Over the course of the past year, we’ve all learnt a thing or two about remote working. For some, it’s been a blessing in disguise, reducing lengthy commuting times and boosting productivity. Others have found it harder to adjust, perhaps due to the lack of face-to-face contact and the presence of competing priorities at home. What’s become apparent for many companies though, is that there are others ways of doing things – and remote working certainly reduces overheads. While we don’t know yet what the post-Coronavirus “new normal” is going to be, it’s looking increasingly likely that it will be a hybrid model, combining remote and on-site working in an effort to boost productivity while lowering costs.
At BiD Masters, even before the pandemic, we were looking to the latest developments in technology to see any harbingers of change. And there were plenty there. We’ve all seen the Zoom boom and there is a plethora of software packages on the market to aid collaboration. Throw in innovative virtual work spaces like Virbela and a physical bid room may soon be a thing of the past. This is beyond the conceptual stage, as BiD Masters worked with JGA recently to roll this out for the final three-day module of Bid and Proposal Coordinator apprenticeship.
Naturally, there are pros and cons to preparing a bid remotely. Here are four things to consider to when preparing a bid remotely.
As we’ve touched on, technology is an important component of remote working and there are plenty of options to choose from. There are tools and apps that assist with collaborative workflow management, time management, document sharing, project management, meeting scheduling and more. If you’ve ever thought “It would be really useful to have a way of doing…”, it’s likely someone else has thought the same thing and created it.
The problem isn’t the tools. It’s deciding which ones to use and what processes and disciplines to implement. Of course, there are security and compliance aspects, which in some industries will dictate the tools available. Whatever tools you use, though, it’s important to remember what they’re for: to enable work. If your virtual team struggles to use a tool effectively, it may not be the right one – and every team is different. Recognising you may need to adjust the technology balance to take into account the individuals in your team will lead to greater productivity across the board.
At BiD Masters, for example, we created a tailorable bid toolkit to align with our REWARD® methodology, initially for internal management, but we now share it with clients.
Ah meetings. Remember those days when all of the team members, from bid support to SMEs, authors and senior managers, packed themselves into a too-small conference room every morning to check the bid status?
There’s evidence to suggest that video collaboration tools are making meetings more effective. According to research from Lifesize, 76% of people have used video collaboration to work remotely and 90% of those same employees said video conferencing makes it easier to get their point across; the same number said video conferences reduce the time needed to complete projects or tasks.
There’s an important point here: unless it’s a quick catch up, video conferencing is more effective than voice-only dialling in. Seeing people’s faces helps meeting participants read and relate to each other and ensures everyone is engaged, even if it means you may need to keep your home office tidy.
With a virtual team, you have access to global teams. Geography is no longer a restriction. You might have to navigate a few time zones for those virtual meetings, but there can be advantages to working across time zones, too, that go beyond sourcing the best talent.
At BiD Masters, we’ve been involved in a number of bids for international clients where we’ve seen the advantages different time zones bring, primarily in extending the working hours available each day. It’s like shift working, where Team 1 (say, your SMEs and authors) works usual hours and then geographically distant Team 2 (perhaps your bid writers, formatters or proofreaders) takes over, delivering their contribution back to Team 1 in time for their working day to start. This can bring in efficiencies all round.
Even if your team is not global, flexible working patterns that fit around employees’ home lives can boost productivity and deliver efficiencies.
Scalability is one of its strengths of virtual teams. In an office, increasing the headcount often requires additional office space, but with a virtual team, the business isn’t limited by square footage. The same is true of a bid team. Expanding an office-based bid team can necessitate a larger bid room or more hot desks in the designated bid area. If the bid team includes outsourced support and the additional resources are required to be on-site, this can slow down onboarding. It can also be a barrier if you need additional support for a short time period. Additional virtual support, on the other hand, can be sourced and integrated quickly into the team – as fast as you can download your team’s preferred apps.
If you’re looking for bid support to join your virtual bid team, contact BiD Masters.