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Remote working has been forced upon millions of people in the UK, and for many individuals and businesses, it is a new experience. Our new series of podcasts, Work Is Not a Place, will explore all aspects of home, mobile and flexible working.

We will look at the practical and cultural differences of working alone as opposed to in the workplace, and how best to adapt to a new way of working.

We will also explore a wide range of topics and the things that need to be considered from practical, cultural, and compliance perspectives. There are also many benefits to remote working that create opportunities to provide a better work/life balance for employees. At the same time, employers can reap the benefits of attracting and retaining better talent.

The podcast will feature Chief Executives, Directors, Senior Management, HR, IT and Strategy experts who will discuss their experiences of creating a sustainable approach to flexible and remote working.


Episode 1 – Mobilising the Workforce

Host Fred MacAulay is joined by Cantium Business Solutions CEO, Mark Scott, Executive Head of HR, Gill Nye, and Director of Strategy, Nick Hunter.

In this initial podcast of Work Is Not a Place, the team discuss how they have mobilised their entire workforce of 500+ staff to work from home. They chat about how they have addressed the various issues that had to be considered when moving people from the structured environment of the office to working remotely.

While Cantium has been long-time advocates of flexible working, they have identified the need to work with the whole team to help them adapt to an enforced and prolonged period of working alone at home.

It’s an interesting insight into how they are monitoring the health, wellbeing, and productivity of the workforce, and how they are learning more about the strengths and motivating factors the drive their personnel.



Episode 2 – Productivity and Performance

Host Fred MacAulay is joined by Cantium Business Solutions CEO, Mark Scott, Executive Head of HR, Gill Nye, and Director of Strategy, Nick Hunter.

In this episode, the team focus on productivity and how to get the best from a team while working apart. They chat about the nuances of video calls and how to deal with the missing body language that we unconsciously read when in physical meetings. In addition, the highlight the need to create thinking time in preparation for meetings and reflection time afterwards.

They also look at how to measure productivity and performance and some of the things that you can do to ensure staff members are being recognised for their efforts. Also, how you deal with the onboarding of new staff and make them feel part of the team, even though they haven’t physically met.
Again, it’s an interesting and honest discussion about the benefits of empowering personnel to make their own choices about work/life balance.



Episode 3 – Technology

In this episode, Fred MacAuley is joined by Mark Scott, CEO at Cantium and his colleagues, Mark Harris, Executive Director for IT, and James Young, Head of IT Strategy and Architecture.

Obviously, technology plays a pivotal role in enabling a remote and flexible work culture.  Choosing the right equipment is essential in creating a consistent experience regardless of whether the user is in the office on desktop or working remotely on a laptop or mobile device. The team discuss the main challenges and considerations in order to provide the correct balance of security and usability.

They also explore the issues with connectivity and the benefits of using Anywhere SIM technology to provide a better and more stable solution. The team also chat about cloud computing capacity and how well cloud service providers have coped with the recent increase in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Episode 3 is an excellent insight into what technology issues need to be considered when enabling staff to work remotely.



Episode 4 – Information Governance

In this episode, Fred MacAuley is joined by Cantium CEO, Mark Scott, James Young, Head of IT Strategy and Architecture, and Nick Hunter, Director of Strategy.

The team are focusing on Information Governance and looking at what you need to consider to protect data when adopting a remote working culture. They look at how you create the correct balance between security and usability and the need to continually reinforce the messages that ensure employees remain vigilant about security.

They explore the collaborative tools that help to convey the correct messages, and that reduces the need for paper output. Throughout the discussion, they reveal tips that assist the workforce, such as using second screens and creating a ‘safe environment’, even within the home.

It’s an interesting discussion with valuable information about best practice in information governance, especially when employees are increasingly working out of the office environment.  This goes beyond the use of office machines and looks at some of the threats from smart devices in the home and the need to be aware of where data is being stored.



Episode 5 – Mobility Redefines Geography

In Episode 5, Fred MacAuley is joined by Mark Scott, CEO at Cantium, Brett Smith, Associate Director, and Nick Hunter, Director of Strategy.

This session explores how connectivity is breaking down geographical barriers. Whether in sales or recruitment, the ability to operate remotely offers many opportunities for organisations to widen their location targeting. So, how will this impact current strategies and in what way will these new online relationships differ from the traditional face-to-face relationships?

