EP is an expert in thought leadership for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry. It publishes digital media, magazines and books, organises networking events, and offers a range of consultancy services.
Because there is such a broad range of services on offer, EP is comprised of around 12 office-based employees and 15 associates.
Some of the employees work remotely, but founder Chris Sheppardson is not particularly keen on employees working from home. Speaking with Real Business, he told us how he manages the home workers.
For Sheppardson, the reason an employee wants to work remotely is crucial to deciding whether or not it should be allowed.
“Working parents generally are very good, because they’re very focused. They’re doing it for a very clear reason, and you can trust them to get the job done,” he said.
“With younger people who come from a corporate background to join us, it’s a bigger issue because they normally see homeworking as part of trust. I’m not overly pro-homeworking on that basis, because as an employer you want to have a very strong culture and team. To get that, you’ve really got to get the team together and have a shared vision.”
Some people do want flexible working to allow them to have a better work-life balance, and it can be used as a retention tool.
However, Sheppardson tries not to offer it as he has concerns that some employees would treat it “almost like extra time off during the week”.
Communication and wellbeing
EP has an “old-fashioned” business culture, which is all about putting the customer first and trying to provide added value, but Sheppardson is also keen to highlight the importance of communication with employees to ensure a sense of community and wellbeing.
“It’s all about communication, and talking to employees all the time if you’re going to bring a team together. It’s about how you get them to feel part of the central vision,” he explained.
Seeing staff in person also makes it easier to spot the warning signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
“The warning signs are actually quite clear because we have quite an intense environment, it’s flat out the whole time. You can tell from someone’s whole body language and the way they’re communicating,” he said.
Overall, Sheppardson believes that morale goes in line with success – it is usually high during a successful period, and if the business has a rough patch then it can be more of a struggle.
The more the team pulls together to make the business a success, the happier they will be at work – it’s about communicating with employees and finding a way to get them to buy in to the success of the business.
“There’s a lovely old saying that in football, the team’s morale is great 15 minutes after a win.”