Looking back over the two and a half years since we introduced Work from Anywhere (WFA) at Spotify, it’s no secret that we’ve made some bold bets regarding how and where we work. As is commonplace at Spotify – we’ve iterated on our approach along the way by always listening to Spotifiers, making sure our reflections are data-informed and keeping our ears to the ground when it comes to external research. As a result we’re able to navigate this unexplored territory, and make sure we stay true to our culture, to the benefit of Spotifers and our business alike.
We still strongly believe that work is not a place you go; it’s something you do. We trust that when presented with a choice of where to work, Spotifiers understand that there is a responsibility to actively engage in being impactful. As a result, we in HR can support better work-life balance, which helps us to retain our existing, talented band members. We’re satisfied that we’re still on the right track for Spotify. Therefore, we do not believe in mandating everyone back to an office. Instead, we continue to embrace flexibility whilst simultaneously reviewing and shifting some of the focal points of our WFA program.
Experiences Are Different
We know that we need to create a great office vibe and culture, regardless of who is and isn’t there. We’ve become more clear in our communications and expectations that when choosing a Home Mix, there’s an understanding that it will be a different experience from an Office Mix – and that’s okay.
One particular aspect of this is with in-office events, such as our listening lounges (where we are lucky enough to enjoy artist sessions in our workplace). We enjoy bringing Spotifiers together, onsite, and we offer online events to all Spotifiers. However, we understand that recreating those live events online is simply a different experience when seen from home. Therefore, we are more selective about which events we can mirror with an online experience, and we are transparent with band-members about what they can expect when choosing to work from home or the office.
When we initiated WFA, we crafted a ‘ways of working’ playbook to frame and encourage the foundational ways that we can work, regardless of role and location. Within that, we defaulted to asynchronous work to reduce the dependency on team members being in the same time zone or physical location. Flexing this async muscle has provided us with valuable insights and experiences. To be specific, asynchronous work is advantageous for numerous reasons: deep focus work, decreased reliance on meetings to get things done, flexibility, to name a few. However, during the last year, we have seen firsthand that working synchronously during our overlapping time zones also has major advantages, including cultivating a sense of belonging, building connections, ease of collaboration, and quicker decision-making.
Therefore, we favour neither asynchronous or synchronous working, and we are now encouraging each individual and team to decide on how they work best, balancing both synchronous and asynchronous work depending on the task at hand, whilst also respecting others’ time and time zones.
One area we have noted that tends to favour synchronous working is when new members join the band. We will therefore start encouraging onboarding in the office, and in particular, we will now designate the ‘Office Mix’ for the first year for junior team members (where it’s a person’s first full-time job) joining the band. We’ve heard and seen that for those brand new to the workplace, it can be easier and faster to receive support and can be more energising and motivating being around other Spotifiers – even if they are not in the immediate team.
For all other new band members, even those with years of experience under their belts, we are aiming to recruit new talent within the same time zone as those with whom they work closest, where possible. This is with the purpose of maximising the window of opportunity for people to sync in real-time.
As a global company, we’ll continue to be distributed, working across time zones, locations and with collaborative teams and business functions. We couldn’t be more thankful to our band members who are part of our company’s evolving culture. We love how they take responsibility for how they show up and how they help each other to be successful. When we all give flexibility to each other, we can all grow and evolve together, building the best version of Spotify that we can. We will continue to ask for feedback and learn, adjust, and support our band members on our WFA program so that it’s relevant to our business, our beliefs, and the entire band.