The pandemic taught a lot of us to appreciate the benefits of working from home.
Productivity skyrocketed in the early months of the giant working-from-home experiment. Despite the obstacles everybody faced. Some companies were quick to announce that Remote Work was here to stay. The potential savings on office space combined with productivity gains was too big of an opportunity for many CFO’s to let go of.
But it was not only companies that benefitted. Some employees explored work-from-anywhere arrangement and took their mobile homes for a long ride around the continent in search for the best surfing spots. Others appreciated more time for hobbies and family at home.
Personally, I enjoyed being more around my kids and the ability to go for a run or walk in nature, whenever I felt like it. This was especially valuable during the dark months here in the Nordics.
But as the pandemic endured well-being of people suffered. Loneliness became a real thing as we kept working in isolation. Especially among young adults. We missed our friends, our colleagues, and our family. Zoom fatigue was also very real – and apparently, it hit women the worst. One leader told me she had counted +30 meetings in just one day. Lastly, collaboration shrunk by 30% or more. Our work networks got smaller. Reaching out to those peripheral but important contacts became harder and harder.
+30 meetings in just one day
Consequently, ‘Hybrid work’ – where you combine work-from-home or work-from-anywhere with the office became the ‘new thing’. There had to be a way to combine the best of office work with the best of the remote work.
Bloomberg reported in March 2021 that as many as 65% of US organizations will pursue a hybrid office model in the future. So many agreed on this!
Then, just a few days ago Google announced that it is heading back to the office! They expect employees to “live within commuting distance” of their offices, and if the employees live too far away they might adjust employees’ salaries based on where they work.” Google also told employees that if they “want to work remotely after Sept. 1, for more than 14 days per year, they’ll have to formally apply for it.”
I have been puzzled by this sudden change in policy from Google. I have been a huge admirer of their Google Aristotle project, where they used a scientific approach to explore what the secret behind a really great team was… But the sudden requirement for ‘presenteeism’ I cannot explain.
The sudden requirement for ‘presenteeism’ I cannot explain
The only answers I can come up with are:
- They need people to be together to innovate
- The hybrid model required too much disciplining of collaboration
- The leaders fear losing control.
Personally, I believe hybrid can solve all three issues stated above and that it has a bright future. Especially, if your organization is built on trust and has sufficient discipline ingrained in its culture. I strongly believe it is the way forward for Innovisor, and I hope for many others. Its wellbeing benefits are too big to ignore.
I would like to share the principles for hybrid work we defined together in Innovisor. Firstly, we agreed there needed to be a value-add in meeting in the office. Then, we listed and prioritized all activities, and came up with four activities we will ALWAYS meet in the office for:
- Complex Problem Solving & Innovation: These two processes benefit tremendously from face-to-face interactions and from working together e.g. in front of a whiteboard or just from playing and having fun together
- Kick-offs & Project Initiations: We meet when we need to create a shared view of the objective, distribute roles and responsibilities and align expectation with each other
- Onboarding of New Employees: New employees must be helped in building a great network. Not only for their daily job tasks. Also, for the more complex ones, where they need to know, who to reach out to for help – and not feel ‘the ask for help’ as a barrier.
- Corporate Identity: When we are in the office, we need to emphasize corporate identity. Prioritize joint breakfast, lunches, and drinks, social activities – and in general pride in working for Innovisor. This might have implications for the office interior and layout.
For everything else, we can stay at home.
There is no need to come to the office if you are just going to be staring at your own screen the entire day!