It looks like we shared some thoughts on working from home and isolation yesterday, last March, and then again in June. But it has been a long time since, and 9 months that our offices of GFT Spain remain closed.
The pandemic has revolutionized the way of working: it has changed our lives … but we must adapt because clearly teleworking … is not only the work of the future but the future of work.
Now is the time to look to the future. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the latest vaccine developments are promising. Somehow we will have to come back to the “new normal” and adjust to “those things that have become to stay.” As we are not big fans of these slogans, we named our project “Back to the Future” (hoping that Robert Zemeckis does not hesitate to use the name of his fantastic trilogy). The reason is yes, we will go back, but not to normal or something like that. There has been a breakdown. And whatever we come back to, that will be the future.
If the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we CAN work remotely. We already knew that, but those months were the final test, in case anyone needed a test. Obviously, being able to work from home or not depends on a specific economic model. In our case, we have been working completely from home for 9 months. We must stick to useful and good practices and apply what we have learned in the near future.
So what do we do at GFT Spain? How do we approach this “back to the future” project?
Reconciliation between professional and private life
We started our work from home project, the WFH, as we call it by the acronym of Working form home, before the pandemic and somewhat shy, with 2 days a week and a gradual rollout throughout the organization. .. then the pandemic arrived and… we were able to move the entire company 100% WFH in just 1 day!
But the policy we are developing is obviously not sufficient for the future. Which model of WFH will GFT employees prefer after the physical constraints have been lifted and a vaccine in place?
We did our best. We asked everyone in the 3 offices where we are starting our Back to the Future project. And they answered us. Here are the results:
These results force us to adapt our policies to include very different points of view:
Homework is voluntary (according to Spanish law, but also because there are a small number of people who like the office!). The number of days respondents want to do WFM varies… but on average they want to work from home 3.5 days a week. Respondents say they want to come to the office, preferably to meet the team. Collaborate. Employees will need a good infrastructure for WFH (laptop, keyboard, mouse, headset, collaboration tools, VPN, etc.) Employees will have more expenses at home (chair, home office setup, supplies for the House). But on the other hand, they will also save money (costs and time to travel to the office, expenses for eating out) and improve their work-life balance. The benefits will have to be adapted according to local regulations and above all: common sense. In one post I read that Facebook is looking to pay for housewares based on the cost of the city you live in … implementing something like this makes my head explode. Everything we do should be fair and simple. “We are committed to creating a family culture (which integrates or brings family closer to the workplace): the business, and vice versa, which ensures that the organization, as such, considers the personal and family life of its employees. workers as a positive factor and a member of said organization ”.
New spaces. Facilities. Supplies
According to the previous survey, companies will have more professionals working from home. Or at least our company. So we won’t need the same amount or type of spaces.
The new offices will be places to meet and socialize and will be oriented towards activities, not so much towards “an office to work”. This means we need less office space and more collaboration space. Paradigm shift. Property (my office!) Vs. share your office. In the past, we had the concept of release (free up your parking space if you are not going to use it). We will now have to reserve an office and a parking space on the day we want to go to work at the office. Tools will be needed for this. And there are a lot of them on the market today. Even in the stable situation (when there is a vaccine) after the pandemic, we will slack off less with sanitary behavior and demand more stringent hygiene protocols. Certain items will not be shared: personal lockers will be necessary to store these items (keyboards, mice, headphones, etc.). Distance may be a requirement for office layout. Office cleaning will be more in-depth and more frequent (antivirus). Masks and hand sanitizer gel will be standard office supplies. Hopefully in Europe we will start to behave more like in Asia (if you are cold at home / wear a mask!)
The availability of professional talent has changed dramatically. If you can work from home…. You can work from provinces or regions where companies are not present. It creates a great opportunity and, at the same time, a great threat.
Companies can hire professionals to work “mostly” remotely. This new situation requires updating and adapting contracts and policies. The on-boarding of new employees will be done virtually. We need to redefine the way we deliver assets (securely, guaranteed). The process of incorporation in some cases will be distant: how to make them effective?
As we move towards more distant work, we will need to pay attention to human relationships, which were more apparent and easier when we were physically connected.
Culture and corporate values must be seen differently. Beyond communication … How to make the values of the company “live”? There is something we have already done this year: our annual corporate values awards campaign is now completely virtual. And for the first time, the Ambassadors of Current Values encouraged the entire company to vote for the new Ambassadors in a series of videos. But is it enough? What about the long-term scenario? Team management and collaborative work. As noted in other articles, tools are needed. But how do you use these tools effectively? How do you move to a more “goal-oriented” job? How to effectively manage distributed teams in the new reality? We already have a lot of experience with Office 365, agile teams… but we want to make sure that all the best practices are used by the whole company, including corporate departments. Communication. We have evolved a lot in communication (quarterly live company events, monthly newsletters, recurring surveys, team-oriented pages in the Confluence tool, etc.). Communication is a living issue that must constantly adapt.
“Companies with clearly communicated, widely understood and collectively shared mission and vision have been shown to perform better than those without. However, it is necessary to emphasize that they are only related to effectiveness when the strategy and the goals and objectives are also aligned with them.
Legal. Regulatory compliance.
Remote work challenges regulatory compliance requirements. Thanks to our previous WFH project, we have experience and we know how to manage it. But this needs to be taken VERY seriously, not as a purely administrative job, but as a key function that can be a differentiator in some cases. This new reality will have to respond both to existing requirements (perhaps differently) and to new situations that appear (rapid reaction).
Information security (for example, router and home Wi-Fi settings must be supported to avoid security holes). Invest in IT and security. Alignment of remote working policies and laws. As explained before: how to deal with the costs of the WFH (and the benefits of the WFH) is something that has been envisaged in Spanish law since October 2020. The right of employees to digital disconnect. With the spread of working from home, the line between personal and professional life is blurring. We need to define policies and procedures to ensure the safety of personal life.
Customer. Compliance with customer regulations.
It’s not that customers are the last. Quite the contrary. But if you work for a product company, the client doesn’t have to be involved in any of the above situations. But if you work in a service company… you better involve them in your “Back to the Future” project. WFH policies should be agreed with your clients. This means that customers must believe in the WFH:
Believe that people far away are at least as – if not more – productive at working from home (travel time, work-life balance – happy teams mean happy customers). Customer regulations and security requirements must be observed both when working from home and in the office (VPN and other information security techniques).
We are excited about this project and the impact it will have on our future way of working. We start with #workingfromhome and later we include a #horarioflexible. Now, #Backtothefuture and #digitalfirst projects will place GFT in a leadership position in the near future.
The future … I’m not sure you’re ready for this yet. But your kids will love it.
And in the meantime, take good care of yourself.