Scottish start-up Team HOi solving ‘one of the management issues of the decade’

15/01/2024
Louise Barnes (founder of Team HOi) and Andy Todd, Edinburgh-based director of the Alternative Board (TAB).

A FORMER executive’s start-up is helping to solve one of the biggest challenges facing Scottish CEOs.

Louise Barnes, previously a vice-president at global energy research firm Wood Mackenzie, launched Edinburgh-based Team HOi a year ago.

She was thrilled to learn she was on the right track when Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at NatWest Group, flagged to an audience of business leaders at a recent Edinburgh event that their biggest hurdles ‘over the next decade’ would be: digitalisation; climate change and hybrid & remote working.

An online business, Team HOi is helping leadership teams define a new company culture fit for remote and hybrid working employees in the areas of personal support, performance and productivity.

Louise has already secured work with business services, construction and third-sector organisations and is also engaging with energy firms to support their workplace strategies.

Team HOi’s approach focuses on productivity, behaviour and empowerment with Louise’s team including professional coaches in mindset and posture.  

Louise said: “Companies increasingly understand the vital need to revive a collaborative culture within remote teams. This stems from the understanding that nurturing effective communication channels and offering personalised support are essential steps toward enhancing individual performance.

“Successful businesses have got to be agile to thrive, but they must have the right culture to achieve this. They must move with the times. That’s where we come in enabling businesses to discover, define and actively improve essential modern workplace behaviours – wherever they may be based – to help employees contribute to the overall success of the organisation.”

Sean McGrath, CEO at Entrepreneurial Scotland, attributes Team HOi’s weekly staff check-ins to improved communication and significant time savings, equating to £55,000 in costs. This advancement has been pivotal for the organisation’s five-year plan.

He said: “These sessions, facilitated by Louise, allowed for open dialogue, helping messages resonate more effectively with the team and providing insights into internal blockages. We have observed a noticeable improvement in team understanding and alignment with the organisation’s goals.”

Kelly Glass, Head of Saltire Scholar Programme at Entrepreneurial Scotland, said: “Initially the movement and posture elements were met with scepticism with some team members, but they became a normal part of the hybrid and office routine, and colleagues embraced them over time.”

Entrepreneurial Scotland is now on track to meet its goal of 25% year-on-year growth in the Scholars Team and plans to expand Team HOi’s work to other parts of its organisation.

Despite her expertise, Louise recognised she required advice. She joined peer-to-peer business advisory group The Alternative Board (TAB) to help get Team HOi get off the ground.  

With just 2% of institutional investment going to women-led companies in Scotland, Louise was delighted to find a business advisory group which championed her entrepreneurial vision. 

She said: “Joining The Alternative Board (TAB) has been invaluable for me as a start-up owner. It’s not just the financial aspect, but also the personal growth and learning opportunities essential for business success. TAB’s support and network of referrals are crucial. My corporate experience allows me to contribute valuable advice in our monthly meetings, benefiting other businesses and bringing personal satisfaction.”

Louise joined TAB Edinburgh where director Andy Todd hosts monthly peer board meetings for business owners across the region. Each member also benefits from one-to-one time with Andy who has seen a rise in start-up memberships over the past three years.

He said: “TAB combats leadership loneliness by fostering collaboration, aligning with Louise’s mission at Team HOi to modernise work cultures. Her approach, advocating for changes such as flexibility, demonstrates proactive care for employees. This results in healthier, more committed and higher-performing teams.”

Team HOi – the name comes from organisational health on the inside – is one of 1,500 UK TAB companies. Board member revenue growth between 2020 and 2021 averaged an impressive 28%, with 80% reporting their turnover had increased since joining TAB.

TAB is a subscription model where members, who are owners and leaders of private businesses, pay a month-by-month investment.

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