Home, sweet ……… workplace

COVID forced FESSA to ask employees to work from home. It became such a success that the company no longer has a physical address.

Lower costs, fewer interruptions, less noise, increased productivity, happier employees and management!

It might sound almost too good to be true, but in short, that is the result of FESSA cancelling the lease on the Pooraka building that has been the physical base for the company for over 10 years.

When COVID hit Australia in March 2020 FESSA management asked the seven-admin staff to work from home to prevent the whole organisation being brought down should one of them catch COVID. Working from home became the new normal until October 2020 when COVID became somewhat more controlled and it was time to return to the FESSA office building in Pooraka.

As nice as it was seeing colleagues again, staff did not in general appreciate being back. The commute (up to 1 hour each way for some), open plan offices with lots of noise from phones etc. and an endless number of unnecessary interruptions made the admin staff approach management with a request.

“Can we work from home on a permanent basis, please?”

Having seen productivity actually increase while staff worked from home, the decision was easy. The lease was cancelled and keys returned to the owner.

So now staff do not have to commute resulting in a solid eight hour day instead of up to ten hours. However, not working from the same location requires coordination. Every morning the admin team has a morning huddle on Zoom to check in with each other, to see what people are planning to do for the day and if anybody is overloaded and needs extra help.

Once a week the team meet face to face for a coffee and once a month the staff members go out for lunch. The meeting does not have a rigid agenda but is more about catching up on a personal level. Being given the time to do so has actually resulted in staff feeling more connected than when working in the office as there was rarely time for informal chats.

The next challenge will be how to welcome and train a new colleague now that everybody is working from home, but management is learning how to do that from other remote working businesses from around the world and so far, a learning programme accessible on Zoom is in place and a set of instructional videos and procedures have been made to bring new colleagues up to speed.

But how do potential customers react to the fact that the company they are considering doing business with can’t be physically found anywhere?

“I am happy to show that it actually is possible to run a successful business without having a physical address. Quite often when I talk to both existing and potential customers and tell them about the staff working from home, they are so impressed that they in jest say they want to come and work with us”, FESSA Managing Director, Alan Short, laughs.

FESSA provides all equipment necessary (desk, chair, computer etc.) and the staff members must provide a dedicated workspace that they can walk away from at the end of the day to prevent work and private life getting mixed up.

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