As businesses slowly begin to return, we will be catching up with some of our members of the Silicon South Network to see how they have been getting on, how they have adapted to remote working and how being part of the Supporters Network has helped them continue to connect and interact with other businesses and potential clients.
Today’s conversation is with Amanda Harvey, Marketing Manager at Silicon Reef.
Silicon South: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself Amanda, and Silicon Reef?
I am the Marketing Manager at Silicon Reef and have been here for two years, the company has been around properly for 3 years now. Instead of it being a traditional start up, we have been really fortunate that our founders are ex Unilever. So, because of that, Unilever is one of our biggest clients, and therefore we were fortunate to have such a big client right from the off. Through their network, we’ve been able to reach out to clients of a similar size such as; BP, KPMG, Burberry and FIFA. So we have a really established group of clients, and for that reason, despite only trading for a couple of years, we don’t always regard ourselves as a start-up.
In the past, especially with marketing [as it usually takes about 18 months until you can see some results], we finally have been able to see our marketing and sales results kick in. In the past 6 months, even though the country and the whole world has gone into a tizz because of coronavirus, we’ve been really successful due to the fact that what we do is help people work happy remotely. So due to the world and our services, our business has gone up, mainly because all these global corporations also needed to send everyone home. Whether they liked it or not, they had to make everybody find ways of working remotely. Through sending teams to work from home, only then did they realise; their tech was terrible and they didn’t really know what they should be doing, so it was a big shift in routine for many.
Something that we [Silicon Reef] do really well, as a team and company, is working remotely. We have people across the UK. We had somebody move to Manchester, remote working, but then decided to go back to Spain, so they’re now full time from Spain. I’m originally from New York, so there’ll be a few weeks of the year where I go back home to see my family and work from there.
That goes to show we eat, sleep, breathe what we try to implement in our clients and it’s this remote way of working through Microsoft Teams or the Microsoft 365 platform.
This has been the main tool and resources we have offered to companies and clients, to help them accept remote working and turn around quickly with getting their teams up to speed and up to date, with the right tech, how everybody can use this new tech and making sure it is easy for the employer to manage the daily activities.
There are some companies who work from five or more different platforms, and then nobody knows where anything is, and that just drives people to have their own folders. So in summary, it’s all about making other people’s lives easier through maximising the uses of the Microsoft Suite.
Silicon South: How would you recommend new or existing businesses to begin implementing a sustainable work from home structure?
You have to design a work routine for each individual. Employers and businesses must grow and allow their employees to have this flexibility, put the trust in your employees to be adults, get your work done. If that means you have to go take your kids to school in the morning, and then come back and start work, that’s fine and how it should be.
For us, our core hours depend on each individual. As long as we communicate effectively, and our Directors are fully aware of what’s going on, it means there is no need for stress or pressure to be at your desk from 9 to 6. For me, I have the flexibility to do some work in the morning, then go for a walk, make sure you get away from the screen, and zoom fatigue is absolutely becoming a thing. It’s just trying to build a schedule which works for every individual. As long as you’re meeting the assignments, becoming a task-orientated company vs an hours plugged in orientated company is really important for that. So really it is; communication, flexibility and trust above all else to make remote working, work.
We have just had a webinar with LUSH last week, and she discussed a lot of what they went through, not just with coronavirus but also black lives matter. Having these hard core serious meetings over zoom, especially with such an emotive topic, was a strange way for the senior management team to be trained and learn how to deal with that both internally and at their shops as well. So there’s a lot you can do, and we try to pump out as much content as possible to offer our help to businesses out there.
Silicon South: How has Silicon South supported you and Silicon Reef?
Well, Alex had met Annie through one of the Silicon South events where it was like a speed dating atmosphere. Speed networking I think it’s called. Annie has been in the company a little longer than I have, about 2 ½ years, then I came on board as Annie showed them it’s a good idea to invest in marketing early and become involved and maximise the benefits of being part of the [Silicon South] network. From that Silicon South networking event, Alex brought Annie on and I had met Annie through various other clients and work, so then I joined Silicon Reef shortly after. So attending that networking event proved to be a big help.
Unlike many of the other startup companies in the network, our client base and network, is predominately outside the Bournemouth area. Having said that, I know Alex has been able to get on the board at Silicon South and joined the Directors Discussion Group (hosted by Silicon South) which has been really good. As once again, it keeps the networking going, and he really believes in getting involved and supporting the local community.
We’ve also run a few webinars with Silicon South, which has been really good, as we receive quite a lot of feedback from people saying how useful it was and being able to continue to grow our network from there. There’s also quite a big audience which comes through from the Silicon South network to our independent webinars, for instance the one we hosted with LUSH, but then our next one with a local Gentlemen from the NHS Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospital which will be happening later next month. So events like that we are more than happy to share and engage within the network and other supporters, and will be great when we can all finally get back together and network that way as well.
Silicon South: What other benefits have you witnessed or received through being part of the Silicon South Network?
Due to us not necessarily being within the Bournemouth area as much, we’ve mainly benefitted from the networking and being part of the community. Whereas we realise, other members and companies who are set up in Bournemouth will have much greater exposure to the other benefits on offer.
The other huge benefit for us was Alex and Annie meeting, as I mentioned earlier, because it then help set up her coming on board to support Silicon Reef and then finding me, as I never would have found Silicon Reef outside of Annie. Then I think as Silicon South started to provide more networking events and workshops like, meet the client day, directors group and open accelerator programme, that is something we have been definitely interested in. As I know Alex is keen to help out as much as he can to support the local networking community.
For more information on the becoming part of the Silicon South Supporters Network, you can visit our website here, where you can get information such as, how it works, prices and benefits.