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The Right Balance Of Future Flexible Working Concepts: A Shift To A New Normal

Written by Dustin Figge and Linda Henke.

This month marks another special milestone to shape the future of “new ways of working“ at Homelike and beyond.

 

When COVID-19 hit Europe and our business mid-March, we decided (along with many other companies) to move everyone to home office to protect employees’ health and safety. Being entirely digitally set up as a company allowed a very smooth transition and we are amazed by how our employees have been managing the new remote set-up with all its pros and cons. Working from home became an extremely important asset for us during the COVID-19 crisis to continue business operations while keeping employees safe at home.

 

What we have found and continually see is that productivity is going up, as employees are enjoying a higher degree of flexibility, less distraction, and greater focus. Employees came up with new ways of (digital) social interaction e.g. digital coffee breaks and lunches, but I think everyone also realized that personal and physical social interaction can not be replaced completely. We believe that being together in one central location actually creates an inspiring and motivating working culture and environment: A quick chat at the coffee machine, team lunches, building relationships, catching-up over a beer after our all-hands meetings, onsite workshops, or just a creative brainstorming session.

 

As of June we gradually let some of our teams back into our HQ and also allow individuals or teams to spend a day or two in the office under strict health and hygiene guidelines, of course.

macbook pro beside green plant on table

Rethink Work Setup

COVID has forced everyone (not only businesses) to make short-term and fast decisions due to the unpredicted development of a worldwide pandemic. However, we believe some changes will last longer than COVID and might be the starting point of a transformation of the future world of work and more flexible working conditions will play a fundamental role.

 

We know, based on the learnings we have made in the last six months, that remote work has its advantages – i.e. no commute, more time to focus, and a higher level of productivity.

 

We have been discussing the future working set up at Homelike a lot internally but also reached out to our start-up network and other companies including the ones that had a remote set-up before COVID. Unsurprisingly, more flexible working concepts are a widely discussed topic at the moment and it comes in various forms: fully flexible, fully remote, hybrid, home office days (dedicated or flexible), individual teams in the offices, and many more. How difficult it is to find the right balance also showed an internal survey we did among our employees in early August 2020: 41% said they would prefer fully remote going forward, 16% would prefer going back to the office and 43% would like a hybrid solution of office/home office.

person holding black android smartphone

New Ways Of Flexible Working At Homelike

To come up with the right set-up every company needs to find its own (right) balance based on various aspects. In order to find the right balance for Homelike we asked ourselves the following questions (among many many more):

  • How can we rethink our workplace in a more flexible way making sure employees feel valued and supported?
  • Does every team (or team member) need to be in the office (fully or partially) and what would be the benefit in this regard?
  • Do we want to apply a one-size-fits-all solution for the entire company or make differences between teams considering their different structures?
  • Homelike is a people-company built on personal relationships. How can we still ensure frequent personal interaction?
    How do we structure our employee benefits in the new set up as most incentives are onsite and office related (drinks, gym, job tickets, etc.)?
  • How do we want to structure onboarding for new hires in a remote-first culture? Getting to know the colleagues in person helps to build personal trust relationships.
  • How to ensure a good communication style in virtual meetings and ensure the highest degree of data protection?
  • ….

This week we introduced our new flexible working concept at Homelike, combining the advantages of both concepts (office vs. remote). We are extremely excited to launch this new way of working at Homelike:

 

  • Most of the teams will be working 100% remotely whilst giving the option and encouraging them to meet in the office occasionally.
  • We built a “hot desk” area in our HQ, which can be booked to work from the office if needed or wanted. For international offices, we grant a monthly “hot desk”-budget.
  • A smaller part of the organization with more administrative and operational focus will remain in offices but being allowed to work remotely for at least 1 day per week. (This also might increase in the future)
  • For all onsite-teams, we put high hygiene measures and contact restrictions in place (desk distance of 1.5m, face masks, etc.) to protect our employee’s health and safety.
  • If possible, the general Onboarding of new hires will still be done physically in the office and team members will join and welcome the new starter in the office. This way we can welcome a new team member in person.
  • We handed-out “Flexible working” guidelines to all employees introducing data protection measurements and safety regulations.
  • We’ve created a “code of conduct for flexible working” to keep an inspiring and productive work environment and ensure that everyone is treated with respect and tolerance.

 

We know that this is just a starting point! Going forward we want to see and assess if this concept works for us as an organization and in which way we might need to iterate and adapt.

 

Greetings from the home office,
Dustin

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