Working remotely requires more than permission to work from home
This summer, Finestmedia was delighted with another recognition - we were awarded the Teleworker Label (Kaugtöö Tegija), which gives all current and future employees a guarantee that our working methods and management structure support working remotely in every way.
Teleworking and hybrid work is nothing extraordinary for Finestmedia, it was our company's daily life long before the pandemic. There are people in our team who do not live in Tallinn, and we have a whole branch in Gdansk, Poland. But we learned a lot during the crisis - first and foremost, adjusted leadership required for organizing effective location-independent work, and how to support leaders who need to maintain team spirit in the new norm.
Hybrid work came to stay
In Finestmedia, hybrid work is understood as an opportunity given to an employee to choose a suitable work pattern. If the employee's contribution is mainly individual, it is a breeze. A person returns to the office when he or she misses colleagues or when he or she needs support for which an online chat or phone call is not enough. But how to operate teams in good symbiosis, where some members are always in the office, some spend part-time in the office and part-time at home, and some number of employees is almost 100% away from the office?
A recent survey in the UK showed that after the pandemic, the majority of workers prefer the hybrid working model (67%). One-third would work in the home office 1-2 days a week, the other third 3-4 days. Only 12% would work only in a home office. The freedom of choice offered to our employees takes into account the unique strengths of the people and the fact that the home office may not be suitable for everyone in the same way - as many as there are different people, there may be members in the team with different work patterns.
At Finestmedia, we believe that when choosing a pattern that suits you, is worth considering the needs of yourself and your team as a whole. In addition to analyzing personal effectiveness and social needs, it is also worth thinking about what kind of support other team members expect or what format allows them to be involved in the information field of the organization - both as a consumer and a distributor of information. While it can be enjoyable to delve deeper at home, it is clear today that it doesn`t take much to end up in isolation and encapsulation, feeling excluded or decrease in motivation, and even ending up with mental health problems. Preventing it is the responsibility of both, the employee and the manager.
Humans are social beings
Effective teleworking is often thought to be something that works in itself when there is trust between the employee and the employer - in which case the manager can simply be sure that everything that is needed will be done. In reality, teleworking and hybrid work require much more thorough organization. Constant conversations and meetings help make sure that, in addition to work, everything is fine with the employee.
As social beings, we know good moods and time spent with companions are correlated. It is said that, on average, a good day includes six hours of social time. To some extent, we can consider social media communication and online chatting to be social time, but there are big risks involved - it is easy to overdo it and it can result in mood drops.
In addition to daily social time, it is healthy for a person to have 3-4 close relationships. Many of them are often co-workers, with whom, in addition to work problems, private situations are often discussed in coffee breaks, lunchtime, and after work. If a remote worker gets these close relationships from elsewhere, he or she may not have a social deficit. However, if a person spends most of their time at home alone, loneliness and depression can take over.
A trustworthy relationship with your manager
This is where the adjusted leadership role comes into play. Managers who have so far been able to rejoice in the team's organic interaction must begin to consciously seek contact with each employee and constantly monitor employee satisfaction, involvement and potential concerns.
Good managers must know their employees and be so reliable that they are ready to talk to them openly about their expectations. Managers need to invest time in building a trusting relationship with the employees and to gain trust, they must open up, dare to be vulnerable and be ready to create psychological security for both sides. The challenging part is to be able to get people with opposing work patterns to work together.
Although much can be learned, it also requires certain personal qualities. Not everyone has natural characteristics to involve people, connecting conversations come as a great effort for some managers, and it is difficult for them to descend to the role of listener and synthesizer. However, this is exactly what is needed to build a trusting relationship - not to limit the question to how the employee is doing, but to dedicate even a few hours to listen and coach the employee.
In this way, by constantly communicating with team members, a good manager can create a rhythm of teamwork that takes into account the opportunities and needs of people with different work patterns. And this is extremely critical because only in this way is it possible to ensure the individual satisfaction of each employee, but also the effective synergy of the whole team and the continuous development of the organizational culture.
Transforming the role of the office
But why an awesome office, just for having business meetings? We in Finestmedia don’t think so - our brand new Fahle Quarter nest, which was completed only in 2020, is not designed for meetings, but for being together.
The office is not just a work environment, it must help implement the values of the organization, the communication of the vision, the creation and keeping of traditions. We see the office as a place where it is possible to experience the company in its purest form and fill your social vessel. We have created an office so that there are places to eat together, chat on a comfortable sofa, relax in a fun atmosphere with teammates after intense meetings.
Employees want to come to such an office – both, those who live next to the office and those who have to take a long bus ride or even flight to come here. We believe that no virtual environment will ever replace the spontaneous „aha moments“ that arise during a physical meeting, where innovation is born, a new solution to a problem, a business idea, a discovery about a colleague, an idea to have celebrations with the team or anything else besides work that the team life includes. Therefore, we remain a flexible employer, offering freedom of choice and valuing employee well-being in a broader context.