Emma Gaffney, Human Resources Manager at Glider, discusses how Glider is leading the way in terms of employee experience.
Glider is a fully remote or ‘virtual’ business, which it has been since it was founded in 2016. We are an asset information management specialist, delivering software and services to many of the UK’s major public and private sector asset owners and leading construction brands. In just seven years, the company has grown to a team of 29, with plans to expand further as the business grows. The feedback from our close-knit team is consistently positive: ‘we love working here’. As a young business that has grown exponentially over a short period, many are wondering what our secret to success is. We believe that behind every thriving business is a happy team. This is why we believe company culture is a key ingredient to a business’ success.
Our unique company culture
A company’s ethos underpins everything that happens within the organisation. The values, practices and expectations in place at a company affect everything, from the work produced to the wellbeing of its employees. At Glider, we are currently working to define our company culture so that it is clearly put into words for our employees and everyone else to see.
Innovation is at the forefront of everything we do. We recruit the best minds in the construction and Information Management sectors who think outside the box. But we not only aim to be pioneers in Information Management, but also in our progressive company culture. Glider has always been a forward-thinking company, and has been fully virtual – even before the pandemic when working from home became more commonplace.
First and foremost, we see our employees as people. Remote working provides our employees the freedom and flexibility they deserve, allowing them to produce their best work and live healthier, happier lives. A significant number of our employees are working parents, and we appreciate all the challenges that this brings. Therefore, Glider promotes a flexible and family-friendly work culture that allows our employees to work around their personal obligations without any unnecessary stress.
Our employees consistently report that working from home allows them a better work-life balance, and enabling them to remain more productive and engaged. We have experienced first-hand that working from home is one of the most effective ways to fight presenteeism. We never want our team members to be burnt out, which is only counterproductive to their wellbeing and productivity. Providing a positive work environment is the best way to help your team to flourish.
Moreover, working remotely is also part of our environmental policy, as allowing our employees to work from home helps to reduce carbon emissions.
Glider’s culture is also characterised by working hard and playing hard. We see productivity and teamwork as two of our greatest values.
Although we do have a managerial structure, Glider considers itself more of a ‘horizontal’ organisation. All team members are seen as equal, with all ideas and opinions given the same weight. All of our employees, regardless of their role, are willing to help out across departments when a helping hand is needed.
Maintaining strong work relationships
Despite being a remote team nearing 30 people, we maintain strong working relationships. Glider has very supportive, engaged line managers who ensure that all team members receive the same support that you would when working in an office. We keep up to date with each other using the Slack messaging platform which allows us to remain in constant communication despite our team being spread across the country.
We hold weekly virtual coffee sessions to provide the opportunity for interaction, whether its work-related or simply to chat socially with colleagues. These sessions are optional, but we believe it’s important to allocate the time for interaction so the team feels confident to communicate with each other. Likewise, all of our line managers operate with a virtual open-door policy – their teams can come forward at any time with any issue, big or small.
The importance of company events
Remote working provides our employees with the freedom and flexibility required to work productively. This means that when we do meet up in person, the time spent together is all the more precious.
Nick Hutchinson, Managing Director of Glider, was very passionate about organising a company trip to Barcelona to show his appreciation of the team for all their hard work. After not being able to organise a trip due to Covid, our company trip to Barcelona was the perfect way to wrap up the summer.
On the first day of the excursion, the team arrived in time to enjoy a beautiful three-course meal on the marina, followed by an eventful team GPS tablet challenge and an afternoon of exploration. The day was topped off with a fabulous Flamenco dinner and show in the evening. On Saturday, the team shared breakfast together, before transferring to the marina for a catamaran boat cruise where they took in idyllic views of the Mediterranean Sea. After enjoying canapes and lunch onboard, they were able to explore the catamaran docks before returning home.
This was a special team-building experience for the entire team in a social setting. It wasn’t only enjoyable because of the great setting, but because working remotely makes us appreciate spending time together even more. Furthermore, it allowed independent departments to spend time together and to get to know one another on a personal level.
Giving our employees a voice
One of our newer initiatives we have introduced is the ‘Glider Employee Voice’. This quarterly meeting provides the space for employees to explore how Glider can improve as a company, regarding staff wellbeing, productivity and creating a positive work environment. This is a completely collaborative initiative that leverages input from all employees.
As a result of these rolling quarterly meetings, we are looking at introducing improved benefits packages, employee wellness, newsletters, and virtual coffee sessions for socialising.
We are also looking into improving our onboarding process to ensure that there is a full introductory call scheduled and regular check-ins with new employees to ensure they feel supported as they settle into the company.
Investment in employees
We look at our team members holistically and provide ample opportunity for employee progression at Glider, as we value the unique skillset that each employee brings. For example, one of our employees started in support before discovering that her niche was software and quality management. We wanted her to flourish, so we created a role on the Software Development team – a win-win!
Commenting on progression at Glider, Brendan Blakesley, Head of Development, said: “Ensuring Glider’s Development Team’s skills and knowledge are up to date is essential; this is why each team member is assigned two days of training per month. This has been established by the request of the team at Glider, and developers can use this time to investigate new technologies or tools or refresh an existing skill.”
As well as this, we have our own Career Development Review (CDR) scheme in place at Glider which provides a formal touch-point for the team and their line managers to meet quarterly to discuss their workload, set objectives, and ensure wellbeing and work-life balance is being maintained. Following CDRs, we have even provided training to help employees achieve career goals, and improve their work performance and confidence. All of our line managers are supportive, and not only want to see their team perform well, but learn and develop their own professional goals.
We prioritise investment in our team, and as the team grows, taking a holistic approach towards our employees will continue to be a priority to ensure their needs are being met.
We are always interested in hearing from likeminded individuals who have a passion for all things digital and a technological talent for delivering world-leading projects within the digital architecture, engineering and construction space. To find out about our current open positions, please visit our careers page.