We held an intimate gathering of decision makers in remote-first, or remote only tech companies.
The key questions we started with:
The main challenge is to build a personalized team experience that accommodates the diversity associated with remote working and team/role specifics. The choice of hybrid/remote first model is not seen in the same way even by a rather homogenous group of professionals working for tech companies. When designing new working models, one needs to take into account both the eagerness to continue with remote working (from which there is no turning back), and on the second end of the equation, the unique value resulting from teamwork:creativity & energy created best in the face to face, office environment. On top of that, we need to acknowledge that even some tech jobs still need to be done in the office due to the logistics of things, e.g. for gamedev ICs working on 3D models that need to be filmed with actors playing in the studio, the presence in the office is obligatory. Hence, one-size-fits-all solutions do not fit all the teams the same way. At the same time, when creating fair (and fair is not equal), individualized solutions we need to intentionally design for mitigation of some unintended discriminatory practices such as potential proximity bias/favouritism to those working from the same office.
Usually tech orgs start by using the so called active listening measures such as surveys distributed equally & regularly to all the team members, so their opinions can be heard and acted upon, focus or consultation groups.
There are also more novel approaches to collecting employee sentiment in an active way. An interesting active listening initiative was shared by one of the guests as a new successful way of engaging team members: an advisory/sounding board body consisting of trusted team members was created, whose main purpose is an ongoing dialogue between the leadership and the representatives of employees.They are additionally supported by agile coaches and HRBPs working very close to the teams, and serving as barometers of moods.
We, as Network Perspective have shared our knowledge on how to use a complementary listening method, the so called passive listening i.e. collecting and analyzing meta-data from company comms & collaboration systems (e.g. G-suite, Slack, Jira) ethically and through that enriching the feedback for teams with the objective metrics that give insights on the key dimensions (as illustrated in the slide below):
When we think about collaboration analytics, it’s of course critically important to protect the privacy of individuals and run team-level analytics (averages for the team or % of people from the team) only.
Tech orgs focus on how to retain the best employees and keep the so-called ‘talent density’ high, as the gap between the increasing demand for employees in tech and the number of people entering the market is growing. At the same time, today's newbies are largely a generation of digital natives, for whom autonomy, a sense of influence and flexibility at work are key.
Listening to people (in a proactive way via surveys, or during individual 1on1s, or town halls) and responding to their needs are and will remain key employee experience practices. Still, using only employee feedback means that we tailor the actions toto the symptoms people are feeling and talking about, and not always to their real root causes. Very often, employees are not able to name the specific root causes of their workload, burnout, low engagement or suboptimal development.,
By using meta-data from company comms & collaboration systems (e.g. G-suite, Slack, Jira), this view can be uncovered by giving the answers to the questions like:
One of the ideas, mentioned here in the context of improving the quality of and promoting the value of deep work, is virtual coworking popularized by Remote How, and already used by some companies. The idea is to organize online spaces that bring individuals to work virtually ‘side by side’with the primary aim of improving real commitment to non distracted deep work and individual efficiency.
Research shows that hybridization boosted productivity, but innovation has deteriorated significantly. Remote and hybrid teams tend to silo more, as the cross-team ‘bridging’ interactions need to be much more intentional. Tech companies are observing that trend, and it is extremely hard & important for them to help continue to build social capital and innovation via cross team collaboration.
Cross-team collaboration and building bridging connections between teams is not an easy topic to be measured and understood through surveys or individual interviews. Leveraging meta-data from company comms & collaboration systems (e.g. G-suite, Slack, Jira)can give a team a new lense on those challenges through an instant feedback on:
The second part of our discussion was focused on the operational, tactical and strategic impact you can observe once tech teams’ evolve their work patterns based on passive listening insights on their current work habits. Here are some examples.
Once putting the data about work & collaboration patterns in the hands of people leaders & teams, they get a full, more objective and continuous overview of the work habits and experience rooted by them.
We strongly believe that leveraging and better understanding of data is the key to improving the future workplace in an impactful way and effectively selecting initiatives not for symptoms, but for root causes.
The session was led by world class experts who have successfully built/led/advised/trained distributed teams before 2020 for companies such as GitLab, Hubspot, Netguru, Walmart, ING Bank, and many more.