Don’t overdo it We’ve found that it’s best not to work from home for more than two days per week - especially if doing so for an extended period. Any more than this and we find that communication can become difficult. This isn’t a one size fits all solution though and we’re aware that different roles have different requirements so we’re open to requests from people who want to explore working from home more than two days per week.
Be prepared Communication and planning ahead are key to smooth sailing. We don’t check up on employees working from home, but it helps everyone to know when people are available - and when they’re not. We ask that all employees make sure to put their out of office days in their calendar inviting all relevant people so that any offline time is clearly communicated to project or discipline teams.
Make sure you have good tech
Operating a successful flexible working scheme relies on having the tech infrastructure in place to deliver it. We’ve all been on frustrating conference calls when we could only hear every other word. This simply doesn’t work in the long term. If you’re committing to people working from home you need to commit to a good video conferencing system - seeing someone helps to create the feeling that they are more present in the room. Similarly, it’s important that files can be accessed easily from remote locations. Getting this right removes major pain points.
We use the Google Suite. This means that all documents are stored securely on Google Drive and colleagues can communicate seamlessly through Gmail wherever they are. This means that when working remotely, employees don’t have to worry about logging into VPNs or similar. This also means that colleagues can still work collaboratively on shared decks and docs wherever they are. Google Hangouts also remove friction from conference calling, allowing all participants to feel part of the meeting. And finally we also use Slack as a quick communication method to exchange short nuggets of need-to-know information quickly and effectively.
This is a key challenge. We’ve helped to alleviate this issue by asking that anyone planning to work from home lets their line managers and project teams know about their plans at least two days in advance. Informing people on the day doesn’t work well in practise. In order to do this we’ve set up a system where employees can inform all team members - this then compiles a list of everyone planning to be out of the office for that day which is then communicated to the whole Beyond team over Slack first thing each morning.
Trust is the basis of this initiative. In order to make it work, we have to trust our employees to be available and to work as agreed. Equally, employees need to trust us not to be constantly checking up on them. Regular communication is key to this. We’ve found that Slack is an effective communication medium when people are working from home as it’s a less formal channel than email and allows people to quickly inform their teams if they are likely to be unavailable for a length of time.