Thursday, August 26, 2021
Early birds, night owls, childcare or hobbies - all factors that speak against the typical nine-to-five job with a fixed workplace. Not least Corona has shown that, contrary to all fears, this can often be implemented without any problems. For the post-pandemic period, many therefore now predict that this enormous flexibility will continue in the job context. Hybrid work is the keyword.
Basically, this term means the combination of different working models: mobile, semi-mobile and office-based. Employees are free to choose how, when and from where they prefer to work. The big advantage: individual needs and requirements in professional and private life can be flexibly met. No wonder that 73% of employees would still like to have the option of working in a home office. However, 67% would like to have more personal contact with their team again for the time after the pandemic (Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index). Both aspects speak for a hybrid work model.
What is currently being discussed in many companies has been the norm at byte5 since 2018: all employees are basically free to work when and from where they want, as long as collaboration with colleagues and customers is not impaired. After lockdown and the like, employees are now slowly returning to the office in Frankfurt or back to hybrid working. This is the perfect opportunity to talk to Jessica, who is responsible for team happiness and recruiting, about the current situation.
byte5 has been using hybrid working since 2018. Since there are no core working hours, employees can work from anywhere at any time. How did this come about?
The beginning was made in 2018. Due to rigid rules and a lot of bureaucracy, the mood in the team and also motivation dropped at that time. In response, we first introduced flexible home office and then abolished core working hours. Since then, it no longer matters where and when we work. In addition, our no-pain policy was introduced to simplify cooperation and to meet the different demands of our colleagues. The developments were so positively received by the team that the trust offensive was expanded in 2019 with the trust leave.
How is the mood in the team today, how is the flexible working model received?
I experience the mood in the team as very positive. The hybrid model has been actively used and well accepted by the employees, and not just since Corona. The advantages of our model are definitely flexibility, but also the freedom to organise one's daily life independently and according to one's own needs. It's not just the parents in our team who appreciate this, as it makes it much easier for them to combine family and work.
What I hear back from my colleagues is that many of them can concentrate better at home. In the office there are some distractions. On the other hand, many people miss the interpersonal contact and the second family when they are away from the office for a longer period of time. The personal, spontaneous exchange with colleagues is simply not the same remotely. So there are advantages and disadvantages.
What measures are in use at byte5 to maintain the team feeling remotely?
We already started actively looking after team spirit during the first lockdown. Since then, for example, we have had our team newsletters. Here, everything that happened in the past week is briefly exchanged - from progress in the project to new assignments to internal topics. For our devs, there are also project-related Entwicklys and Dailys. In the cross-team weekly, we naturally continue to play our H5YR bingo. This strengthens the team spirit even more. The winnings can then be collected immediately during the next office visit.
Otherwise, it is important to us that the exchange between colleagues continues. But usually you don't have to initiate this at all, it is simply lived. For example, it's no problem to ask for help and advice if something doesn't work out or to chat in between. You always find an open ear. Our coffee kitchen, a team channel, is particularly important for exchanges outside of work topics. Here we greet each other every morning or exchange music recommendations, pet photos and everything else that is on our minds. It always gives me a bit of a feeling of being in the kitchen in the office, just making myself a coffee and having a quick chat with my colleagues.
We have also recently reactivated our team breakfast. We meet once a week either in the office or in parallel via a team call from home. Anyone who feels up to it can join us.
We also try to stick to our team events - whether remote or on-site. Last year we held our Christmas party remotely. There was a Christmas battle with lots of games, challenges and of course prizes. It was really fun and brought the team even closer together. For our summer party, however, we hope that we can all see each other live again. Our fingers are crossed.
How was it before Corona with weeklys, bingo and the like? Did these formats already exist as hybrid formats?
There were no cross-team weeklys before the pandemic. Instead of sharing news via the office grapevine, they are now discussed here. That's very useful because the whole team automatically hears everything that's important. For our bingo, there were fixed dates twice a month when we gathered in the Konfi. With the weekly meeting as a regular date, this has also become much less complicated. Since we also talk about other topics, we don't get together "for nothing" if there are no nominations.
How is hybrid working currently implemented at byte5?
Since Corona, everyone in the team has had a fixed workplace in the office, but also at home. Thanks to our work equipment, such as laptops, Bluetooth headsets and the like, we have always been very flexible. At the moment, our colleagues come to the office once or three times a week. Depending on the workload or the incidence rate and how much we miss each other.
In conversations with our applicants, I always tell them that it is basically voluntary whether someone wants to come to the office or not. We handle the remote situation really well and that's why we've recently started hiring remotely. Our colleagues then come to Frankfurt once a month and the reunion is all the more special and always fun.
And what is the plan for the medium term?
We will definitely continue with the hybrid model, as always on a voluntary basis. However, if there is a new lockdown, the security of the team will of course take priority and we will return completely to the home office or only work from the office in individual cases with the necessary security measures.
To monitor the mood in the team, we now also conduct a small survey every quarter: Who would like to come into the office, when and how often? In the long term, we are currently considering whether we can also incorporate the hybrid way of working into our office design, for example with shared desks. But we are still at the beginning and in close dialogue with the whole team.
Looking into the future: What does the perfect working model look like for you personally?
The perfect working model for me is still a hybrid model. Even before Corona, I thought it was great that I had fixed days when I was in the office. Then I could plan, film and really do everything that concerns the team on location. Things that require a lot of concentration, for example, I simply worked on from home. I can imagine that being the case in the future as well; for me, it's the perfect solution!
Thank you, dear Jessie, for the interview and your impressions!
Even though hybrid working is firmly anchored in everyday life at byte5, the working model has been further developed through the influence of the pandemic. The different demands of the colleagues can be met even better this way.