CEO FOCUS: Jonathan Prew, Housing Partners

May 19th, 2020

CEO FOCUS: Jonathan Prew, Housing Partners

Drax speaks to newly appointed CEO Jonathan Prew of Housing Partners on his virtual onboarding experience.

Jonathan Prew started as the new CEO at Housing Partners in March; however, less than two weeks into his tenure as CEO, the UK went into Covid-19 lockdown. Jonathan had to pick up and continue his onboarding process into the company virtually.

He noticed there was a real difference immediately, going from onboarding in a closed meeting room to online, where he now has more of a sense of what the team collaborations are like and is engaged in their conversations.

To ensure remote onboarding is effective, Jonathan believes in the investment of a high-quality online platform, such as Microsoft Teams, which is now used across their whole organisation.

Jonathan says: “We have a Banter Board set up on Teams, to share jokes and quizzes and it’s a great way for me to see how everyone interacts with each other and keeps things light-hearted.”

He didn’t get a chance to meet with everyone in person before the lockdown started, so there were still many staff members that did not know him. “Sure, meeting and interacting with some staff for the first time on video is not the best, but over time, I am getting to know them better. The online dynamics also makes it easier and more accessible for them to get in touch with me.”

“My online induction experience has been easier than expected, and I feel it has helped more than hindered me and I’ve truly benefitted from this virtual process,” says Jonathan.

What have been the positive outcomes of joining Housing Partners remotely?

As a new CEO, Jonathan feels he’s been more contactable virtually than at the office. The increase in one-on-one time has enabled him to show he’s personable and down-to-earth and has also allowed people to be more candid than they would be in a typical office environment. “We are all in the same situation so we can sympathise with each other’s conditions. Working from home our personal lives, such as children or family, are now more visible, so we all need to be understanding.”

As a result of the remote working, he receives a lot of communications from different teams and is spending more time interacting with some employees that he wouldn’t necessarily speak to in the office daily. “For example, our sales team are usually out on the road, but now I speak to them regularly and they have more involvement with our other teams,” says Jonathan.

What have been some noticeable differences about working remotely?

Working remotely has allowed for more focus and time to work on what is needed to be done. Jonathan says: “This is because there is less distraction, especially when you work in an open plan office, it is very easy for background noise or people dropping by your desk to prevent us from concentrating.”

He adds: “Our employees can turn their attention to different tasks and if they have questions on small matters, it now gives them the opportunity and time to think them through and work these out themselves, before they approach their manager.”

Jonathan has noticed that their online working structure proves that the business can still run and operate remotely. He says: “It gives me a view on how efficient the company and employees are, and to see that the infrastructure, rigour and process of management that was put in place, does work.”

What is the key to leading remotely?

Clear and regular communications is key for any business in this current situation. The senior management team also meet weekly to discuss any important issues that need to be addressed. The business has also recently undergone a restructure, and Jonathan held an all staff video meeting to announce the revised strategy and restructure.

“I make sure to update all staff about the needs of the business and deliver the hard messages too, discussing them on calls and with email updates. I wanted this to make a statement to everyone and demonstrate the importance of being open and honest,” states Jonathan.

Click here to read further on the benefits of online onboarding.

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