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Getting on with the job

One of the many consequences of lockdown has been the realisation that employees can be trusted to work from home. Businesses that use the lessons learned over the last nine months to get the most from their staff will continue to benefit long after we return to ‘normal’.

Business managers tend to fall into one of two groups – those who don’t believe that employees can be relied on to get on with their jobs without being seen or monitored all the time; and those who believe that if workers are given proper training and direction and a degree of flexibility they will just get on with it.

Made not to measure

Productivity is one of the most widely used words in business. Politicians fret about what we produce as a country because GDP is a measure of how well (or badly) they are managing our economy.

But many small companies don’t see the difference between productivity and ‘presence’ and assume that if they can see their staff, they must be doing what they are supposed to be doing. People who never miss a day of work are praised, but could their managers say for sure that they were more productive than colleagues who took time off when sick or dealing with a family emergency?


Any worker can become less productive if they feel they are not supported by their employer. This can also lead to feelings of isolation, which can have a negative effect on mental health.

Video and audio conferencing has enabled companies to connect their staff during lockdown, but the timing of these calls need to reflect the fact that some employees might have childcare or caring responsibilities. By working with them to agree a flexible work schedule on a case-by-case basis, employers can empower them to work when they are most productive and really take charge of their working day.

It is also important that people working from home are not always thinking about work. This can be tough for someone working from a kitchen table, but they should be encouraged to take proper lunch breaks and log off at sensible times.

Technology can help

Surveillance software enables companies to monitor the activities of their staff during working hours, such as the websites they visit and the emails they send. But any company introducing such a system should first explain to its workers why it is being introduced and how it works.

If employees feel that having their activity tracked will help them work more flexible hours they will feel better about the idea of being under surveillance.

In the early months of lockdown we saw a massive surge in technology adoption as both consumers and businesses moved online. For those businesses that have not already done so, this is the perfect opportunity to implement a cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud.

The demands of running a business are considerable. Making it easier for employees get on with their jobs will free up time that can be used constructively to plan for the future.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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