Picture yourself back in early February 2020. You most likely had a job that saw you heading to the office Monday to Friday, 9 am - 5 pm. Maybe, if you were lucky enough to be employed by one of the “cool companies”, one of your perks was to have a fixed number of work-from-home days that you could use at your leisure.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and changed everything - including the way we work. And that’s something companies are still evaluating more than 2 years after the outbreak of COVID-19.
The question of "should my company be fully remote, on-site, or hybrid?" is one that many CEOs, founders, and co-founders are wrestling with. That’s why we caught up with the Founder of Hotjar, the Co-Founder & President at Trainerize, the Co-founder of Abacum; and the CEO and Co-founder of TravelPerk to ask them what they thought the future of work would look like - and no two answers were the same.
Tech giants like Apple and Amazon are the trendsetters leading the charge in committing to adopting a hybrid work model. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook
sent out an email to all his employees outlining a hybrid work modelthat will see them return to the office 3 times a week. Amazon, on the other hand, has decided to
leave it up to individual teams to make these decisions.
For the time, being just
16% of all of the world’s companies are fully remote. However, it’s undeniable that this is gaining traction. In fact,
90% of US employeeswho worked from home during the pandemic claim that they were as productive or more working remotely when compared to the office (of course, barring accidental cat face filters on Zoom or dogs barking during a meeting!).
Renowned for its revolutionary remote-first culture, Hotjar's founder David Darmanin believes that the future of work lies with a fully distributed workforce.
Hotjar has operated on a full-time remote work model since before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. For David, this comes down to one simple thing - what you base your company culture on.
According to Hotjar's vision, building a company fully focused on remote teams is also an opportunity for true equality in the company. In a
recent Hotjar blogpost, David explained how with remote workers, the likelihood of company politics based on who sits next to who is completely eliminated.
Sharad Mohan, Co-Founder & President at Trainerize, highlights that Trainerize will strive to strike a balance that offers flexibility while also harnessing the power of in-person human connectedness.
The many benefits of work from home (WFH), like not spending hours in traffic or having time in between meetings to chat with your family or eat a home-cooked meal, are all perks people have recently gotten used to. But things aren't quite so black and white. According to Sharad, there are other considerations to take into account, like the fact that people crave interactions with others, or perhaps whose home is simply too small to spend both day and night at.
Trainerize was a remote-friendly organization even before COVID-19, however, Sharad believes that even that needs to evolve to suit our changing needs. More specifically, he thinks that office spaces will shift away from the traditional assigned desk concept and more towards a hot-desking set-up. He's considering introducing quiet spaces for focused work, collaboration spaces for teamwork, and socializing spaces for building relationships.
What's really important for Sharad is implementing a hybrid model across Trainerize that allows employees to maintain connectedness. The main idea here is to foster trust between people and teams. Building trust over only zoom calls can be difficult, especially if you’ve never had an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with the person on the other side of the call. This can be particularly important as teams find themselves in situations where they may need to solve complex problems, or are at odds with one another – a disagreement without the foundation of trust can be tricky to navigate.
Additionally, cross functional in-person interactions can often result in unexpected and highly creative results, and sometimes those moments don’t happen on scheduled calls. With all of that said, Sharad recognizes that in order to achieve this, Trainerize will redefine how they connect - and that no longer means a 5-day a week in-person workday.
A lot of people say that hybrid work is the "best of both worlds", affording employees the opportunity to meet in person when they like and the flexibility to WFH when they need to. Jorge Lluch, Co-Founder of Abacum, very much feels the same way.
At a fast-growing startup like Abacum, Jorge also argues that hiring remote employees also makes the process of scouting talent faster. His Human Resources and People teams can explore from a broader pool of resumes and talented candidates, streamlining this process and making it more efficient.
So, how is Abacum having its cake and eating it too?
Jorge also claims that it's important to make the effort of over-communicating on cultural stories, share them with the company, and have them as live examples. This is one of the best ways for co-workers, no matter where they're working from, to really feel unified and part of the team.
When you talk to TravelPerk's Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Avi Meir, it's pretty clear that he doesn't believe in living in the Metaverse. That’s why TravelPerk is first and foremost an “in real life” company. But that doesn’t necessarily mean going back to an established office or workspace 5-days a week. It’s about finding the right balance between coming together to meet people face-to-face and having the flexibility to adapt to your personal circumstances.
And the team at TravelPerk is taking this seriously, even integrating it into the new mission statement - to connect people in real life in an enjoyable and sustainable way. This is part of the company culture, and part of who TravelPerkers are and always will be.
That being said, Avi and the rest of the company’s leadership team acknowledge and appreciate that flexibility is an important element of work-life in a post-pandemic world. They recognize that not every task requires interaction with other people, and that’s why they are giving employees the freedom to decide where they physically want to be when working on focused, non-interaction-based tasks.
Whatever you decide, it’s clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for every company. And if you’re only going to skim through this article and read one thing, let it be these top 8 tips we collected from our 4 Founders and CEOs:
- Treat people like owners and ask them what they think and want. Find out what lifestyle they’re hoping for and what values they believe in.
- Understand what role you can play as an employer in making your employees' lives better. Find ways to inject energy into their work lives through an environment that allows them to do their best work.
- Forget about classifications like “in-house”, “full-time”, “freelancer” etc. Remember that everyone is part of a team working towards the same goal and make them feel included - no matter where they’re working from.
- Remember that the way you work is a key part of your growth strategy. Use this as a tool to build the kind of company you want to have in the future.
- Be flexible. If a policy you’ve implemented isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. Adapt to the times.
- Clearly define the bottom line of your company culture, and work backward from there in shaping your work policy. Stay true to who you are.
- Think outside the box - you don’t have to adhere to one classification within your work model! Rethink the meaning of an office, for example, as a destination employees want to go to, rather than a place they’re obliged to go. Now is the time for creativity!
- Be OK with ambiguity for a while. There are growing pains with every type of change, and the best thing you can do here is to stick to your values throughout the process.