Where I WFH: Alister Harris, CFO of Lokulus
Lokulus offers a range of products and solutions that supercharge customer interactions through a unique series of AI and machine learning bots.
After moving into new offices at Alderly Edge Science Park in March, the team have now, like many others, turned to remote working.
Alister Harris, who is both CFO and COO, shares what his experience of remote working has been like, along with his thoughts on the future of working.
Where in the house do you work?
Historically when I worked from home, I set myself up in our kitchen which has lots of natural light and I can watch the birds feeding on the bird feeder, whilst I stare out during moments of contemplation. However, that has been turned into the home school so I have been banished to my bedroom - at least I can still hear the birds singing.
Paint a picture for us of the view from your window
The view from my window overlooks the back garden, so generally, it is of the kids having fun and playing on their climbing frame and just generally doing what kids do. I think one of the best things about these last few months is that children are realising the fun of just playing.
If you have one, can you talk us through your home-working daily routine?
Having just undertaken a company-wide personality and values assessment, my personality is highly geared to be an improviser, not an organiser, however, I do think good daily routine is essential to ensure I get into a focused work environment and maintain a work-life balance.
My day starts with getting the kids ready in the morning before I hand over to my wife for a day of homeschooling. Following this, I tend to make myself a nice coffee and go upstairs for my daily catch up over Microsoft Teams with the leadership team and then my direct reports, these calls are not always work focused, but it's just good to catch up.
After this, I settle down to whatever the tasks are for that day. One thing I do make sure is that I break for lunch and get some outside/exercise time before the afternoon. Finishing off at tea time with the kids, something that was very rare before the current situation in the week, but something I enjoy very much.
Which tools and technology do you rely on when working from home?
Working in a dynamic software business we are very lucky that we possess processes and collaboration tools that allow us to move easily into working from home. The most common one I use is Teams, we have even run a set of virtual team-building exercises via this too while in lockdown.
In addition to that we have used Sharepoint News to keep communication channels open rather than a barrage of emails, also using Sharepoint for collaboration on documents has been essential.
One forgotten tool here in this era is the humble telephone. Personally I find it easier than video conference when just wanting to catch up or needing to talk something through.
All these tools have not only been great for maintaining consistency and quality for our clients, but we’ve also made sure to use them socially with the team too. We’ve held virtual Lokulus Games every Friday since lockdown which has been great fun, it helps keeps the team connected and bridges the gaps from being in the office all together.
What do you miss most about working from an office?
I miss the buzz of the office, chatting to people at the coffee machine or ping pong table. I miss the natural collaboration which happens with everyone being in one place, and the chat with people I don’t work with on a day to day basis. In March Lokulus moved into our new state of the art office in The Glasshouse, Alderley Edge Science Park. We were happily settling into our beautiful offices and then lockdown came. I am looking forward to settling back in ASAP.
What tips do you have for increasing productivity while working from home?
My main tip for increasing productivity whilst working from home is being clear on what you want to achieve that day, but balancing that with the ability to take breaks (as you naturally would in an office environment.)
Ensure you get out in the fresh air or at least different scenery. Force yourself to stop at the end of the day, otherwise, you can get consumed by work (there is always something to do!!). I recommend taking advantage of the additional time we have without a commute and spend it doing something completely different.
Will you be looking to work from home more in the future?
In a previous life when my office was across the M62, I spent a good proportion of my time working from home. Whilst it has many advantages, I am a people person and like to mix with all the teams at Lokulus and hear about ideas being generated and formed.
So it won't be something I will do as much in the future. However, I do plan to work differently and be more flexible with my time. I’m also prioritising dropping kids off at school rather than rushing to the office.
How do you think the workplace will change in the future?
This situation has just accelerated a process, which was already occurring. As mentioned, we moved into a brand new office on March 1st but had flexible working in mind. All our work was directed to the cloud with more focus was on collaboration space, virtual whiteboards and state of the art video conferencing. But as a software house, this is relatively easy for us.
I do see other industries moving to a more flexible, distributed workforce. This is especially relevant to our core clients of customer services teams, technology such as ours facilitates this by allowing control over the distribution of work, whilst ensuring quality is maintained, there are clear audibility and security.
This will allow our customers, wherever their location, to tap into more experience resources and in turn provide great customer journeys and experience. Our customer service technology strengthens our client’s brand reputation at a time when physical experiences are limited.
There’s nothing like a positive customer service experience to ensure a loyal customer and now this can happen anywhere.