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Money Tree Fundraising is an entirely remote company. Whenever I get a sales call asking to speak to our estates manager, person who manages the company’s utility bills or similar I tell the caller this and I am often met with stunned silence and some significant hesitation in the next thing they should say. Being an entirely remote company is obviously rare.

And I am not naive, I know it isn’t suitable for a lot of companies but given that we sell brain power, which comes with its own purpose-built storage solution and we live in the 21st century with all of the technology we are blessed and cursed to have, we really don’t need an office.

Offices cost money. Consider rent, utilities, maintenance, insurance, security, cleaning, furniture… and all of these add to the costs of what you’re doing and impact on your need to raise money.

Offices are bad for the planet. Offices create commuters and transport was the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2017. https://about.fatmap.com/journal-digest/commuting-more-sustainably

Offices are less productive. We mainly work in open-plan environments nowadays and they are noisy and full of distractions. https://www.airtasker.com/blog/the-benefits-of-working-from-home/

Offices are germy. Come on, you don’t need me to prove that one, do you? Take the lack of hygiene on the surfaces (when was your keyboard last cleaned properly?) with the stale air the often circulates, to the proximity of people who can spread germs in the air. Also, here’s an article from Total Jobs sharing an office’s germ hotspots: https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/workplace-hygiene-6-office-germ-hotspots/

For Money Tree Fundraising the decision to be entirely remote was initially a financial one – I didn’t want to increase our rates to pay for offices that we did not have to have.

Since then I have found that removing geography has had additional benefits:

  • We can hire the best fundraisers
  • We can match each organisation to the best fundraiser for them, not the closest or one willing to travel
  • Our fundraisers can work flexibly to suit their lifestyles – including working whilst travelling South East Asia on one occasion.

There are costs associates with being a virtual company:

  • Travel for everyone whenever we ask them to go anywhere
  • Subsistence costs when they’re away from home at our request
  • Space hire when we want to meet in a private space
  • Postage of stuff when virtual or self-printed just won’t do
  • The software that makes it all possible

If you’re thinking about remote working at the moment, be it to help you attract the best possible talent or because you’re considering virus-spread risks, here are my tips:

  • Consider the stuff each person still needs: computer, phone, desk and chair. Be clear from that start about what you will and will not provide, what you will and will not pay for (for instance: personal calls on a work mobile or premium numbers on a personal mobile). Include additional expenses. Write clear policies. Be fair.
  • Check in with your insurer.
  • Set up regular virtual team meetings. When we all worked full time these were twice weekly, to top and tail the week. Now that we are all part-time we top and tail the month in one monthly meeting and check in mid-month too.
  • Make these team meetings video calls and insist that everyone turns on their video. You can do this for free with Skype or you can invest in Zoom or similar software.
  • Make sure your team has chat time within these calls – you can’t just rattle through the agenda without asking how everyone is.
  • Trust your team. Focus on their results, not on the exact hours they spend logged into your server.
  • Build accountability into your virtual meetings – what did each person achieve this week? How does that measure against what they had planned to achieve? What needs to change? And what’s the plan for next week?
  • Invest in software that will make this work:
  • A document storage solution such as Drop Box or Google Drive
  • A project management tool such as Slack or Trello
  • E-signing such as Adobe Sign
  • Cloud-based software such as your CRM and other specialisms
  • Loom Video
  • Make the effort not to hide behind emails and other written messages too much.
  • Call if possible. It’s still better to speak than write.
  • Consider banning internal emails and moving to Slack or similar for team chat.
  • If giving feedback or setting up a new process then Loom Video is brilliant as a free screen-sharing video tool. You talk through the process/feedback etc. and then share the video to one or more people.
  • Meet up face-to-face periodically. We have bi-annual planning days with the core team and swap to meet at different locations so someone gets to have a lie-in each time! Plus we have a full associate get together every couple of years.
  • Don’t forget to budget for these costs – it is not free.

The sister blog to this – thriving as a remote worker – is available here.