How many companies decide to be “remote” from the very beginning, and how many it results from the company’s development path? Surely you’ve wondered about it once – we’ve decided to check it out too. Some built their organizations with the idea of creating a place where they would like to work themselves. Such an example is, for example, Netguru – one of the fastest growing players on the Polish IT market. They are also a vivid example of the fact that it is possible to create a company operating 100% remotely from scratch. And it is a company that is extremely successful. But is this the only way?
Hybrid model of work in our company
Our activity has gone a completely different way to create an efficient remote organization. As the needs were analyzed, we decided to introduce a hybrid model of work in Talent Place. Why? We were looking for the right balance between being flexible while delivering quality services. We wanted to create a team of recruiters all over Poland to have access to a variety of experts who know almost every local market and almost every industry. Having all this knowledge would make our customers happy. They would get exactly what they need. We wanted to be able to dedicate them to a Recruiter’s Talent who knows both the industry and the local market as soon as they have a recruitment need.
Of course – one of the solutions considered was to create many Talent Place branches all over Poland. However, 5 years ago we thought about a global range. This raised the bar much higher. There was an idea – Talent Place branches all over the world. It is theoretically feasible, but what is it actually for? Why create offices around the world when we can collaborate remotely? This is how hybrid work at Talent Place began.
Today Talent Place has two stationary offices – in Krakow and Warsaw. Members of individual teams come to each of them every day. It is only 10% of the entire Talent Place community. Other people work with us remotely from different parts of Poland, as well as from different parts of the world. Today, hybrid work turns out to be the best solution we could decide on. We have adapted all processes to the remote work mode, at the same time giving the possibility of working in the office to anyone who prefers this style of work. But was it all working so well from the beginning?
We made many mistakes when building the hybrid company. We had to do many things ourselves. 5 years ago, hardly anyone talked about hybrid or remote work. Not only that – just a year ago, a lot of companies thought it was almost impossible! This means more or less that we wiped the dishes ourselves for effective remote management.
So what mistakes did we make? What do we know today that we certainly didn’t know when we started? Today I am going to share with you three mistakes we made – although of course there were many more.
First: Beware of exclusion!
When working hybrid, it’s very easy to fall into the “us and them” trap. If the teams work permanently from the office or permanently work remotely, the division into two camps is automatically formed. It is a completely natural phenomenon – it results, for example, from a space that is characteristic and at the same time different for both these communities.
So what happened? Two groups have formed in the company: “those from the office” and “those remotely”. Both groups had different rules and culture of operation. The division was felt everywhere – even at the level of language and inter-team communication. Satisfaction surveys also showed this. Employees reported that they did not feel united. Sometimes it even happened that when creating a meeting in the office, the organizer forgot to invite a person working remotely. Sounds absurd? Yes. But believe me, this is not the only time this has happened.
So what did we focus on to change this situation? One of the activities that we have implemented are Business Sessions meetings conducted by employees for other employees who are interested in the selected topic. Meetings are held at least once a quarter, are conducted remotely and, most importantly, they are not meetings related to current tasks at work. We talk about what interests us after work or is in some way developing for us. It is primarily an opportunity to integrate and meet in their teams. Of course, people willing to attend meetings, regardless of their place of work.
The solutions we introduced functioned on many levels. One example of “small” things was joining a channel (on Slack messenger) for things that happen in the office of ALL employees. Despite the fact that the matters discussed there are often trivial and do not concern people who always work remotely, they wanted to be there. I remember during a feedback conversation I heard from one employee: “Even though I’m not in the office, when I see what is happening there, how it looks today, I feel part of both the company and the team”. So even such small improvements made a big difference.
Second: Make use of technology!
The problem related to technology appeared when we focused on building unity in the organization. One of the elements of this process was the proper use of technology. A potentially simple task, but we weren’t experts at the beginning.
When I talk about technology, I mean, for example, adapting laptops used by stationary workers to be equipped with a quality camera and microphone. Why? When at least part of the team works remotely, stationary employees must work on reliable equipment, especially computers that enable good video connections. We have already written about why video during the conversation is important.
Technology also meant finding the right video communication tool to hold high-quality teleconferences for both 5 and 80 people. Zoom turned out to be an ideal solution, as it meets our needs 100%.
In addition, the change also concerned the equipment of conference rooms with audiovisual equipment that would perfectly collect voice from a room where up to 15 people could meet and broadcast video. There is nothing worse for people joining a remote meeting, who only hear their interlocutors and cannot see their facial expressions or gestures.
Third. Communication and access to information
Everyone knows that communication is important in the company. In a remote or hybrid company, however, it takes on a double meaning. Communication is not only about providing relevant information, but also a form of influencing the commitment, satisfaction and motivation of employees.
I remember repeatedly convincing ourselves that employees do not use a given tool or do not engage in certain areas in the company. When we started to investigate the causes of this phenomenon, it turned out that the reason was simply a lack of relevant information. However, to become a company that functions as efficiently as today, it was enough to spend time talking with employees. This is the best source of information about it, worth improving.
Every quarter we ask our employees what level of their satisfaction and job satisfaction is, and then we implement appropriate changes. In one of the quarters, the NPS (Net Promoter Score) was -4. So on a scale of – 100 to 100, it is not the worst result, but it can definitely be said that it is still very bad. It was the final signal that we still make many mistakes and it is time to roll up our sleeves. From that moment on, we started the path of continuous improvement and changes that continues to this day. As of the day this article was published, our NPS is 69. Has there been any progress then? Significant! However, it still means that we still have a lot of work to do.
What have we learned?
Educate and support
Remember to have adequate support for employees – that special emphasis on managers! They are one of the key elements in a successful transformation towards effective hybrid work. Therefore, make sure to provide your managers with knowledge on how to effectively manage a remote team. How to communicate effectively and how to manage your own time. A manager who does it well himself can convey it to his team. Invest in managers and hybrid work will not be a problem.
Spend time building relationships
You cannot save on this. If you don’t want to lose the team spirit and you want people to be attached to the company they work for – make sure you create space for building relationships. 10 min small talk on the agenda, passion meetings, live meetings … The choice is yours, but you can be sure of one thing – nothing will happen “by the way”. Relationships must be taken care of!
Choose the right people
Remote work is not for everyone – today we know for sure. There are people who simply do not find themselves in this mode of work, because it requires a lot of self-discipline in many areas. Recently I heard an interesting statement – self-discipline is just as important when you need to start work and when you have to finish it!
Hybrid work – summary
In the transformation of remote work teams – both compulsory and voluntary – we still focus the hardest on the wrong issues. It quickly turns out that the barrier is not time zones, access to technology or organizational structure – everything can be adapted to your needs, provided that the right people are behind it. Therefore, not only choose the right people for the tasks, but most of all talk to them and control the flow of information – this will not only improve the functioning of your organization, but also give you the opportunity to better understand the needs of your team. And hence the easy way to determine what type of organization you want to become – fully remote or hybrid.