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Talent and regulations panel: CEOs and Founders discuss pros and cons of hiring remote workers – and why building company culture is crucial in this day and age

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Thursday, 08 July 2021. Posted in Scaling up, Interviews

Working remotely: Is it a suitable option for all businesses? Or is it better to have in house staff?

Working remotely: Is it a suitable option for all businesses? Or is it better to have in house staff? 

Charlie Mullins, Chairman & Founder of Pimlico Plumbers, Akshay Rupaerelia, Founder & Managing Director of, Valerie Mann, Director of People at Elder and Kate Cox, Chief Marketing Officer at MoneyPenny, joined us for the second day of Elite Business on 12 March in the talent and regulations panel, discussing how to attract new talent to your business and how to build a thriving and productive team. They talked about the rise of remote working and why some businesses favour in-house staff, and why they think it could be better for building company culture. 

How to make your staff feel part of an organisation? When it comes to hiring staff, it’s important to make them feel included in the workplace. A good work culture helps develop a team spirit in employees and in turn, creates an environment that leaves people feeling valued, Kate Cox said.  

“We hire people remotely because we’re looking for people who have brilliant customer service skills...” Kate explained. “When they join, we do ask them to come into the office to be trained, and that for a lot of reasons is so that they can get the shared knowledge and the shared people experience. And then we say there’s a choice whether they want to stay in the office based on government regulations or work from home if that is what they want to do in this pandemic situation. And then we spend an awful lot of time working on the culture. We give out ‘wow’ cards for brilliant customer service, we use Facebook workplace which is a great tool for colleagues to interact, and we spend a lot of time on random acts of kindness and giving gifts out... There’s a lot of energy at the senior level... We baked cookies for our employees, NHS, family and friends, etc.” 

Since the pandemic, remote working has been on the rise and thousands of businesses across the UK have been forced to adhere to strict lockdown rules. Now, some businesses have even allowed their employees to work remotely. However, not all companies prefer this approach, as some value a more face-to-face working approach, like Charlie Mullins, Chairman & Founder of Pimlico Plumbers. 

“We’re a very traditional company, maybe old-fashioned in our ways,” Charlie said. “Company means company. And I’m not a great fan of working from home I'm not going to hide that. I think customer service and all departments should work together; you’re learning skills off of each other. There are times to be with each other and around each other. So for me, can it be done in certain areas? Yes, it can. Would we do it? No, we wouldn’t.” 

He added: “You’re missing that company feel. Your training, your skills, you’re interlinking with people, what we’re about... You’re missing the ethos of it all. People are working from and it works for some people, and some it doesn’t. And I’ve tried working from home, but I think you may not be getting the best out of it.” 

How do you look for the best talent for your business? It’s important to be very clear about your brand and your culture and to recruit employees who fit your company as a whole. “We also have an ace recruiting team, and we have to be very crystal clear about our brand and who we are and our culture,” Valerie Mann, Director of People at Elder, said. “And they do headhunt and find the talent that we need. They’re very clear about what that talent needs to be. Now but also for the future.”  

Also, it’s not just about flashy resumes. Akshay Rupaerelia, Founder & Managing Director of, said the attitude and coachability of his staff are important, and he actively looks for employees who can see the long-term vision of the company.

“We’ve been focused on hiring based on attitude, whether they’re younger, older or whatever it might be doesn’t really matter,” Akshay said. “And coachability is also really important to us. Especially in a start-up, how engrained can you become in the company and the vision for the end goal and supporting the customer... I'm now of the mindset, I’m looking to bulk up the management team. My next hire will be operations director or sales director, where it very much does need a lot more experience, and it does depend on the role as well.”

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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