Also, what does the future look like for face-to-face meetings, conferences and exhibitions? And, if this type of networking is now obsolete, what does the new sales landscape look like?

These are all topics that the panel explore in this open and informative session with interesting references to diverse subjects like the Blitz of World War 2, and the hit film Glengarry Glen Ross!



Episode 6 – Bringing the Workforce Back

Cantium CEO, Mark Scott, Executive Director of HR, Gill Nye, and Director of Strategy, Nick Hunter join Fred MacAuley for this episode. The discussion centres around bringing the workforce back to their workplaces and the plans that are being put in place to keep them safe and mentally secure.

Firstly, they outline the various challenges and the need to be mindful of differing attitudes toward a return to the workplace. So, it’s about implementing smart controls, but with adequate provision for flexibility.

Much of the process is about engagement with the staff and education about new hygiene processes that meet not only Government guidelines, but also the expectations of fellow employees.

The discussion also explores how social distancing might be achieved by a combination of physical changes to office layouts, shift patterns, extended working hours, flexible working and a continuation of home working.

They also explore how the management team are seeking to take the positives from the enforced lockdown to implement even more flexible working arrangements for the staff in the future.


Episode 7 – Personal Development and Learning & Development

In Episode 7, Host Fred MacAuley welcomes Cantium CEO, Mark Scott and Executive Director of HR, Gill Nye to a discussion about Personal Development and Learning and Development.

Like many businesses, Cantium has excellent processes in place to encourage personal development, which under normal circumstances, serves them well. However, under current conditions and when adopting a remote working culture, how do you maintain effective personal and learning development programmes?

In this open discussion, the team share how they have initiated new online methods of communicating with staff and assessing their progress. They discuss how culture plays a significant role in empowering their staff to make suggestions and to challenge the way things are currently implemented.

Mark and Gill also reveal how their new recognition app has become an invaluable tool that allows them to recognise the efforts of their staff on a daily basis.

All in all, it’s another interesting and insightful discussion with some useful information on how an organisation with 500+ staff is managing to maintain an excellent programme for personal and learning development.


Episode 8 – Marketing During Pandemic Events

In Episode 8, Host Fred MacAuley welcomes Cantium CEO, Mark Scott, Head of Marketing, Peter Fennell and Gordon White, Managing Director of Marketing Agency, fatBuzz. This discussions centres around marketing through pandemic events.

They begin with the consideration facing most businesses as to whether or not companies should reduce their marketing budget during disruptive times, such as the recent lockdown in the UK.

In Cantium’s case, the decision was to expand the marketing activity and respond to the need to communicate effectively during the period.  But, how did they achieve this and ensure the right messages were relayed at the right time?

The team discuss how brands can build a high level of Trust Capital by remaining true to their core values, rather than letting the pandemic become the story. Being aware of the messaging and the need to be empathetic to the situation as the situation developed was critical; but also be aware that the communication was not just for clients, it was equally important to get the right messages out at the right time for the benefit of the staff.

The team also look at how Agency/Client relationships have developed in the remote working environment and how this may alter the way they collaborate in the future.

Overall, the team agreed that the requirement to remain relevant and be highly aware of the customer needs was the key to quickly returning to a strong position.


Episode 9 – The Staff’s Perspective

In episodes 1 – 8 we’ve heard a great deal about the team at Cantium Business Solutions, in episode 9 we hear from them. In this episode, we are joined by several people working with Cantium to discuss how they have adapted to home working during the COVID-19 lockdown.

As usual Fred MacAuley hosts the podcast and is joined by regulars, Mark Scott, CEO at Cantium, and Gill Nye, Executive Head of HR. Participating for the first time are Jodie Martin, Senior Recruitment Advisor, Gavin Whalley, Group Architecture Manager, and Solutions Manager, Pete Thistleton.

Each of the contributors is living in very different circumstances. So, there is a good cross-section of experiences during the lockdown. Interestingly, one of the team, Gavin Whalley, has joined the business since lockdown started, so he talks about the onboarding process and how he has dealt with joining the company in these circumstances. Pete Thistleton is also very open about the challenges of him and his wife working from home with three young children, one of which has Cystic Fibrosis.

