A couple of years ago the acronym WFH (work from home) was a scarcely spoken phrase. Today, it has proliferated to its common place status. At Discova, we strongly believe that the modern working era needs ‘WFH’ to retain that status to ensure employee happiness and business agility. For us, the key to engraining workplace flexibility is employee trust and evaluating people on their achieved outcomes rather than presenteeism.
In 2022, we began implementing a new flexible working policy that accommodated not only the shifting work environment caused by the pandemic, but the overall global drive towards a more adaptable, workplace balance. At present, we have some staff who work fully remotely, and others who benefit from the choice of working from home during select days of the week. Our flexible working policy states that team members, unless otherwise agreed upon, should spend minimum 60% of normal hours in their working location (3-5 days per week), and team leaders minimum 80-100% of normal hours in their work location (4-5 days per week). Outside of that, they can work from home (or in a café, beachside restaurant, gym, etc.) as they see fit. We spoke to our Human Resources (Peopleworks) team and staff to find out what this policy has achieved.
While we have about a handful of Discovians who work fully remotely, we wanted to find a solution that caters to the needs of the 80-90% of our staff that can’t work from home all the time.
“We want to give that large proportion of our people the ability to work a hybrid week, where they could work some days in the office, and some days at home.” – Natalie Vine, Peopleworks (HR) Leader
The decision wasn’t one that was made without the input of all stakeholders. Our HR team did its research and asked staff members and leaders what flexibility would mean and look like to them post-Covid. After Covid restrictions began easing, staff were asked whether they wanted to stay at home or return to the office, and, overwhelmingly, most wanted the flexibility of having both. For some, working full-time at home wasn’t a viable, comfortable option, and others simply wanted to continue to have the social engagement that comes with an office environment. If you check out our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, you’ll see that we really are big on company culture and interactions, and it’s no surprise that people enjoy that fun social aspect.
The question that has arisen for many companies during and after the pandemic is whether working in an office is even necessary at all if things can be done from home. So why did we opt for a hybrid working policy? For one, as mentioned above, we listened to our staff and that’s what they preferred. Second, our HR team knew from research that the easiest way to build connections is through face-to-face interactions.
“Through Covid, we sadly had to say goodbye to more than 50% of our workforce. As we re-emerge, it’s really important to us that our new people get to experience our office culture of transparency, open communication, accessible leaders and working in an open plan office.” – Michaela Connor, Peopleworks (HR) Leader and Global L&D Manager
The in-person office experience also lends itself to growth and dynamism of roles between departments. Natalie smiles as she notes that “We’ve had travel consultants move into the finance department, finance people move into operations. We love that internal mobility”. She believes that one of the best ways to encourage that mobility is when people can see colleagues from other departments in action, in person.
While we pride ourselves on being modern and forward-thinking, we do still have the desire to connect our people on a very human level and to create a meaningful company culture, and that means interaction beyond a digital screen. That is, after all, what travel itself is all about too.
Natalie points out that as we rebuild after Covid, “we also want to attract the best talent, and that means casting a wide net”, something that has been better achieved with a flexible working policy. “One of the first questions we get asked during interview stages is whether we have remote-working policies or possibilities”. In the recruitment process, we have certainly attracted even more of the talent we’re searching for with this policy.
Whether new or long-standing staff, we have also found that the flexible working approach has encouraged a stronger sense of trust between leaders and team members. A confidence is developed within all staff. From day one, clear expectations are set, and employees immediately feel that they are trusted, and in return, they trust their team leaders and Discova as a whole. We reward performance and output, not presenteeism.
The policy has been enthusiastically-received by staff, with the overriding consensus being that our people love to split their time between the office and their home.
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