On March 17th of 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines mobilized the military to implement a strict quarantine to contain the coronavirus. Within 24 hours, the entire country would be on lockdown and travel on highways and between counties would become strictly limited.
I found out about this in a 3 am text message from my Chief Operating Officer, Craig. At around 7 am the military was already in the process of blocking traffic to and from the city. Working quickly, the SupportNinja team was able to deploy computer and internet hotspots to hundreds of employee homes. Within 48 hours, we were 96% up and running.
At this point the work-from-home practice is well established and will remain so even after the pandemic vaccine is out. What companies are now asking themselves is how to plan around this new reality.
Questions I find myself asking:
- How do I maintain our company’s culture?
- What happens when an employee needs technical support?
- What will recruitment look like?
- How do we overcome distance bias?
Our Solution: NinjaHubs
As a solution, we created what we are calling the Remote Hub Model, or more affectionately, NinjaHubs (also referred to as the Hub and Spoke Model) and it goes like this. Say a company is looking to expand into a new country or region. They do some research on cities that have a large enough pool of applicants, a good living index, and a top university or two. They condense their list until there is one city showing the most potential. This becomes their hub.
As employees of their company, they will work remotely no more than a three hour drive away from the company’s hub.
The employees working remotely represent the spokes in the NinjaHub Model.
Benefits of NinjaHubs
All the benefits of remote work are there. Team members can work from the comfort of home and the company can expand the talent pool to include new areas. Having proximity to an office alleviates some of the concerns listed above. In the Philippines scenario, SupportNinja was able to be up and running faster than anticipated because there was an office located nearby with the ability and the resources needed to get team members up and running. In a fully remote scenario, it could take months for the migration to settle in. Rather than deploying vans and personnel, we would have to wait through lengthy shipping times for the necessary equipment to arrive.
Based on our latest data, 30% of our employees are referred to us by our own employees. We find that these prospective employees are more prepared for the job and perform the highest.
In-person events are another recruitment channel that we plan to continue to use with the NinjaHubs model. Fully remote without regard to the location would make both of these recruitment channels a challenge.
Keeping employee churn low and providing work-life balance is key to SupportNinja’s success. We consider it an advantage over our competitors. To expand employment engagement even further, we plan to host regular retreats by region and allow employees to use the office as a coworking or brainstorming space. To us, face to face time is important to prioritize in our plans moving forward.
At SupportNinja, we are expanding to new countries using NinjaHubs in key cities. We will be providing our clients with more languages, an expanded talent pool, and more redundancy. Once we meet an employee threshold, we will establish a physical office space in the hub to support and enable the team members in the region. The NinjaHubs model enables us to expand organically without worrying about extensive capital outlay in the beginning. See what we are planning in the video below!
The Key: Mastering A Remote Workforce
Remote work is not going away. Making a roadmap for how your team will adjust and expand in the future is key. For general tips on how to manage your remote workforce. Check out our Webinar series on managing a remote workforce.