It’s wrong to limit anyone’s right to choose how and where they work, according to Highgate IT Solutions Sales Director Bob Sahota, who calls for the widespread adoption of a more generous work-life balance.
Highgate IT Solutions kicked off the trial of a four-day working week during the business quarter starting 1st April 2022. The London-based company has adopted the 100:80:100 model which means it will commit to 100 per cent pay for 80 per cent of the time in return for 100 per cent productivity. “I strongly believe that a four-day week that consists of 28 hours will improve all of our lives,” said Sahota. “If I could transform any area of the ICT industry it would be the way we work, specifically how we balance our work and life. We implemented a four-day week so our employees can get some of their time back to do things that are important to them in their lives. I often tell our employees and even candidates that work is not the most important aspect of life, it is just a part of it and can contribute to the life that we want to live.
“I see and talk to people across many industries who are stressed, anxious and depressed and quite often it is their work and their employers that contribute to this state. Life can be short and our time is precious. I would love to see our industry, and beyond, start taking better care of themselves, prioritising employee wellbeing and mental health, to give everyone a chance to live their best life.”
Sahota believes that Highgate’s people-first approach goes a long way to meet one the business world’s new challenges – the post-pandemic era of demand for remote working where possible. “Remote and hybrid working is everywhere now and employees want the flexibility to work from anywhere, not just the office,” said Sahota. “They also want flexibility in how their working day looks. But there is some nervousness across the channel in allowing this to happen. I hear lots of arguments from employers in favour of working from an office quoting water cooler moments, collaborative working, the buzz of an office and lots more. But often that is based on what they want as employers, not necessarily what their employees want. Ultimately, business leaders have an opportunity to be open-minded, listen to their employees and shape a workplace fit for the future.”
With a huge increase in remote and hybrid working, many organisations still do not have a fit for purpose telephony or UC solution, so Highgate is having many conversations in this space. “Another area of interest is resources,” added Sahota. “Our clients tell us that they often find themselves under-resourced or lacking the technical skills to deliver a project within their ideal timeframe, so we are seeing a lot of traction in providing expert resources for specific projects.”
According to Sahota, Highgate deploys a ‘simple’ three pronged growth strategy, not built on revenue, profit, calls or any other KPI or metric. Nor is it reliant on a particular technology, vendor, partner, solution or service. “First, it is to continue bringing people into the organisation who demonstrate the same stoic character traits that we hold so dear, and who share the same values and ethics as us,” explained Sahota. “Secondly, we continue building meaningful relationships with our clients, vendors and partners. And thirdly, for us to keep finding ways to improve the lives of our employees and help them to become the best version of themselves. If we focus on this three-way strategy the rest will take care of itself.”
It’s a policy that has served the company well since it began its commercial life in 2010, established by Stuart Marginson. He worked in the IT channel as an account manager but felt things could be done differently and better – particularly around working from anywhere rather than being tied to a desk in a fixed location, and valuing employees as people, not just numbers. From these two core principles Highgate was born, and people who saw the value of working in this way reached out to Marginson to become part of the organisation. “For them, working for a 100 per cent remote organisation added immense value,” said Sahota. “They also wanted to work somewhere they felt valued and respected. This was where Highgate’s organic growth came from and to this day we continue to work by these principles and recruit in the same way.”
Life can be short and time is precious. I would love to see our industry, and beyond, start taking better care of themselves, prioritising employee wellbeing and mental health, to give everyone a chance to live their best life
To help build his business Marginson contacted Sahota in early 2021. They have been close friends for the best part of 20 years. The company was in its 11th year of trading, had 10 people in sales and turned over £10 million the previous year. Marginson wanted to know if Sahota would be interested in working with him to get the firm to the next level, well aware of his career history and matching workplace cultural ethos. As a 16-year-old selling door-to-door in a 100 per cent commission-only role, Sahota got his first glimpse of what a life in sales could entail – hard work and high reward. He was first exposed to the IT channel after an open day held by Simply Computers. That was 21 years ago, and he went on to hold various leadership and management roles.
“Immediately there was synergy between us,” said Sahota. “We shared identical values and ethics, the vision and ambition excited me and the opportunity to continue building a business that did things the right way was perfect for me at that stage of my life and career. We started by formalising our company principles, by asking ourselves who we are now, what we want to be, and most importantly, why we are doing it. Once we had a strong enough ‘why’, we then moved onto the ‘how’.”
By the end of June 2022 Highgate’s employee headcount will reach 21, more than doubling in less than a year. The business achieved £11 million in 2021 and projected revenue for 2022 is £15 million. It has over 1,500 active clients split evenly between private and public sector. “In the private sector our sweet spot is broad, 250 to 2,000-plus users across finance, manufacturing, media, legal, insurance, gaming and construction,” said Sahota. “Most of our public sector activity is within education where safeguarding children remains a number one priority. Schools are leaning on us, asking us how to create or strengthen their digital safeguarding strategy. We provide their staff, students, governors and parents with safeguarding advice, guidance and consultancy in addition to the technology, so they can have a complete solution.”
Despite the breadth of its services Highgate keeps everything simple, being mindful not to overcomplicate matters. “We listen to what is happening in the wider market so we can easily identify current trends and move with them,” he added. “If we can deeply understand what is important to our clients, what they are struggling with, what their pain points are, what keeps them up at night, then we can start to understand what type of partner we need to be for them.”