Want to know how companies are rewriting the future of work? (Part 1)

In the past six months, I’ve urged us to rethink why we work the way we do, to reimagine and experiment what work can look like. We looked at three basic work practices: When (9-5), where (office), how (meetings). I’ve mentioned that the office is no longer a place for routine work, and that we let the teams decide the when/where/how, not individuals. I’ve given us examples of what I’ve tried, how I’ve implemented the experiments and how those experiments turned out. Today, I am going to share with you what some companies are doing, how they reimagine and experiment their way into new ways of working. They are rewriting the future of work as we speak!

These companies have reimagined the same three basic work practices that we looked at before. Let me break that down for us.

1. “When”

Some companies went beyond 9-5 and looked into the five days a week practice. The goal was to increase employee productivity and reduce burnout. They tried out four days a week instead. Bolt, a San Francisco-based e-commerce start-up, is one such company. The pilot was so successful that they adopted a permanent four-day workweek for its nearly 600 employees at the beginning of 2022.

2. “Where”

While companies like Bolt already adopted permanent remote work, most companies haven’t. Instead, a lot of companies ask their employees to choose which day(s) of the week they would go into the office, thinking that would give employees flexibility. However “… with any big change, companies that don’t take a measured approach to implementing their policies could unintentionally exacerbate employee inequity. For example, if a company asks employees to pick two days in which they’ll work from the office, the result could be that some employees never get the opportunity to work together. It also may not be conducive to employees’ work, which may need more or less collaboration days. And it could ultimately make the workplace less equitable if managers let face time play a role in evaluations” Anita Williams Woolley, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, pointed out. “It’s the worst of both worlds,” she said. That’s why I recommended letting the team, not individuals, decide where work happens.

Zoom unveiled its new work arrangement in January, giving employees the power to choose how they want to work. It allows its more than 6,000 workers to choose whether to work in the office, work remotely, or go hybrid. What Zoom means is allowing its workers to work remotely a certain number of days per week or month at their choosing. Employees can alter their choices if they change their mind. Zoom said its approach was based on feedback from employees, customers and peers, who largely said they wanted flexibility and choices.

Before I give you more examples, what do you think of a four-day workweek? How about giving the workers flexibility to choose when to work where? Let me know your thoughts and leave me a comment below.

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