IT reseller Highgate IT Solutions operates a 100% remote model, and moved to a four-day week last year.
To kick off this regular IT Solutions Provider of the Month series, IT Channel Oxygen catches up with Highgate’s Head of Alliances & Operations, Jenny Latimer (pictured above, furthest left on top row), to find out more about how this geo-dispersed company operates.
Hi Jenny. Highgate has been a 100% remote, work-anywhere organisation since your inception in 2010. Does it take a certain type of person to fit in?
Rather than us looking for a ‘certain type of person’, I would say we attract individuals that are looking for a ‘certain type of organisation’. These are people that are perhaps at a point in their lives where they see working remotely as a value-add, rather than a compromise. We are proud to have a diverse workforce and therefore confident this way of working is appealing to many.
You recently made your trial move to a 4-day week permanent. How much of a differentiator is this for you, and have you seen other IT solutions providers follow suit?
As far as I am aware, we are still the only organisation in the channel to have made this change! Our motivator for this was the wellbeing of our employees and during the trial, we had a team of external psychologists monitor the impact of a 4-day work week to ensure it achieved what we hoped it would. The results were very positive and we made the change permanent. We have been operating a 4-day week for over a year now.
What is the biggest challenge to running a business with a 4-day week?
Our 4-day week model relies on a buddy system. As is normal in most organisations, when an employee takes annual leave, their buddy covers their workload. For us, ‘Buddy A’ covers ‘Buddy B’s’ workload once a week and vice versa – this way we remain operational 5 days a week. The sales team buddy up with one another and so do operations. At the start of our trials, the Operations team was quite small and therefore there was training required to ensure cover – it worked and I thank the Ops team for their dedication at that time.
How many staff do you employ now, and who do you consider as your key vendors?
From August we will have 32 employees. Two years ago, we had 10 employees. Key vendors for us include the usual suspects; Dell, HP inc, Lenovo, Microsoft, Cisco. Plus, some vendors with really great niche or disruptive technology, such as Automox, ThreatX, Drata, Ironscales, Quantum and Deep Instinct.
2023 will have been a successful year for Highgate if…
We hit our revenue and headcount goals. This year was all about growth for us, internal focus and drive, but not losing the core of who we are in the process.
You’re known for pushing boundaries when it comes to employee perks and working practices. Is there anything else you have planned?
This year’s big initiative is our lead generation programme. Often organisations will work with a third-party marketing agency to conduct lead generation activity. We wanted to have a more ‘hands on’ approach so we are bringing this function in-house. This allows us to work with vendors on their initiatives more closely, tailoring and tweaking the campaigns as necessary, massively improving the quality of the leads generated thus demonstrating an improved ROI and end user experience.
Additionally, our lead generation team will be spearheaded out of Inverness, which is where Bob our Sales Director lives. Our hope is to create opportunities for individuals that are starting out in their careers and previously hadn’t had the chance to consider the IT channel as a potential career path.
Besides the employee benefits mentioned above, do you feel that Highgate does anything particularly differently in comparison to your peers?
We are proud to be part of what feels like a new wave of resellers in the channel that are focused on being employee centric. Our employees’ wellbeing and mental health are at the core of everything we do. We are determined to continue building a safe, supportive, working environment, where everyone can be the best version of themselves and find their perfect work/life balance.
Name a peer or competitor you and your fellow directors respect…
Within the channel, it’s got to be Distology. They are committed to working with disruptive vendors that have outstanding technology and therefore we are able to provide our customers with these solutions.
They have a culture that resonates through their entire organisation, making every interaction a positive one.
Plus, they have a real belief in seeing an individual’s potential in the tech industry, rather than fixating on their career experience. Skills are transferable and it is important to recognise that.
Name an industry trend not enough people are talking about…
Mentoring. It is likely that at multiple points in everyone’s careers, there will be a need for some guidance, or a confidence boost, or an outside perspective. Mentoring provides individuals with an impartial, encouraging point of view. I am proud to be part of the Channel Community, a group of like-minded people across the channel that help and support our next generation. It is so rewarding being able to share my experience and knowledge to aid someone in their own career.