Brendan Ring is Chief People Officer at Otonomee, one of our Employer Partners.
Earlier this month, Grow Remote welcomed Brendan to speak as part of our Local Leader Training, a course for remote employees who want to make a social impact in their community.
This is an excerpt from the conversation that followed. You can read more about our Employer Partnership programme here.
Confronting The Challenge
At Otonomee, our focus has been on finding the best team members, no matter their location.
From my experience, that was always the challenge and it has never been so topical. How do you find the best talent? And once you have found them, how do you engage them and retain them?
Before Otonomee, I was HR Director in Voxpro. We managed thousands of people. However, we were fighting an uphill battle – just like many companies still have now: Talent Retention.
Not only did we want the best talent, but we wanted the best talent to relocate to big cities – away from their homes and families – and sit at a designated desk. The model was, and continues to be, restrictive.
Finding A Solution, Remotely
Otonomee was founded in June 2020 to solve the problems that we saw in the traditional Contact Centre, Big City Big Facility environment.
We are Ireland’s first purpose-built, fully remote, tech enabled BPO (Business Process Outsourcer).
A lot of our customers are fast tech companies who have a scaling customer base and are looking for customer support, technical support, sales support, business development, or process improvement. It is a very exciting space to be involved in and scaling is easy once you know how to do it. We’ve made it easier for ourselves by removing location as an obstacle to finding talent.
Led by Values
The name Otonomee comes from the word Autonomy. Otonomee gives employees the choice of where and how they want to live their life.
Employees have the autonomy to choose where they work from, whether that’s a city, or Youghal, or Kerry, living abroad or settling in the midlands; wherever they feel they can do their best work, that’s where we want to support them to work from.
It’s not just about where you work, it’s also how you work.
When Covid hit, traditional Business Process Outsourcing companies (BPOs) were talking about ways to ‘watch’ employees to make sure they’re actually doing their jobs. That is why, in some ways, the BPO model was broken.
There can be a severe lack of trust which fundamentally leads to a poorer service. The traditional BPO model can be very much a parent-child relationship between the organisation and the employees.
At Otonomee, we felt that the BPO should be better.
We hire adults. We leave them to do meaningful work wherever they find meaning.
Getting Offline, Together
To counteract social isolation and support team morale, part of our strategy is dedicated to getting people together offline.
COVID has obviously restricted some of our plans but in March 2022, we had a ‘Together Day’ in Cork for anyone who wanted to come together and meet. We plan on bringing employees together on a regular basis. This is not easy now that we allow such location flexibility but it is worth the effort.
It is crazy to think that making the decision to go remote has changed some of our employees’ lives in a hugely positive way. It’s very powerful to hear these personal stories.
We have people who attained mortgages and bought their very first house since they’ve joined us. For some this was a distant dream due to city prices. We’ve people who are now living closer to their parents, which they thought they couldn’t do while maintaining their career. We have a college intern in Ballydehob who loves his job and can work remotely, meaning he can get involved in the local community. We now have employees who get to drop and collect their kids from school. These are all powerful stories that reinforce to us the benefit of remote working.
In Q4 of 2021, we launched in Portugal.
It was a huge milestone and something we are very proud of. From a candidate perspective, there is a huge demand for remote working. Some employers are not so keen on a remote workforce, which has provided us with an opportunity.
We’ve been blown away by the talent that we have found.
Thanks to Grow Remote and other advocates in Ireland, remote employment is seen very favourably in Ireland. It’s amazing to see.
We are hiring for a number of roles across Ireland and Portugal currently and we have exciting plans to double every year for the next four years. I’m glad we don’t have to worry about relocating candidates and we can concentrate on getting the best candidate in the best location.
Why would you limit your chances of finding the best talent, no matter where they live?