Remote Working at Southern Housing

The Challenge

Southern Housing are one of Southern England’s largest housing associations, they provide more than 27,000 homes for over 72,000 people.  They’ve always had teams on the ground, but in 2018 they took the deliberate decision to enable and transfer their client-facing teams into fully fledged remote workers.

The solution

The initiative involved took on two major elements, a tech ‘dig digital initial working’ hardware update and a management and ‘in-tacked’ team development programme.  With their domain expertise in this area, iManage was invited to join the Southern team in designing and delivering this solution.

iManage paired up with Professor Petros Chamakiotis from Sussex University, one of the UK’s leading researchers in remote and digital working to bring leading-edge insight to the practical workshops that were delivered.  All managers of the new remote teams underwent training together on the ‘managing and supporting remote teams’ element.  These sessions looked at:

  • Remote ground rules.
  • Launching a virtual team project/collaboration.
  • e-leadership styles for a remote environment.
  • Arm’s length motivation – how does that work?
  • Leadership coordination.
  • Management communication – establishing a new order.
  • Remote communication priorities.
  • Using quad reporting.
  • The issue of isolation.
  • Avoiding conflict.
  • Supporting staff wellbeing.
  • Development of management team ground rules for remote working.

Separate events were then held for these managers with their teams.  Each team were brought together to look at how they would maintain the team’s cohesiveness and ensure that they continue to deliver effectively.

These sessions covered:

  • Engendering trust when geographically dispersed.
  • Managing your own motivation.
  • Distractions boundaries and work-life balance.
  • Team Communication in an agile environment.
  • Communication planning – managing my brand.
  • Coping with the workload.


The result

This highly successful programme also offered virtual classroom follow-up and best-in-class video learning options as ongoing remote team development solutions.

Debbie Horgan the L&D lead for this project said “The solution provided support to the organisation as it faces the current challenges of moving to agile working.  It helped us to align best practices and behaviours across the entire remote population.”

The programme also reduced feelings of isolation and the possibility of a negative undercurrent, ensuring that team members were supported to cope with the stresses of the day.  It also increased management proactiveness in getting teams together for physical reviews and team updates and aligned management behaviours to ensure increased consistency for teams.

iManage’s Bob Bannister said “This was an excellent programme, especially due to the excellent engagement of the client throughout.  They were not interested in lip-service learning, but instead, in making a difference by supporting their remote and digital workers.  The programme is about to enter into a second phase of learning intervention designed to continue the support for these remote working teams.