would be a blocker in normal circumstances and would mean we’d lose out on talent, is not the case with remote working.
“Everyone must buy-in to the new normal whatever a company’s decision may be with regards to remote working”David Flynn, CEO of Glitnor Group.
CC: There are several potential benefits to remote working including improved productivity, environmental benefits and work life balance.
The biggest upside is offering employees flexibility. A recent study by research firm Gartner shows that 90% of employers say they are now adopting hybrid working models, mixing work from home with office working. I think it’s fair to say an element of remote working post-pandemic is here to stay.
What’s important is that companies continue to work with their employees as we transition through the next few months; everyone is different, and some people will enjoy being in an office environment with others preferring to work from home. Luckily at Continent 8, we have this flexibility already.
DF: As long as we ensure our teams make the conscious split between work and personal life, the upsides are many. In terms of the company, we have a broader reach for recruitment, a healthier work-life balance for our teams, with less commuting time and thus more family or social time for team members.
This also has the indirect positive effect of a reduced carbon footprint and gives companies much more flexibility with their office space.
Being a rapidly growing business, without remote working we would already have expanded to a new office space to cope with our increased numbers. Instead, we invest more in training, career management and up-skilling. As such, remote working has allowed Glitnor to invest even more in our people, rather than our property.
The next step could be a move towards office-less businesses, using for example WeWork as hubs to help support those team members who don’t have a suitable home working space.
But it is important that any company looking at remote working policies and practices ensure that ALL team members have and use the possibilities available.
It is one thing to implement a remote working policy, but if the c-level of that business all work in the office 100 per cent of the time, it may cause indirect pressure for other team members to follow suit. Everyone must buy-in to the new normal whatever a company’s decision may be with regards to remote working.