Insights

Remote work from the office, how to handle it?

Remote work from the office, strategies to manage it.

in IT Strategy, Software development By Carlos Camara, Managing Partner

We at Hexis are in a state of transition, slowly returning to the office, being sure to abide by all security measures recommended by Portuguese authorities.

Already, the transition is posing a few challenges. Namely, how to merge the new routines created from working remotely while maintaining the productivity levels which our company demands.

Merging the new routines created

Working remotely has been part of our cultural DNA as a Nearshore IT company, but entirely replacing our traditional work structure in such a short period will inevitably bring feelings of uncertainty and anxiety which could prove detrimental to our workplace productivity.

Through breaking the routine structure incrementally and merging these steps with a return plan, we will better understand how to support our greatest company asset: our amazing staff.

It's essential to take the right precautions in our return to the office so that exposure to the virus is limited. We have provided the necessary safety equipment to support our staff and provide free parking to any employee that wishes to commute by car, as to avoid the risks of public transportation.

An immediate return to normalcy is impossible. We would have too many workers present in too small of an office space to meet our safety standards. This is why we are blending “remote work from home” with “remote work from the office”. To do this, we are implementing a policy in which employees are to alternate which days they will work at the office. Using this strategy will allow us to create a clean, spacious, and safe environment. Additionally, we are implementing new hygiene routines to ensure our office’s health.

Another change that “remote work from the office" brings is the change in physical proximity of coworkers. Indeed, all of us have suffered from social distancing, temporarily unable to be physically close to our colleagues, partaking in discussions that bring value to our work outcome. In response though, we have become more efficient in the way we communicate albeit in our physically distant state. Physical distancing has certainly imposed the challenge of isolation, and individuals are challenged in bridging this social gap. We at Hexis have leveraged our workplace technology, using video conference calls with the entire staff for “fun periods” which encourage creativity and comradery. Back in the office, we all need to be conscious of the use of masks and closed spaces as social etiquette, staying respectful of each other. We undergo daily meetings in designated open areas, where our employees collaborate effectively yet safely with each other.

The safety of our employees is our top priority. To ensure safe commutes and office spaces for our employees, we are also implementing internal safety processes in addition to the Portuguese general health department guidelines. Our new safety measures not only show our commitment to our staff’s safety but also serve as a model on how to bring new hygienic routines which are key to a safe return to the office.

How to ensure productivity is maintained

It would be reasonable to think that before COVID-19, remote work could hurt productivity. In the IT sector and more specifically software development, however, remote work has been an often-used practice that has more benefits than just helping retention rates. At Hexis, we have previously used this policy to great effect, as workers face fewer distractions while working from home.

When we transitioned from our usual 20 percent remote work to 100 percent, we found the change to be seamless. Our staff was already familiar with remote work, our workspace infrastructure was already set in place, and all of the tools needed to support our team were available to us.

With reduced office distractions, optimized allocation of our employees’ time balanced with video call engagement, productivity has increased dramatically. Our team is accomplishing timeline objectives before deadlines, much to the appreciation of our clients. But how can we maintain such productivity levels as we transition back into the office? Using our new communication strategies, we are confident we will maintain this standard. We are transitioning meetings that were previously in person into emails when appropriate. Additionally, when meetings are necessary, discussions will be more efficient and concise, and office disruptions that previously interrupted the workday will be mitigated.

In this transition, we have been able to keep teams focused and engaged with a light environment where productivity is maintained as in a traditional remote setting.

Conclusion

With the safety of our staff as a priority, the policies implemented at Hexis successfully changed the workflow process. The existence of the physical office is vital to maintaining our company’s identity, where our values can remain in the office space that we all cherish.

We believe that the changes in our new "office" are here to stay. While some may view this need for change as obvious, others may be concerned about potential decreases in employee engagement and productivity. This view represents a shortsighted mentality, one that assumes a loss of competitiveness and productivity with no clear origin.

We are able to continue clear communication through a variety of channels, maintain our current company hierarchical solution approach, and use our resources to closely manage and provide consistent delivery cycles for our clients. The shift in our work strategy has not resulted in a decrease in our optimal rate of delivery. We are hopeful that our changes in workplace optimization will help to trim office expenses and increase performance in terms of %EBITDA in the quarters to come.

The reality is that our office space provides an enjoyable and safe environment for our staff and is critical in maintaining the company identity and culture. Adopting changes in company workplace strategy has become a necessary step during these unprecedented times. We are confident that these changes will provide lasting and meaningful positive outcomes for our company’s productivity and competitiveness.

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