In addition, Gill Nye reveals findings from the staff survey, which is an interesting insight into how the personnel are coping and what they miss about life in the office.


Episode 10 – The CEO’s Perspective

In Episode 10, Fred MacAuley and Cantium CEO, Mark Scott chat about the previous nine topics. A lot has happened since the podcast launched three months ago; so, they took the opportunity to review the discussions so far and to explore what they have learnt during this initial period.

Mark begins by talking about the learning process around online meetings and making the staff comfortable with a new etiquette that accepted dogs barking, doorbells ringing and kids having the odd walk-on part. He explains how, regardless of unfamiliar working conditions, productivity has risen, and overall performance has improved. Key to this was the attention paid to staff wellbeing and leading by example, admitting it was okay to feel stressed, but putting in place a network which supported them if they were feeling pressured.

Technology has played a key part in a successful period of remote working and Mark explains how their IT infrastructure enabled them to make the transition to homeworking, and what further investments are planned to strengthen future flexible working options.

Mark also provides his views on the future of exhibitions and conferences and what Cantium are doing to develop relationships and build the business. Indeed, he cites a useful example of how they have onboarded a client during the period and how this experience has opened up new opportunities to provide better options for clients in the future.

It is a positive conversation that demonstrates how the business has progressed and how they will use the experience to become an even better business. Greater options for staff will create a better work-life balance, and clients will benefit by being able to access a bigger pool of talent more quickly. Indeed, the business will also benefit by drawing talent from further afield, and onboarding them remotely.



Episode 11 – Changing Insource to Outsource

In Episode 11, podcast host, Fred MacAuley welcomes back Cantium‘s CEO, Mark Scott and their Head of Strategy, Nick Hunter to talk about the increasing demand for outsourced back-office services.

As businesses grow, naturally, the requirement for back-office services increases; traditionally, there has been a tipping point when many companies realise that outsourcing some services is a more efficient way to control back-office costs. However, now, in many cases, the cost is not the primary driver for outsourcing; increasingly, flexibility is a deciding factor. During a period when the only certainty is that uncertainty will be around for the long-term, it is essential to be agile.

Mark, Nick and Fred explore how Cantium is reacting to the changing needs of their clients during this extended period of flux.

They explore how open and transparent communication is the key to finding the optimum working model for each client. Now, the service offering is influenced by the client’s risk appetite and their precise requirements at any given time. They also explain how throughout the relationship, the ability to increase and decrease resources as and when required is a significant motivating factor.

The conversation highlights the blurring of the lines between insourced and outsourced personnel. When most people are working remotely, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish who is outsourced and who works inhouse. Ultimately, this is a good outcome where all personnel are playing their part as members of the team.



Episode 12 – Returning to the Office Environment

In Episode 12, Fred MacAuley joins Cantium CEO, Mark Scott, and Executive Head of HR, Gill Nye to discuss returning to the office environment. Government guidelines update continuously in response to the current spread of the virus; but even so, Cantium is looking to the future and planning for the new working environment.

The discussion explores both the physical and emotional elements that need to be considered to provide a safe, engaging and collaborative environment in the future. The team accept that recognising and accommodating the individual needs of each employee whenever possible is crucial; however, they also point out the need to balance the health of the workforce and the health of the business.

It’s an interesting and open discussion about the role communication plays in ensuring the management team know what the staff need and want; but equally, for letting the staff know what management is doing to support them. Mark and Gill explain why they believe leaders must provide the tools that enable the workforce to be agile, and why employees need to take ownership of the new circumstances and be respectful and supportive to one another and the business.

Inevitably, recent events will have a permanent impact that will require a rethink of some of the people policies; the team chat about how these changes will aim to maximise the positive aspects to come from the pandemic to create a better working environment for everyone.



Episode 13 –  Making Cyber Security Part of the Everyday Conversation

In this episode, Fred MacAuley is joined by Cantium CEO, Mark Scott and Nick Hunter, Cantium’s Head of Performance Assurance & Governance. The topic is around data protection and the need to create a culture whereby data security and an awareness of the ongoing risks become part of the subconscious — the team highlight why data protection needs to become part of everyday conversation.

With much more data being gathered for track-and-trace, and the many people working remotely, there is a need to make everyone aware of the added risks of data breaches at this time. However, as businesses inevitably move towards long-term agile working arrangements, they need to review their current data security to minimise the additional risks when operating with a disparate workforce.

