James Jefferies and ShedCode Ltd

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Tech Companies - Accelerate Your Employees

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Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility is a huge field in modern times. Businesses vary in their response to the challenge of responsibility, from box ticking a checklist, to doubling up charitable donations, to actively encouraging employees to be involved in Charitable works.

My old company, Technophobia ran a FedEx day, where one of the challenges was for a team to rebuild a website for a charity, which they did. You can read all about it, good for them!

This year though, I’ve been thinking more about how companies could donate their employees and employee time to make a difference in more unusual ways.

Technologist in Residence

Having had the privilege of being a Technologist in Residence at the Site Gallery earlier this year, I was able to see first hand what a difference a problem solving techie can make in a relatively small art’s organisation. With a Research and Development remit, as well as helping with some of the day-to-day tasks, a techie can enjoy the excitment of trying new things, whilst also being able to fix problems without the usual gubbins of working for a large corporation.

Of course, many arts organisations have a resident techie, but usually they have to spin many plates, from producing exhibitions, to maintaining the website, leaving little room for them to catch up with some of the more strategic things which need doing.

There is limited funding to run Happenstance style residencies, and this is where local businesses could make a difference. By adopting a local arts organisation, getting involved, running events and allowing staff to spend a week once a year, then a day a month for the rest of the time, for example, the benefits would be felt by all.

Who gains?

  • The arts organisation - they gain some help in fixing some things, as well as being inspired with new and interesting technology. Building relationships with the local tech community
  • The techies - they can hopefully have time to do experiments, R&D, as well as doing some of the stuff which needs doing. From tidying networks, configuring firewalls, mending printers, redesigning websites, helping with copy… you get the picture!
  • The company - they help the local community, building relationships with organisations around and about, increasing their reach and network. Their employees are more inspired and excited about new things.

Who pays in these difficult times

It would be completely understandable for tech companies to claim that they cannot afford to let their billable employees take time out of their billing cycle to do ‘good’. Understandable, but short sighted. It’s the same argument about sending employees on courses, or to conferences - “where is the business benefit?”.

Well, I believe that good, motivated employees are expensive to recruit and maintain, why risk them getting demotivated, bored and unhappy, when by giving them time to innovate and collaborate, they grow! So the risk is far greater, that you lose good people by not giving them the room to grow. Best to pay out of a sense of innovation and employee investment, than to pay the price for losing them, either by them leaving or by turning them in to faceless, billable resources.