This week we’ve seen the “future of work” conversation judder back to life again as two stories hit national headlines.
We’ve seen Organisation A announce that their workers can live and work from anywhere they choose, and can relocate to anywhere in the country in which they work with no impact on their compensation.
Simultaneously, we’ve seen Organisation B share some “onsite demands” — announcing that if staff wish to work entirely remotely, they can — but they must take a 20% pay cut for the privilege.
As you are probably aware, we at Solvd Together love creating solutions by applying a human lens to a challenge. We’re big advocates of human centred design, and we truly believe that by listening to and understanding people’s situations, we come up with the best solutions to make things better in some way, shape, or form. So today, in light of some of the aforementioned announcements… we thought we’d share how we have taken a human centred approach to the future — and the now — of work.
The people have spoken
Let’s start, as we always should, by looking at what people are saying:
The pandemic showed us that 46.6% people could do their job from home.
On the plus side: 80% reported they could accomplish all required tasks and would recommend WFH to a friend. 56% of people WFH reported an increase in happiness levels (32% reported less stress and anxiety), 55% reported better concentration, and 28.9% reported an increase in productivity.
On the not so good side: 60% reported they felt disconnected from, and even missed, their colleagues. 28% struggled to unplug at the end of the day, and 16% experienced loneliness. 30.2% felt their productivity had fallen.
There’s some contradictory stuff in those two brackets. This clearly tells us that a one-size-fits-all approach — for example, a location mandate — doesn’t work. Forcing people to be in — or out — of a single spot isn’t the answer, because it doesn’t tick all the boxes for everybody involved.
So… here’s the Solvd design:
1.Work from anywhere: Work from any location that suits. If people want to come in and work in the office, great. If they want to work from home, great. If they want to split their time across both locations, great. If they want to work from a coffee shop, great. We don’t care where people do their job from — we care that they do it well, and that we can support them to do just that.
This approach means we have people working from a variety of locations — a truly diverse team, all bringing different life experiences to the table. So we get to learn from each other and up-skill, just by showing up to work.
2. Flex it: We have a flexible working policy. We ask that people are around for online meetings where required across normal office hours, as a courtesy to our clients, who may still be working those hours too. We also work an extra hour every day across 2 weeks — and take fortnightly Fridays off work, called “Flex Fridays” :)
3. Team days: We hold regular (monthly, give or take) working team days in our London office. We love it when people can make it in person and encourage them to do so. If they can’t, we’ll sort it with tech, so colleagues can still be there virtually and feel part of the team — using video conferencing functions, collaborative online tools like Mural, digital polls and games etc.
4. Fair pay: We don’t base people’s pay on where they live, what transport they use to get to work, or their unique personal circumstances. We base pay on somebody’s skill, the demands of their role, their work performance, and the value they add to Solvd and our clients.
5. Trust good people: We have a rigorous hiring process that means we only hire really good people. By “good” we mean smart and skilled, versatile and adaptable, but also responsible, reliable, great team players. This is how we define “professional”.
Ultimately this means we can treat each other like grown-ups. We can confidently put things like “haircut appointment” in our diaries, and are genuinely understanding if someone has to drop out early because they’ve got a meeting at their child’s school. We encourage people to block out time for lunch every day, to get away from their workspace. We log time — to keep tabs on project spend, not to keep tabs on each other. We trust each other to get the job done and done well.
6. Laughing together: We meet weekly for a fun “Solvd Together Cup” team event (virtually or in the office — people join in from wherever they are). We do challenges, have drinks, socialise together, play Drawasaurus — it’s brilliant, and it’s a great way to mark the end of another week making fantastic progress in our work (and a firm reminder to switch off for the weekend).
Why “onsite demanding” doesn’t work
The problem(s) we have with this form of “onsite demanding” (paying those who work remotely a considerably lower salary despite doing the same job and hours) is the implicit assumption that people who work remotely aren’t working as hard as those in an office. And rather than assessing someone’s genuine work performance as a framework for pay, it frames the issue of compensation more as a postcode lottery.
Not to mention the detrimental cap it puts on an organisation’s talent pool, essentially discouraging applications from those from outside a certain geography (and, in many cases, certain social backgrounds). It restricts diversity in all aspects. It creates an “us versus them” divide amongst staff. And let’s not even start on the logistics of equity… if a company has someone working from home 2 days per week but from the office 3 days per week, will they pro-rata their pay based on their working location?
The Solvd summary
Hire good, professional people. People you can trust to take a personal sense of responsibility for delivering outstanding work. People with talent and intelligence, but also people with integrity. Put stock in the quality of your team and stop worrying about where they’re working from. Good people make things happen regardless of their location. If you have a strong, diverse, trustworthy team, you can design a working approach that satisfies all members of staff. An approach that is truly flexible and facilitates the production of absolutely incredible work.
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