Assessment tools and office-less workforce: the new flexible work


These three companies have all gone remote, and one went as far as developing an assessment tool to ensure it would work for the whole organisation.

According to a report from FlexCareers, which surveyed 410 Australian and New Zealand employees, 64 per cent utilise flexible start and finish times, and 56 per cent have arrangements that allow them to work from home. On top of that, 47 per cent say they feel supported by their teams to utilise flexible work arrangements. It’s obvious that the world of work is changing and, if you haven’t already, it’s time to catch up.

Software company Atlassian (which boasts almost US$900 million in revenue) has rolled out a completely remote work program Australia-wide, with plans to take the policy global, pending its national success.

With over 3,000 employees across seven countries, it will be no easy task. That’s why it has implemented an assessment tool to make the transition easier.

Keep ahead of the curve

An internal survey from Atlassian reveals that 95 per cent of its staff want to work remotely. According to an article from The Fifth Estate, Atlassian receives 25 per cent more applications for remote working roles than office bound roles. It’s clear there’s an appetite from its staff, and Atlassian just had to figure out the best way to satisfy that.

Global head of talent at Atlassian, Bek Chee, spoke with HRM about the assessment tool and told us why the company decided to roll out the program.

“There are two main reasons why we wanted to do this. We are a fast growing company, and we’re always trying to look ahead. Expanding remote work across the continent, including regional areas, allows us to hire technical talent who aren’t necessarily interested or able to move to Sydney, where our office is,” says Chee.

With that in mind, Atlassian wanted to ensure that not only are individual employees suited to remote work, but that this approach would also work for the teams the individuals work within.

Chee and her team used an assessment tool to decide whether or not remote work would in fact work. The tool revolves around four categories:

  • A team’s configuration – how it’s set up and the roles and responsibilities within that team;
  • Team operation – how the team meets, how it does cross-functional work and how autonomous the work is;
  • How the team communicates – whether that be in person or with digital technologies like Zoom; and
  • Team health and wellness – this was considered as isolation and burnout can occur.

“We’re taking those four categories very seriously by going through and assessing our teams against them to get a handle on the current state of the team. To transition to remote work, we provide them with a list of practices, suggestions and hacks to become remote-ready,” says Chee.

Chee says they provide guides to setting up a home office, or giving them a ‘digital supply closet’ where all the procedures to using systems like Slack, and Zoom are provided in an easy to understand format.

Each team goes through the categories and relays what they require from their teams and how remote working can realistically work. That could be something like setting up a video call conference for meetings with members in the office.

“Some people are really well positioned in personality and have social skills which are much better suited for full remote work, but there are other people who need regular connection,” – Bek Chee, Global head of talent for Atlassian.

To ensure isolation is minimised, Atlassian suggests everyone joins a video call meeting, so the person(s) working remotely don’t feel they are left out.

“Getting everyone to take the meeting via video is kind of awesome. When only one person joins remotely, it’s easy to (unintentionally) leave them out of the discussion and harder for them to contribute. But when everyone dials in, even if it’s from their desk at the office, we’re all in the same boat and on our best behavior. We raise our hands to speak. We wait until the other person is done talking before chiming in. We’re less likely to let one person dominate the conversation,” says principal writer for Atlassian Sarah Goff-Dupont.

While the program alludes to going completely remote, Chee says the state of remote working is on a spectrum.

“Remote doesn’t mean working 100 per cent out of the office, some people could work one day a week out of the office, it all depends on the level of flexibility they need. Hopefully other companies can learn from us.”

No office? No worries.

This company has gone to similar lengths to facilitate a remote workforce, but has taken it one step further by making all of its employees work remotely.

InVision App is a digital product design platform with 700 employees, all of which work remotely. The company – which was founded by Clark Valberg in 2011 – does have a headquarters in New York, but claims that digital work can be done anywhere, so why not let their employees do just that, work from anywhere?

InVision’s chief people officer Mark Frein says the flexibility of working anywhere is hugely beneficial to his family.

“It’s lovely for us. If you have kids, you’re not held down during the school break. The freedom and flexibility are the most satisfying reasons for being at InVision,” he told Business Insider Australia.

His mindset of flexibility being good for both family and work reaches to InVision App’s employees who are based in over 25 countries.

“It’s about results, not where your IP address is,” – Mark Frein, InVision’s chief people officer.

Avoiding ‘burnout’

Of course, there are some issues that come with working remotely whilst producing great results, like the commonly known side effect of hard work, ‘burnout’.

Insured By Us (IBU) is one company that is trying to make remote work burnout free.

The insurance company has a Sydney-based headquarters, but like the companies mentioned above, has a large remote workforce which maintains communication like any office-based workers would.

