A remote friendly model providing flexibility for our people who want to work where they are most productive married with additional opportunities for increased connection and collaboration.
Designing a return to office plan in the middle of a global pandemic can feel like building tracks for a moving train. No matter what industry an organization is in, decision makers have had to be extremely diligent, strategic, and thoughtful about creating a working structure. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we at Softheon work, but our leadership understands we need a structure that supports team needs, is effective for productivity, and focuses on employee safety. Some companies have been firm in requiring their employees to return to the office, while others are choosing to remain fully remote or implementing a hybrid working model with employees coming into the office on certain predetermined days. There is no “one size fits all” working structure for companies, but as we move forward with Softheon’s Hybrid-Working model, we want to share our mission statement, our model, and our plan for our employees.
From the start, our mission has been to foster a safe and efficient transition plan for employee return to office. Insisting on cross-team connectivity and collaboration, we have designed and will be implementing a hybrid working model that is organized, thoughtful, and creative, keeping our employees’ well-being at the forefront of every decision made.
To design a hybrid plan specifically for Softheon’s teams, we utilized an employee survey. The results allowed us to better understand our people’s needs and wants in the hybrid model. The results of the survey indicated that our team felt productive in a remote setting, but many were missing the social interactions of being in the office – the organic “water cooler” moments that are very hard to replicate in virtual meetings. There was also a desire for more opportunities for in-person collaboration such as whiteboarding or brainstorming sessions both for teams and collaboration cross-functionally. So, in the spirit of solving for yes, we took the feedback provided by our teams and, with thorough research on possible options, designed a creative and new hybrid-working model. We believe the model serves Softheon as a business and supports the well-being of our team.
We have structured a three-tier working model consisting of the company the team members and individual levels. The model will help us to accomplish everything that will be valuable such as providing the much-desired flexibility of working remotely and increased connection and collaboration opportunities.
#1. Company Level
At the company level, we will introduce what we’re calling “NHT Town Hall Day”. This is a monthly re-occurring in-office day in which all team members reporting to Denver HQ are present in the office*. We’ve asked managers to plan meetings for their teams that will benefit from time together in-person, scheduled our monthly all-hand meetings to coincide with the town hall, and will plan a fun social event at the end of the day. Our main motivation for this monthly day together in-office is to create an opportunity for colleagues to connect and do what Softheon does best: innovate and problem solve.
#2. Team Level
Next, the team level is based on the needs of each departmental team. Managers will work in tandem with their team to set clear expectations for other times their employees will need to come into the office.
In addition to department in-office time, there may be certain meetings that will be planned cross-functionally in office. Manager and/or the meeting planner will own this allowing input from meeting attendees. We look here again to provide flexibility to our teams at NHT to be together physically when it would be valuable for them.
We know each team has different needs for in-office time together. Therefore, by decentralizing that decision-making to the team level, we ensure our teams are empowered to make decisions about what will work best for their group vs. arbitrarily mandating that employees work in office on certain days.
#3. Individual Level
The last level in the three-tier structure is the individual level. Besides Town Hall Day and team time in the office, we have provided all employees the option to work out of the HQ office OR work remotely as is suitable for their lifestyle. Some of our team members indicated they would benefit from working away from their home and we strive for inclusive options for all out people. Again, we want to provide our team the flexibility and be intentional about using time in the office.
We are launching this model as a pilot program and the first Softheon Town Hall Day will be in October. We will continue to monitor CDC and state guidelines, but we are looking forward to being together in-office again!
*We understand our employees may have conflicts on the day of the NHT Town Hall Day like a vacation, illness or other circumstances. Employees can speak with their manager about missing the town hall day and/or virtually attending.