One of my dreams has always been to work in a different country from where I grew up. I never imagined that a global pandemic would be what opened the door to this opportunity, but somehow that’s what happened. After two years of working remote or hybrid due to the pandemic, we’ve all gleaned that: 1) it’s entirely possible to still be productive and collaborative in a remote environment, and 2) there’s still inherent value in the physical workplace.With this in mind, I moved from Envoy’s headquarters in San Francisco to our London office. I landed almost exactly one year since the London office opened its doors and I feel lucky to be here at such an exciting time, focusing on creating great experiences for our customers in Europe. I’m in a unique situation—new country, same company, new phase of the pandemic—and it’s made me think a lot about the complexities of hybrid work around the globe. Here are my three learnings about hybrid work after relocating from the US to the UK.
Learning #1: It’s important to localize your hybrid policy
I made the jump across the pond at a very interesting time. San Francisco was in the middle of dealing with the Omicron variant, while London had peaked weeks ago. So, while our US locations were still shut down, the London office was ready to reopen. This is just one reason why companies should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to their workplace policies. Whether you’re thinking of setting a hybrid work schedule for employees or rolling out health and safety measures, you’ll want to localize the policy for each location. Particularly now that employees around the world are heading into the workplace in droves, workplace leaders should balance a global return to work strategy with the spirit of the specific city. Cultural differences and local regulations may add complexity to the roll-out of your policy, but employees value the attention to detail of the workplace experience. It could be the driving force behind a hybrid employee choosing to work from the office or not.
Learning #2: Safety isn’t just important within the walls of the workplace
Before the pandemic, when I thought about how safety and security fit into the workplace experience it was largely about access control and intellectual property. Now, there’s more importance on health and safety. This doesn’t just include employee health and safety within the four walls of the workplace. We have to become more conscious of what it means to get to and from the office as well. Recently the London team planned a full day of in-person trainings, ending in a team-bonding dinner. Everyone was particularly excited as many of us hadn’t seen each other in months or hadn’t ever met in person (as was the case with me). Unfortunately, Storm Eunice had other plans for the day. Record-setting winds were more than enough to reschedule the event—after all, team safety comes before team bonding. Then, just a few weeks later, London’s transit strikes posed another safety risk and prevented the team from coming on-site. Intense extratropical cyclones and transit strikes aren’t something that I ever had to deal with in San Francisco. This made me realize that employee health and safety is not just about COVID exposure in the office. It’s about providing safe options for employees to maintain their wellbeing, no matter where they work.
Learning #3: Coordinating hybrid schedules leads to intention
Years ago, if I was working on a cross-functional project, I knew at some point I would run into the person I needed to pair with. I likely knew exactly where they sat within the office and what time they typically arrived. In a 100% remote environment, that type of spontaneous interaction isn’t possible. One of the great benefits of hybrid work is being able to see your colleagues in person again. But that only works if you can coordinate hybrid schedules. With hybrid work, it’s important to know who will be in the office at the same time as you to capitalize on collaboration. Encouraging team days or in-person working sessions has added a layer of purpose to our time in the office. I know why I’m coming in on a specific day and how I should prepare because I know who will be there with me. This means that I can spend my work-from-home days on more heads-down, strategic work. This type of intention leads to incredible productivity.—I’ve been with Envoy for over four years now and have seen many different working models. In San Francisco alone, I’ve worked in-office five days a week, fully remote, and hybrid. I’ve visited other hubs across the United States. And now, I’m working hybrid in London with a team that works across the United Kingdom. I’m thankful to work at a company that has not only embraced the hybrid work model but has built a platform to help companies optimize hybrid work for their people worldwide.