At Mindcurv, we have always found ways to let our team members work in the most efficient and productive way they see fit. Most of our international teams are spread across the globe and were used to a hybrid and virtual environment from day one due to our mixed shore approach.
When the pandemic started, a message in Slack was all we needed to switch to a fully remote setup. It was just part of our DNA, and if you have all the tech and tools and a team used to that way of working, it’s easy, right? It took not too long until we figured out it was not that easy.
Two years later, we have evolved in so many ways, and so has the work culture worldwide, which has us all the more excited for the future of work.
Mindcurv is a Remote-First Hybrid Company
Work at Mindcurv has always been flexible to fit in with our members. Frequent social interaction and networking events were part of our work. Moreover, bringing our people together was one of the best parts of working from the office. We enjoyed meeting colleagues and going out to lunch together. Members could attend events at the office and work from home for extended periods.
However, the pandemic changed the norms of work entirely, and we had to find and adjust to new ways of collaborating. As Mindcurv had to transition to a fully remote company in March 2020, it was a change – for the organization, there were a few infrastructural and logistic details to be managed.
For members, it required a physical and emotional adaptation. While just a few had opted for remote working before, now it was the turn of the whole workforce to adapt.
I still find it hard to find the boundary between leisure and work – it often blurs into one another, which is not always easy to manage and often makes it difficult to be either here or there 100%. I once had the idea of getting in the car in the morning, driving around the block, then starting work at home and repeating the ritual in the evening. I never implemented it in that form, but consciously flipping the switch mentally is something I would recommend to everyone.
Together, we embraced the new normal. While today other organizations are already thinking about how to limit flexibility and at least partially reintroduce compulsory presence in the offices, we have made a clear decision.
We are taking it a step further with a new work policy for Mindcurv, which is there to sustain. Remote-First Hybrid: a hybrid way of working in which our members primarily work from home and come to the office whenever it adds value.
Our members took to the transition well and supported each other successfully. Not only did Mindcurv exhibit amazing growth during this time, but we were also able to acquire new customers and make strategic acquisitions. These two years have proved that we are a highly adaptive organization and are well equipped to survive and emerge stronger from the crisis.
Where We Are Going
Our learning from the last two years is that remote work has many benefits that outweigh the shortcomings. We have devised workarounds and solutions for many of the challenges that came our way, and are improving how we work, every day. Let me share a few of our takeaways and learnings:
The understanding of the workplace as a “place” has changed quite a bit. With distributed team members, Mindcurv is distributing workplaces and is providing smaller hubs with less HQ centricity for work, social and fun events, where people can meet closer to where they live whenever they want. We have already increased the total number of offices from 5 to 13 and are likely to add more to the setup soon to provide maximum flexibility.
We introduced the term physical distancing while the term social distancing was meandering through the news. It is essential to highlight that physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distancing. In a remote-first hybrid setup, we have to make connecting more deliberate, e.g., daily standups to kick off the day or regular check-in rituals per zoom or slack. A few of us have tried silent coworking sessions in a virtual room side by side as well. Virtual after-work sessions were popular initially, but interest waned as the pandemic progressed and zoom fatigue set in. We have learned that it is important to offer variety and that virtual rituals tend to die faster and that you have to reinvent yourself constantly. To be honest: We are glad to be able to meet physically again.
Burnout is one of the most significant risks for remote workers, seesawing in between worrying that we are not doing enough and overworking to prove our value while being less visible to others in the organization. Taking regular breaks and unplugging during non-work hours are examples of what you can do as an individual to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
Create stop-and-go rituals
Whether driving around the block with your car, getting dressed for work, or having a designated workspace that you can leave once you are done for the day will help you get yourself focused and set the proper context.
Fair, transparent, and open communication and respectful work culture with a high degree of autonomy in which everyone can speak up is equally important. If you like what you are doing and can see its purpose, it is much easier to deal with a heavy workload. We’re proud that we managed to keep engagement high, and our engagement scores did not drop despite all the changes introduced.
When working remotely, it is more likely that you are working in different environments and contexts. Spend time explaining to people the context you are currently in. Misinterpretation is more likely to happen as body language and tone are missing. Providing context in your messaging can help overcome those shortcomings and leave less room for interpretation and insecurity. Explaining why you need something is vital to create purpose and inclusion so that no one feels confused and excluded.
Meetings can be harder to manage in a remote or hybrid environment. If one is remote, move to a one-person per screen setup for everyone else to increase inclusion. It is hard enough for that one person to be left alone once everyone else goes out for lunch together. Usually, the one remote person is left out and feels invisible once a lively discussion emerges. Consider establishing Round-robins to increase inclusion, make sure everyone is heard, and don´t forget to build in time for small talk.
We realized that some things are always better done onsite. This goes for the difficult conversations, or larger, interactive meetings that we also had to practice remotely, but is also the case for team lunches, which are less fun virtually, or the celebration of remote Christmas.
This was when we planned a virtual escape room game, including breakout sessions for more than 300 people; all hell broke loose, and chaos ensued. Somehow one of the groups managed to solve all the riddles and escape, leaving the others puzzled. With that exercise, it became very clear that you have to keep things simple.
A scavenger hunt as part of one of the following meetings turned out to be a fun choice. A game in which participants had to search for defined objects in their own house. Simple and fun.
But, not remote Christmas. Never again. Sigh.
Now that we have become more distributed, we want to offer more regular events to bring our people together. After two years of enforced hiatus, our legendary anniversary events will remain, probably even more glorious. Frequent interactions between members through daily standups, cafeteria get-togethers, and one-to-ones in a pre-pandemic workplace provided an essential locus for a balanced coworking ecosystem and seamless project delivery.
At the pandemic’s beginning, one of our biggest concerns was a negative impact on project and service delivery. Still, every one put in the effort to make sure that everything that went out the door matched the quality that Mindcurv always delivers.
Changing Workplaces of the Future
Although hybrid work is the norm, the exact details of how often members work from home or office are not rigid at the moment. We are looking at an on-demand collaboration: members primarily work from their comfort but come to the office whenever needed.
Now, almost all our members work remotely, at least to some degree. Some drop into the office because they need a change of scenery; others hop in or offline events or just say hi once in a while. Teams meet to have sessions together or go out for team lunches. Fewer commutes gave many members more time to spend with their families. Flexibility to work from home lets them make time for themselves and rediscover hobbies.
Companies should have gained sufficient experience to create a functioning and engaging work environment in the last two years. Still, quite a few are considering or have already started to restrict or withdraw their remote policies.
The work mindset of team members at Mindcurv, on the other hand, has undergone a massive shift. The pandemic has pushed us to question and rethink old patterns and behaviors and we believe that the future of work needs to see even more innovation ensuring inclusion in the workplace – wherever we will be. This is part of why creating a remote-first workplace is part of our vision for the future of work.
We are on a journey to optimize our workplaces for the future. We are learning and unlearning how we still need to mature to realize our vision. We are going ahead with our quest to become a genuinely remote-first hybrid workplace and make work life better for our members!
Now it’s your turn to share your story of remote working. What went well? What could have been better? We love to get to know your experiences and insights, learnings, mistakes, and success stories of working from home.
Global People Operations Manager
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