“We make use of the communication tools we have for casual conversation as much as productivity. Small things like saying hello and goodbye at each end of your day can make a huge difference when you’re working remotely,” says IBU’s head of people and culture Georgina Robilliard.  

Through this form of communication, coupled with flexibility, the team thrives and attributes remote work to successful teams.

“I believe rigid, longer hours rarely result in more work being produced, and quickly lead to burnout and unhappy teams. We don’t have a team of clock watchers. We have people who start their days early to pick up their kids after school to spend the afternoon with their families. We also have people who find they’re most productive in the evening, so they start a little later.”

IBU shared some helpful tips for making remote work for your organisation. First of all, it is important to encourage casual conversation that would be found in the office. IBU says they do this by setting up regular voluntary conference calls that don’t have an agenda. Instead free-flow conversations are encouraged. On top of that, IBU says because their employees work in different time zones, planning and flexibility are key. Compromises and adjustments to schedules are ways IBU ensure they keep the pressure off.

Have you experienced going remote? Let us know in the comments below.


Going remote requires investment of time and effort, and knowing how to effectively manage change is of utmost importance. AHRI’s short course ‘Change management’ will guide you through the process.

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Phillip McDonald
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Phillip McDonald

It is interesting that so many articles on new trends in work are pitched as though the concepts should be universally applied, when they cannot be. Remote working may be a terrific idea for back of house staff, management and specialists. But it is not usually feasible in jobs such as retail, community services, child care, domestic services and teaching. These fields are female-dominated.

I support the practice, but we always need to think through the consequences.

DoubtingThomas
Guest
DoubtingThomas

Many articles have been written about the benefits of remote working and the people profiled in the articles apparently have the most amazing lives which would be the envy of office-bound workers. However, as Phillip points out, not everyone has a job that allows such flexibility because they are in client-facing roles and must be physically present. The option is great for those who have it though. It would also provide another benefit: not having to be around toxic colleagues or managers 🙂

Babbin
Guest
Babbin

This is great read as I work remotely a lot! At times it just helps me finish more but at times I end up working much longer hours – burnout!
We are also in process of trying to get more people hired around the globe to do this remote working. The nature of the work encourages people to do so and the company will benefit by having people with more skills and abilities and knowledge on the team!

More on HRM

Assessment tools and office-less workforce: the new flexible work


These three companies have all gone remote, and one went as far as developing an assessment tool to ensure it would work for the whole organisation.

According to a report from FlexCareers, which surveyed 410 Australian and New Zealand employees, 64 per cent utilise flexible start and finish times, and 56 per cent have arrangements that allow them to work from home. On top of that, 47 per cent say they feel supported by their teams to utilise flexible work arrangements. It’s obvious that the world of work is changing and, if you haven’t already, it’s time to catch up.

Software company Atlassian (which boasts almost US$900 million in revenue) has rolled out a completely remote work program Australia-wide, with plans to take the policy global, pending its national success.

With over 3,000 employees across seven countries, it will be no easy task. That’s why it has implemented an assessment tool to make the transition easier.

Keep ahead of the curve

An internal survey from Atlassian reveals that 95 per cent of its staff want to work remotely. According to an article from The Fifth Estate, Atlassian receives 25 per cent more applications for remote working roles than office bound roles. It’s clear there’s an appetite from its staff, and Atlassian just had to figure out the best way to satisfy that.

Global head of talent at Atlassian, Bek Chee, spoke with HRM about the assessment tool and told us why the company decided to roll out the program.

“There are two main reasons why we wanted to do this. We are a fast growing company, and we’re always trying to look ahead. Expanding remote work across the continent, including regional areas, allows us to hire technical talent who aren’t necessarily interested or able to move to Sydney, where our office is,” says Chee.

With that in mind, Atlassian wanted to ensure that not only are individual employees suited to remote work, but that this approach would also work for the teams the individuals work within.

Chee and her team used an assessment tool to decide whether or not remote work would in fact work. The tool revolves around four categories:

  • A team’s configuration – how it’s set up and the roles and responsibilities within that team;
  • Team operation – how the team meets, how it does cross-functional work and how autonomous the work is;
  • How the team communicates – whether that be in person or with digital technologies like Zoom; and
  • Team health and wellness – this was considered as isolation and burnout can occur.

“We’re taking those four categories very seriously by going through and assessing our teams against them to get a handle on the current state of the team. To transition to remote work, we provide them with a list of practices, suggestions and hacks to become remote-ready,” says Chee.

Chee says they provide guides to setting up a home office, or giving them a ‘digital supply closet’ where all the procedures to using systems like Slack, and Zoom are provided in an easy to understand format.

