Developing Inclusive Hybrid Working Policies
18th Feb 2022
As we slowly emerge from working from home orders, like many tech organisations, we were faced with a choice of whether to continue working fully remotely or adopt a more flexible hybrid approach.
When it comes to decisions that impact people’s personal lives, we believe a top-down approach does not work and we were guided by our values of fairness, inclusivity, transparency and collaboration to reach a mutual decision on the most appropriate working model.We were fortunate in that we continued to hire people during the pandemic, mainly due to the fact that helping people move more smartly through cities remains an important priority for governments and big tech.
The transition to a fully remote working model
We hired around 30 people from all across the UK remotely, benefiting from a diverse talent pool. Our teams transitioned exceptionally well to remote working and we were able to successfully recruit and onboard people by carefully adjusting and testing our processes until they worked well remotely. This included ensuring recruitment was streamlined and documented and that candidates were provided with enough materials to learn about Ito and our culture and we also ensured they met a wide range of colleagues during the recruitment process. We learnt that through careful design and preparation, remote recruitment and onboarding can work really well.
From a social perspective, we created opportunities for people to collaborate and connect remotely and again, this worked really well. We regularly sought feedback from our team members about their working experience and discovered that a large majority of people enjoyed the autonomy and flexibility of home working. Quality of work and communication was not compromised at all and if anything, improved as we had to carefully design our work processes and communication cadence to ensure they were effective for remote working. We provided people with the autonomy and freedom to work in a way that suited them best, ensuring we were clear about deliverables and providing lots of context. In short, remote working benefited our business and people.
The future - a hybrid work model
Many companies across the UK are now considering their options and an increasing trend seems to be a hybrid work model where people are asked to work from the office a couple of days a week, with the rest from home. Others (albeit a minority according to the ONS) are mandating the full time return to the office.
Our success in remote working was based on trust, collaboration, transparency and seeking feedback from our team members and therefore we took the same approach before deciding on a future working model. The Leadership Team decided not to mandate a return to the office, nor stipulate the days people needed to work from the office. We believe that if people suddenly lose an element of autonomy and control, it would have adverse effects on engagement, so we sought feedback from the entire team in order to collectively reach a decision on the way forward. A majority of people wished to continue working remotely and some wished to have the option of working from the office a few days of the week. We therefore decided to open the office and provide people with the choice of whether they wish to use it or not. We learnt that whilst it would be easier to continue a fully remote model, people value having the choice of how they work best.We worked hard to put in place safety measures to ensure the office is ready to welcome people back, ensuring this was communicated in advance and crucially, put a great deal of effort and care into ensuring that those who choose to work remotely do not feel excluded. Meetings will continue to happen via Teams whether people are in the office or not and whiteboarding and other collaborative tools will all be done online to ensure that those who work remotely are included. Our CEO, Johan also reiterated the importance of ensuring we don’t unconsciously imply that working in the office is expected, hence we have made great effort to ensure a fully inclusive experience for all.