The team talk about the need to make employees aware of their digital footprint and how to spot potential attacks; moreover, what they need to do if they do become the victim of an attack.

They also discuss how to replace the conscious and subconscious reminders about security that staff would typically experience in the controlled environment of the office. All-in-all, it’s an informative discussion on what is an increasingly important topic.



Episode 14: Cyber Resilience: Buzz words or business culture?

Episode 14 is an engaging and highly topical conversation with podcast host, Fred MacAuley, Cantium’s CEO, Mark Scott, and Justin Torgout.

Justin is Director of The South East Cyber Resilience Centre. As an experienced Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), having managed large scale investigations and as an accredited Kidnap & Extortion manager Detective Superintendent Justin Torgout has 25 years of policing experience.

Justin outlines the purpose and objectives of the Cyber Resilience network and highlights how they work in partnership with regional Policing, Academia, Businesses, Third and Public Sector organisations to deliver various cybersecurity services.

The conversation explains why many businesses, even small retail operations, are cyber businesses and susceptible to online attacks. This highlights the need for greater awareness throughout the SME community about the potential to be disrupted by an increasingly active cybercriminal community.

Mark and Justin share their thoughts on what needs to happen to make the cyber issue an everyday consideration and why it needs to become part of all companies’ business culture.



Episode 15: Taking positive action in the face of adversity

In Episode 15, Fred MacAuley is joined by Cantium CEO, Mark Scott and Matt Johnson, Director at Cantium’s sister company, KCS.  The business is a procurement business primarily involved in education. It comprises nine different brands that provide education supplies, recruitment, print and a frameworks service. Also, they offer education supplies to British overseas schools in 86 countries.

The conversation explores how the pandemic has impacted their operation as schools moved to a home-schooling environment. They also chat about how they worked closely with Cantium to resolve the disruption of a recent cyber attack.

KCS has played a significant role in the support for front line services. Matt explains how KCS deployed their logistics experience and resources; initially, with PPE provision, and more recently working with the Army, the Council and the local community to set up and supply COVID testing centres.

Matt talks passionately about the impact their recent activities have had on the staff; the pride with which his team has reacted to the demands and the fact that they are doing something positive in fighting the pandemic.

Mark, Fred and Matt talk about how the Group’s response to the pandemic highlights the benefits of a Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo) and the reason why they exist, which is to deliver profit with a purpose.



Episode 16 – Waiting for mental health legislation, is completely missing the point

In the latest episode, Fred MacAuley chats to Cantium CEO, Mark Scott and Cantium’s Ross Miller, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services. They discuss staff wellbeing and how Cantium is striving to make it part of the everyday conversation in the workplace.

Ross explains the resources and training that has been put in place to enable management and staff to support one another during a stressful period. Much of the conversation revolves around educating people to be aware of their stress levels and that many things affect our ‘stress containers’ capacity. And when accepting that they are stressed, they need to be confident there is no stigma attached when they seek help.

With one in four people experiencing mental health issues, it is an important topic that all business leaders need to address. As Mark rightly points out, “if you’re waiting for legislation to force you to address the topic, then you’re missing the point”. Leaders must accept that stress-related issues exist in all businesses, and proper management of mental health issues is critical, not only because it is the right thing to do, but effective management will ultimately result in greater productivity.



Episode 17 – Cyber Resilience – Establishing national collaboration

In the latest episode, Fred MacAuley chats to Cantium CEO, Mark Scott, Commercial Director, Mark Cobb, and Mandy Haeburn-Little, Executive Chair at BRIM (Business Resilience International Management). They discuss the current state of play with cyber security and the progress in setting up nine regional business resilience centres in England and Wales.

The conversation then looks at the impending launch of a National Cyber Resilience Group. Mandy explains the reasoning behind the new national group and how it will accommodate greater collaboration between the private sector and the police. She explains how they will share knowledge, experience, and resources at a national level to understand better what businesses need and what issues they are experiencing, including the ongoing development of a first-class talent pool to tackle the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks.

The discussion touches on the need to raise awareness so that cyber security becomes part of everyday conversation and the desire to instil a greater level of confidence to question and address suspicious activity.


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