As a return to offices has become possible in many parts of the world, businesses are facing a decision on how to approach the future of work. Whilst some companies have returned to the office on a full-time basis and others are still working from home, many have gone for a hybrid work model.
At Digital Detox, we are doing our best to provide true flexibility for our team members to determine their work environment which allows them to deliver the best results. We are embracing the challenges and potential in creating a better way to work that allows our talent the flexibility to thrive, not only as employees but as people.
And for us, that means adopting a hybrid, remote-first approach to work. We caught up with our Head of People and Culture, Marisa Wheatley, to find out more about this decision and what difference it has already made.
The future of work at Digital Detox
Even before the coronavirus pandemic struck it was clear that a shift was taking place. This meant that the future of work was no longer going to involve everyone coming into the office five days a week.
We’re always open to exploring ways of working that will have a positive impact on our teams’ mental and physical health and wellbeing. We will always take a proactive approach towards trying to accommodate flexible working requests and the situation brought about by the Coronavirus outbreak has only fast-tracked an approach to work that we were considering implementing anyway.
As a technology-led business, DD is well-positioned to support a remote working approach. We have all the necessary tools and resources in place but more importantly, we have a culture and leadership that embraces remote working. We do, however, also see the value and benefits of face-to-face interactions and the importance of maintaining the strong sense of team cohesion, collaboration and fun that makes DD a special place to work.
That’s why the future of work for DD is going to be a hybrid, remote-first model that allows the team to benefit from the flexibility of working from home but also build and maintain the strong relationships that come from working together in a shared space.
Lessons learned from the past year
A remote working model seems to suit DD and the team have definitely taken well to remote working. We’ve been very lucky over the past 18 months as we’ve seen our business and team grow. This has been great for team morale during a turbulent period, but it has also brought some challenges that we may not have faced if we were still working in an office environment.
It is all about our strong culture and autonomous team that have helped support the company through uncertain times. We look after each other and our wellbeing at all times to ensure our team feels connected, supported and trusted!
We’ve also learned that the concept of wellness has no limit, so we wanted our team to have the freedom to choose what brings them wellness without any judgement. That’s why we decided to swap our current team perks with a new, flexible benefits package that would suit every team member and a post-Covid world.
Our processes for bringing new people into the team in a remote way haven’t changed, we’ve simply had to work a bit harder to do the things that introduce our new starters to our company culture and make them feel welcome.
Why did we decide to go for a hybrid way of working?
At DD, we pride ourselves on putting our people first; it’s reflected in our three pillars - people, planet, technology.
We have always been willing to look at offering benefits to our team that we believe will have a positive impact on their mental and physical health and wellbeing. For this reason, it made sense for us to move to a hybrid way of working - it was what our team wanted.
When considering what the future of work would look like for our business, it was important that the views and voices of our employees were considered in our decision-making process and we used a variety of methods to do this. Team members were asked for their views through surveys and we used the regular one-to-one sessions we conduct with all our employees as a check-in point.
The transition to a hybrid work environment
Over the past months, we’ve taken a staged approach to our remote working model, at all times following the guidance set out by the government.
We’re now looking at a hybrid remote-first approach where our default is working from home but our employees are encouraged to come into the office as often as they feel comfortable. Some might come in every day whilst others might do it less often, which works better for them and we’re supportive of that!
P.S. Breakfast on Wednesdays is a good incentive for people to come to the office!
We’ve always had a culture of embracing new productivity tools and we’ve got a good infrastructure in place to ensure hybrid working runs well. We’ve relied heavily on communications and productivity tools like Zoom and Google Meet as well as Slack and Trello to share knowledge and keep communication open and flowing.
However, a smooth transition to hybrid working is more about our culture and approach than the tools we use. We’ve always prided ourselves on regular, open communication and we’ll continue to do that through our weekly team meetings and quarterly updates, sometimes in person where possible.
What is the team feedback so far?
The team’s response to our move to remote-first hybrid working has been resoundingly positive! It has allowed a number of our employees to move away from London to locations that better suit their lifestyle and personal aspirations.
Some team members have used the opportunity of being home-based more often to take up new activities or welcome new pets into their homes. We’re incredibly proud that we’ve been able to afford our people the opportunities to make these positive changes in their lives!
We love getting feedback from our team on how our initiatives and processes are impacting them, whether it’s positive or constructive. We use our survey tool, Officevibe, to do this regularly.
When recently asked “What’s one thing your organisation does well to support your work-life balance?” responses such as “Freedom to work from home and general messaging about WFH and expectations” demonstrate our willingness to embrace a hybrid model that resonates well with our team.
We will continue listening to our people to ensure that this new hybrid model works for both in-person and remote working. It’s something new to us so we don’t expect to get everything right immediately. But we already know that the old way of working it’s not suitable for the future. And we’re committed to working better. If you’re on the same journey as us, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.