Business insights: How integrity and diversity can help achieve growth
2021 was an exciting year for IT Hotdesk, from developing free educational material to support local businesses to expanding our service offering and launching our security awareness training. The last 12 months have been challenging yet rewarding in equal measures.
In our latest blog post, IT Hotdesk’s managing director, Gordon Christie provides his insights into how the company has achieved business growth despite the ongoing climate, whilst sharing some skills and lessons learned along the way.
Looking back on the past 12 months…
“Thankfully, 2021 was a much better year. I won’t pretend that wasn't without its challenges, but until recently the lockdown in Q1 was a distant memory.
“Working from home, and the increased need for remote access has highlighted to businesses the importance of IT, and that without it operations can quickly stop. When the pandemic first hit, we made sure that our customers were supported, offering flexible payment terms on new equipment and carrying out additional work at no extra cost.
“Across the board, we have seen businesses invest in their IT infrastructure and standardising their systems, ensuring that their employees are equipped with the tools that they need.
“Despite the current uncertainty around the restrictions, we ended 2021 feeling positive about the future and grateful for the support of our customers and suppliers.
“So much has happened last year. It’s hard to put it into one sentence but if I had to, it would have to be… 2021 is the year that we learned to have fun again, things that were once taken for granted were exciting and even in the challenging times, we learned to look for the positives.”
Understanding the impact of Covid
“Across the UK, businesses have felt the backlash of the Covid-19 pandemic. The speed at which technology changes and new systems are introduced can be quite daunting for business owners, and when times are tough financially it is too easy to neglect areas that are not deemed mission critical.
“Although our customers are our priority, I wanted to see as many businesses come out the other end and as unscathed as possible. As a result, we launched our business insights campaign, which consists of webinars, educational blogs, informative quizzes and articles, that is completely free for everyone to access. The aim of our campaign was not to win new business but to educate the general public on the importance of IT, and how technology can help achieve business success.
“With regards to our own business, our team is fully embedded into the hybrid ways of working. Covid-19 has taught us the importance of adaptability, and that as long as the work is being done, the time or location in which work is carried out should be flexible.
“From a financial perspective, towards the end of the year, we saw strong signs of recovery and achieved over 20% growth during the final half of the year. As a result, we are now operating at a higher level than we were pre-pandemic - which is a great achievement for the team.”
Striking the right balance
“Staff management has to be the biggest challenge of 2021. In Q1 business was quite slow and many projects were still on hold, which meant that some team members were quieter than usual. Not one to sit and do nothing, the team were involved in creating a suite of educational content that was free for anyone to access.
“In Q3, staff management was still a challenge but for different reasons. As we continued to grow at a steady pace, it was important to me that the workload was balanced within the team and that no one felt overwhelmed or under pressure - both for employee morale and maintaining a quality service.”
Diversifying in the face of adversity
“From a personal perspective, the biggest highlight of 2021 is being recognised as a finalist for the Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Business of the Year’ Northern Star award. We’re still waiting to find out the final results, but even being considered as a finalist is a huge success.
“Another positive to come from 2021 is the way in which we continued to grow both our customer base and our service offering. Recognising early on that our customers required additional support when it came to cyber security, I hired a senior member of staff to expand our cyber division, and launched our own security awareness training.
“Since then, our team has hosted a number of cyber security webinar events and spoke at the first ever Cyber Live event - a hybrid event that invited business owners and managers from all sectors to come together and learn about cyber security, and how it plays a vital role in business.”
The importance of a great team
“It goes without saying, I’m most proud of the team and how everyone has continued to support one another. When business began to pick up, the team worked together to maximise our service offering, ensuring that we could respond quickly to the increase in demand from Q2 onwards.
“Everyone has their own individual challenges, whether that’s homeschooling while working from home, the inability to travel to see family, or dealing with health concerns - but every single member of our team has taken each day in their stride and worked together to support our customers as well as each other.
“We’re in a really great place this year. The team is currently made up of a group of like minded individuals, who have the same high level of work ethic and desire to deliver a quality service as I do. As a business owner this is a rare find but one I am delighted about. Because we’re aligned in the way that we think and operate, I know that I can trust the team to consistently deliver a quality service - giving me time to focus on developing our clients IT strategies or working on our own growth plans.”
Investing in our future
“This year will be a busy one for us. The IT landscape is forever evolving, with new technologies being introduced and systems frequently changing, it’s important that the team continues to grow and learn - ensuring that they are at the top of their game.
“I’ve already committed to investing £30,000 in staff training, and have an additional £20,000 set aside for any future programmes. IT is ever-evolving and I believe that we need to continue to upskill and develop our offering, in order for our team to stay at the top of their game.”
Achieving gold standard service
“As with most businesses, we have operational and financial goals and would like to grow our service offerings in a range of sectors. But for IT Hotdesk, the biggest goal of 2022 is to achieve the ISO 27001 - which is a framework that helps organisations establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve their information security management system. This accreditation is recognised globally as the gold standard of operations and will take our operations to the next level.
“I think that 2022 will be our most exciting year to date. We have a lot in the pipeline already and the year has barely begun.”