Each team goes through the categories and relays what they require from their teams and how remote working can realistically work. That could be something like setting up a video call conference for meetings with members in the office.

“Some people are really well positioned in personality and have social skills which are much better suited for full remote work, but there are other people who need regular connection,” – Bek Chee, Global head of talent for Atlassian.

To ensure isolation is minimised, Atlassian suggests everyone joins a video call meeting, so the person(s) working remotely don’t feel they are left out.

“Getting everyone to take the meeting via video is kind of awesome. When only one person joins remotely, it’s easy to (unintentionally) leave them out of the discussion and harder for them to contribute. But when everyone dials in, even if it’s from their desk at the office, we’re all in the same boat and on our best behavior. We raise our hands to speak. We wait until the other person is done talking before chiming in. We’re less likely to let one person dominate the conversation,” says principal writer for Atlassian Sarah Goff-Dupont.

While the program alludes to going completely remote, Chee says the state of remote working is on a spectrum.

“Remote doesn’t mean working 100 per cent out of the office, some people could work one day a week out of the office, it all depends on the level of flexibility they need. Hopefully other companies can learn from us.”

No office? No worries.

This company has gone to similar lengths to facilitate a remote workforce, but has taken it one step further by making all of its employees work remotely.

InVision App is a digital product design platform with 700 employees, all of which work remotely. The company – which was founded by Clark Valberg in 2011 – does have a headquarters in New York, but claims that digital work can be done anywhere, so why not let their employees do just that, work from anywhere?

InVision’s chief people officer Mark Frein says the flexibility of working anywhere is hugely beneficial to his family.

“It’s lovely for us. If you have kids, you’re not held down during the school break. The freedom and flexibility are the most satisfying reasons for being at InVision,” he told Business Insider Australia.

His mindset of flexibility being good for both family and work reaches to InVision App’s employees who are based in over 25 countries.

“It’s about results, not where your IP address is,” – Mark Frein, InVision’s chief people officer.

Avoiding ‘burnout’

Of course, there are some issues that come with working remotely whilst producing great results, like the commonly known side effect of hard work, ‘burnout’.

Insured By Us (IBU) is one company that is trying to make remote work burnout free.

The insurance company has a Sydney-based headquarters, but like the companies mentioned above, has a large remote workforce which maintains communication like any office-based workers would.

“We make use of the communication tools we have for casual conversation as much as productivity. Small things like saying hello and goodbye at each end of your day can make a huge difference when you’re working remotely,” says IBU’s head of people and culture Georgina Robilliard.  

Through this form of communication, coupled with flexibility, the team thrives and attributes remote work to successful teams.

“I believe rigid, longer hours rarely result in more work being produced, and quickly lead to burnout and unhappy teams. We don’t have a team of clock watchers. We have people who start their days early to pick up their kids after school to spend the afternoon with their families. We also have people who find they’re most productive in the evening, so they start a little later.”

IBU shared some helpful tips for making remote work for your organisation. First of all, it is important to encourage casual conversation that would be found in the office. IBU says they do this by setting up regular voluntary conference calls that don’t have an agenda. Instead free-flow conversations are encouraged. On top of that, IBU says because their employees work in different time zones, planning and flexibility are key. Compromises and adjustments to schedules are ways IBU ensure they keep the pressure off.

Have you experienced going remote? Let us know in the comments below.


Going remote requires investment of time and effort, and knowing how to effectively manage change is of utmost importance. AHRI’s short course ‘Change management’ will guide you through the process.

3
Leave a reply

avatar
500
  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of
Phillip McDonald
Guest
Phillip McDonald

It is interesting that so many articles on new trends in work are pitched as though the concepts should be universally applied, when they cannot be. Remote working may be a terrific idea for back of house staff, management and specialists. But it is not usually feasible in jobs such as retail, community services, child care, domestic services and teaching. These fields are female-dominated.

I support the practice, but we always need to think through the consequences.

DoubtingThomas
Guest
DoubtingThomas

Many articles have been written about the benefits of remote working and the people profiled in the articles apparently have the most amazing lives which would be the envy of office-bound workers. However, as Phillip points out, not everyone has a job that allows such flexibility because they are in client-facing roles and must be physically present. The option is great for those who have it though. It would also provide another benefit: not having to be around toxic colleagues or managers 🙂

Babbin
Guest
Babbin

This is great read as I work remotely a lot! At times it just helps me finish more but at times I end up working much longer hours – burnout!
We are also in process of trying to get more people hired around the globe to do this remote working. The nature of the work encourages people to do so and the company will benefit by having people with more skills and abilities and knowledge on the team!

More on HRM