Work from anywhere trend picks up pace as Spotify signs on
Spotify has introduced a Work From Anywhere (WFA) policy for all of its employees set to remain in effect even once the pandemic has ended. This follows a flurry of similar flexible work initiatives announced by companies in the last 10 months.
Following a distributed-first mentality (a workplace that isn’t built on the premise that employees need to gather in an office with traditional desk setups), the Sweden-headquartered streaming giant’s new WFA policy allows employees to “work from wherever they do their best thinking and creating” the company said in a statement.
“Through this distributed-first mentality, we are giving employees the opportunity to elect a Work Mode – whether they’re prefer to work mostly at home or in the office – as well as their geographic location.”
Long-term work from anywhere trend gaining momentum
The new WFA work policy from Spotify, which employees more than 5,500 staff in 79 countries, follows in the flexible workplace initiatives introduced by a number of social media and tech companies since the onset of the pandemic.
Twitter was th e first off the remote-working policy blocks in May last year, with CEO Jack Dorsey telling his employees they could continue working from home “forever”, closely followed by Facebook. But it was Google’s introduction of its ongoing remote-working policy in July, affecting 200,000 global workers, that was a bit of a green light for other companies who may have been sitting on the remote-working fence.
Since then, more companies have followed suit, with Square, Siemens, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Amazon, Microsoft, Shopify, Coinbase, Upwork, PayPal, and most recently, Salesforce and Spotify, all announcing continued remote-work setups for the foreseeable future.
Such steps by such big-name companies are unsurprising given what has been the biggest global home-working experiment yet over the last year, with recent research from Gartner revealing that almost half (48%) of employees now expect to work from home even after the pandemic is over.
So, what’s behind the distributed-first model thinking?
While the pandemic certainly accelerated the acceptance of the remote-working model, this distributed-first mentality has playing out leadership minds for some time especially with digitisation sweeping the world.
Spotify, for example, has long championed the idea that digitalisation and globalisation are massive drivers for a more flexible workplace that better suit its business and admits that the events of the last year has accelerated this thinking.
So, what exactly is thinking behind this? Well, Spotify doesn’t believe that effectiveness can be measured by the number of hours people spend in an office. Instead, giving people the freedom to choose where they work “will boost effectiveness”. Similarly, by giving people more flexibility, they will achieve a better work-life balance, and so will be more effective employees.
Providing such flexibility also gives Spotify the chance to tap into new talent pools while keeping its existing employees and will further challenge the company “to improve our communication and collaboration practices, processes, and tools”.
According to Spotify’s HR blog, there are many competitive advantages of a flexible approach, describing flexible work as the jewel in its “talent attraction crown” meaning that by being flexible, Spotify can tap into new talent pools while keeping its existing talented employees.
Other companies agree. Following digital currency exchange Coinbase’s announcement that it would move to a remote-first policy in light of COVID-19, CEO Brian Armstrong said it believed remote working represented “a huge opportunity and strategic advantage for us”.
5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
This week (14th-20th June 2021) is Men’s Health Week. Physical and mental well-being have been important considerations for leaders over the past year, and it is essential this focus is maintained as we build back for the future. Here we have asked 5 experts for practical tips leaders can implement to create healthy workplace cultures.
Know the early signs of burnout
Recently it was reported by the BBC that burnout for health and social care staff had reached emergency levels.
Monkey Puzzle Training Co-Founder Karen Meager has studied the burnout recovery process in partnership with Coventry University: “The past year has seen people suffer from job-loss worries, work from home challenges, isolation, and feeling overworked. These are continuing, and all have the potential to contribute towards burnout. Healthcare workers, executives, leaders, managers and small business owners will continue to be the top people to suffer from extreme burnout.”
“At the onset of burnout, people commonly enter a phase of denial. So leaders need to be aware of those who are reluctant to take their time off, are compelled to work all hours, or have changes in their behaviour or mood, as these can all be indications of burnout taking hold. Encouraging them to take a burnout self-test provides a starting point to supporting these employees through recovery, as is role modelling healthy sustainable ways of working.” Karen suggests.
Encourage professional self-reflection
Creating an environment that encourages self-reflection is an effective tool for promoting personal development. Journaling may not be something you instantly think of for professional development; however, it is a successful technique for adults to aid mindfulness and productivity. “Journaling is a form of self-expression that can empower you to understand your feelings and ambitions and how to deal with them, therefore promoting positive well-being and a healthy workplace culture,” describes Elisa Nardi, founder of Notebook Mentor.
“Just 15-20 minutes of journaling a day over the course of four months are enough to lessen the impact of physical stressors on your health,” explains Elisa. “It can also inspire creativity, aid your memory, and help set actionable goals. It is an underused tool that can help employees manage tricky workplace situations such as conflict, illness or new leadership roles.”
Manage your stress and resilience too
As a leader or manager, often, your complete focus is on the business or protecting your team, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Leaders should also have strategies in place to manage their own stress, so they can sustain high levels of positive energy throughout the day. “Fueled by a burning desire for success, I ignored all the warning signs of exhaustion, which eventually took its toll on me - I literally collapsed from stress, and I didn’t even see it coming.” reflects Sascha Heinemann, an expert in Performance Recovery and Stress Resilience.
“When leaders manage their energy, create healthy daily habits, and practice resilience, they are able to perform to their fullest capacity and to provide the best possible support for others.”
“Taking a break every 90 minutes or so helps you to refuel, recharge, and re-energize and ultimately allows you to get more accomplished, in less time, at a higher level of quality, and more sustainably. This role model contributes dramatically to a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workplace culture," he adds.
Instil a sense of purpose for your team
The idea that success equals working 12-15 hour days and giving everything of yourself to your workplace continues to prevail in many organisations. This is not healthy, nor is it productive for anyone involved. “The healthiest and happiest workplace cultures are the ones that are organised around purpose.” describes business and life coach Anand Kulkarni.
“Leaders should be giving meaning to the work they are doing within their business and beyond and sharing this purpose with their staff, rather than focusing on long hours, crippling workloads or someone else’s idea of ‘success’. When people understand why they are doing what they do and how this contributes to something greater, productivity and well-being is increased.” adds Anand.
Promote well-being from the top down
Leaders need to act as role models if well-being is to become embedded at the very core of the organisation. It’s very unlikely that employees will start acting in a new way that puts their own needs first if the leadership team continues to behave in an entirely different manner.
‘Many organisations have worked hard in recent months to put new policies in place that better support well-being, promote hybrid working and attempt to set clear boundaries, but many leaders seem to assume that they are exempt from it all, that’s when it all falls over’, explains leadership experts Martin Boroson and Carmel Moore, from The One Moment Company.
A recent ONS report into Homeworking in the UK revealed that people are on average working 6 hours extra per week, and many are working until late in the evening, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever.
“Despite all of these wonderful opportunities for people to self-organise, if the leadership team continues to work in the office Monday to Friday, or are communicating at all hours, then it’s a clear indicator that hybrid working is simply a ‘bolt-on’ tactic rather than an integral part of the company’s approach to promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.’