How are we going to work once the dust settles after the Covid-19 pandemic? How do we combine the best from the home office–its better work/life balance, reduced commute time, and digital routines—with our needs to have an ergonomic working station and to meet face-to-face within and across the organization? We are convinced that a combination of the two is the way forward, here is how we think.
Remote working works! How do we use that knowledge?
Remote working at full scale came fast and unplanned last spring, but it was a great learning opportunity that showed us that efficiency and working from the office are not mutually exclusive. At WirelessCar we now want to cherry pick what to keep from this experience while at the same time make sure that our office spaces support our staff, way of working and growth as much as possible.
That is why we are investing significantly in being at the forefront of office design when building the future workplace for our staff. What should the office be used for? Maybe culture building and collaboration rather than focus work? How is it best designed to support our teams of developers, their personal well-being and efficiency? And how do we change our digital tools, communication, and way of working to support a workforce that is more widespread than before?
Employee involvement and significant investments to reach vision and goal
To explore this, we have involved all our staff, interior designers, IT, communication, Way of Working, and the management team. Securing a modern, flexible, purpose-fit, and culture building workplace is now one of our main investments for 2021.
Mats Lindholm, VP HR: “The vision is that we want ‘freedom, mobility and collaboration’ to be the guiding stars for our new and improved office layout and we believe that further digitalization is the way to get there. In short, we want our workplace to contribute to our staff's excellence the same way that our digital services do to our customers'.”
The goal is simple: To be a modern workplace that puts our employees’ needs at the center, where we create the best conditions to shine as individuals, teams, and as a company.
The challenges and what people think
Right now, we are in the middle of establishing what exactly this means for us as a software company. Digital is in our DNA, but of course there are some challenges. For example, not everyone has a perfect home office situation, and sometimes our teams need to work tightly together with short notice. Also, the work that our development teams do is often deeply dependent on what other teams do. At the same time, office spaces that better support team creativity sessions, culture building, and knowledge sharing puts pressure on removing the individual desk. This in turn might be a challenge if you need to be flexible or if you have very specific equipment.
Figures from our internal survey, however, show that 38% of our employees want to spend more than 50% of their time at the office while 60% want to do more than 50% of their work from home, which opens the door for new solutions.
Mats Lindholm, VP HR: “As we think about the different possibilities going forward, one solution could be to enable a mix of recreation, creativity, inspiration and informal meeting areas with workplaces designed for concentration and team cooperation.”
The desire to transform the way we work can be seen on a larger scale as companies in Sweden examine the best way forward after the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by Netigate in January 2021, 73% of the 2,055 participants answered that they want to work both from home and from a regular workplace when the spread of infection has ceased. 75% of the nationally representative sample want the company they work for to be more flexible when it comes to work performed from home.
Our chosen way forward
Taking all of this into account, we are evaluating a solution where we mix remote and office work, but where teams are enabled to meet face 2 face. A solution where each and everyone of our staff has an allocated desk, but share it with a colleague; where we redesign team areas to better support development work; add more cozy areas for recreation and spontaneous meetings; add purpose fit areas for standups and other presentations that you can join face-to-face or remote; and where we have a number of bookable and flex seats.
Combined with new digital tools such as digital whiteboards and smart conference cameras, communication efforts such as frequent town halls, ergonomic equipment for the home office, more social events, and an updated way of working, this will set a new normal to look forward to.
A new normal that we believe will get the best out of both worlds, make our colleagues proud, and as one of our employees put it: “to thrive alongside our colleagues in a progressive environment”.
Mats Lindholm, VP HR again: “We believe that this will facilitate a good work-life balance, free up unwanted commuting time and thus also contribute to a more sustainable world for us all. To secure well-being, we address social isolation with events and face-to-face meetups; we provide good ergonomics at the home offices; and we arrange for mental and physical health sessions like meditation, yoga etc. To constantly track how our staff feels we also use a tool for weekly feedback.”
These efforts combined with an agile small scale rollout to begin with and continuous adaptations/improvements based on employee feedback should secure a successful transformation of our offices and how we work during the coming year.
Finally, another effect of this future workplace is that people will not need to live as close to the office as before, which not only allows for easier recruitment, but for our employees to live closer to nature and to maybe even work shorter periods from abroad.