Where flexible working is always welcome, even from different time zones

If a team member asked to work overseas permanently, many employers would see it as a flexible-working request too far. Yet one Lancashire business leader says that having a team spread across the UK and abroad enables them to deliver a better service to their clients.

According to Alison Grady, managing director of Burscough-based creative audio-visual production company Redolution, having colleagues in different time zones is anything but a drawback.

The company, which specialises in creating adverts for TV, radio and digital, has a flexible workforce in the UK and overseas, including in Morecambe, Blackburn, Hemel Hempstead, Hull and London as well as Thailand, Greece and Romania.

Alison says: “Far from it being something to try to hide or muddle through, I feel that having a team which is spread across times zones, in the UK and overseas, is a real asset for us.

“My husband and I, creative director Damian, are based in Burscough, and our third director Ritchie lives in Thailand, some seven hours ahead.

“It means that we can start a project during the day and then pass it to Ritchie who can work on it during our night-time.

“When we log on in the morning the project has been progressed and we might already be in a position to feed back to clients. It means we can provide a much faster turnaround and more responsive service than if we were all based in the same office.”

“We’ve always been a very tech-savvy organisation. Our work is centred around cloud-based software so it simply doesn’t make any difference to us where we are based. All our team members need is a computer and a good internet connection.

“In fact, when Covid hit, it took us 15 minutes to make the switch to home working. We didn’t miss a beat: we simply picked up our laptops and went home.”

Alison puts some of her flexible attitude and willingness to embrace change down to her participation in the Lancashire Forum, a leadership development programme from Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) as part of Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub.

“We have certainly had an interesting time since the pandemic began.

“As Covid took hold, we could see straight away the implications for us as a business: demand for big-screen adverts would disappear as cinemas closed, and lockdown would make filming with actors and crew impossible.

“However, thanks to taking part in the Forum we had already started using the Business Model Canvas, which allowed us to produce our business plan on a single sheet of paper. It’s so simple and visual that we could see could see straight away that, by switching to create animations, we could continue to make films that clients could use across all their channels, without any need for studios, crew or actors. And that’s exactly what we did.

“In short, we reinvented ourselves. Participating in the Forum gave me the clarity to see where we could pivot and the confidence to drive that change forward - Redolution 2.0 we called it. As a result, we survived and are now growing again.”

The Lancashire Forum is designed to help leaders of Lancashire-based SMEs who want to build businesses that focus on both profit and purpose. It helps them navigate change, including recovering from the pandemic and the end of the Brexit transition period. It is fully funded for Lancashire businesses that employ between three and 250 full-time employees and which have a turnover of less than €50m (or equivalent in GBP).

The next Lancashire Forum cohort begins on 29 September 2021 and will combine face-to-face and online sessions. For more information visit the Lancaster University Management School website.

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