There are some people who are arguing lately that working from an office is a thing of the past – we’re not sure what data sets they’re using! But it’s also pretty clear that 100% remote working is not totally ‘in’ either.
In all our internal surveys asking Spotifiers what they would prefer, they all state that they still find it important to meet face-to-face. It’s not surprising since we are all experiencing a void of exactly that with not being able to come into the office, and see each other, talk to each other and work with each other in the same building. At the same time, even before the pandemic, any company which, because of its size had to be in a campus, spread across different floors, or in different locations and time zones, already had a distributed workforce. We just did not want to admit or frame it like that.
The pandemic has made us and many other organisations rethink working models and ways of working. Even with our tendency towards autonomy and thinking along the lines of ‘with freedom comes responsibility’, it still meant that most band members came into the office for some face-to-face time every weekday. Now, when we’ve been forced to pressure test having a 100% distributed workforce, we’ve made some new learnings, as well as gotten some confirmation on existing thoughts on what works for both the company and our employees:
- Most of our employees state they’re keen on a hybrid workplace model, where most of their time is spent in the office but they have the flexibility and freedom to work from home when it works best for them e.g. a 3 days at work, 2 days at home and 2 days off model (3,2,2).
- The second group of our people are putting their hand up for working from home – they’d like more time out of the traditional office, using the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere. This sort of working could also be complemented by access to a co-working space.
A different talent pool
The other group of people, which a new distributed working model is likely to appeal to is the independent contract worker (especially in the content profession), even if a freelancer contract is not much of a hybrid. However, it would help us to find a virtual talent pool – one that’s decentralised and global. This is a pool we might never have had the chance to tap into since they don’t see themselves to be employed in the old traditional way. They are, if not digital nomads, at least free spirits that do not want to be part of a community and all the jazz that comes with the safety, security and alignment of a crew working in sync and iterating on one and the same thing at the same time.
We’ve already been working on a reliable 100% digital recruitment process as it became clear to us that on one hand recruitment no longer needs to be tied to the location of the physical workplace, yet on the other, knowledge of a specific market is extremely valuable. It’s a priceless addition to have access to talent from literally anywhere around the globe, without needing to physically relocate the people we hire.
How will we work and live in the post-pandemic chapter?
Those of us exploring the hybrid scenarios or those just willing to challenge the chosen truths, are all pondering how we will work and live in the post-pandemic chapter. Enhanced adoption of distributed working is a given. So much we know. But, what the future of work would entail is still very ambiguous, but one thing’s for sure that it will be hybrid in nature with a combination of people working where it makes most sense to them and office lovers. We know for a fact that we can accomplish most, if not all missions remotely without a drop in our productivity or quality, but we don’t know for how long. Most people appreciate regular interactions with other human beings, they get energised and excited about the concept of being together in the same place when co-creating and achieving.
Even if it might not be an entirely new type of leadership, leading remotely does come with challenges, just as working remotely requires a new type of self discipline for everyone. You have to set your own business hours and make sure you find the right balance between work and personal life. You have to develop after-work habits or even rituals so your new work setup will not impact your mental well-being. You might even have to make it a point to change devices so there is a clear line in the sand when you do work and when you do things to relax – but still on screen. You must make sure to get outside during (self-created) breaks and it’s even more important to plan and take a break during your self managed out of the office working day. Given the pros and cons, we have to rethink our band members’ working arrangements and develop a way of working that works for our people, our business and do so in a sustainable way.
An eye-opener for a lot of the HR industry is how much of this transformation is driven by technology. Flexible work is no longer only for gig-workers or solo-workers. This has been and will continue to be one of the magnets for organisations to attract and retain talent. New hybrid ways of working with a distributed workforce are here. As an HR professional, it’s no longer relevant if you like it or not, or even if you believe in it or not – it’s a mere fact. The win-win we always look for, but seldom find might just be here: the flexibility for the employee mixed with a huge rise in productivity across industries is visceral.
We do not believe digital technology and the opportunity of work mode flexibility should be a substitute for human connection. We will do our utmost to keep social, creative and empathy in shaping our future of work, but leverage technology to enhance, not replace, the connections we have with each other as band members.
It’s time to challenge those chosen truths and embrace the shift for the many, amplifying more options to work from… fill in the blank yourself as well as the work from the office option. Find the way that’s right for your people and for your business.