Bronwyn Le Grice | Founder, CEO, Managing Director, ANDHealth
2020 has been a year like no other. As the structures and norms of our work and home lives have crumbled in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild and recreate a different type of workplace and a fundamentally different employer-employee relationship.
Since inception, ANDHealth has had a flexible working policy, with our focus being on open communication and outcomes. However; pre-COVID most members of the team still preferred the office, which created a dichotomy between those working remotely and the team members gathering together in the office. As a CEO who worked remotely 50% of the time and who also had a hefty travel burden, this impacted the relationship between myself and the team, but also the relationships between full time office workers and other remote and part time employees.
Our flexible working policies and embedded collaborative technology stack (not to mention we were early adopters of Zoom) positioned us extremely well for a swift pivot to fully remote working, and the outcomes achieved over the year have embedded in us the belief that we can create our own “new normal” as we (hopefully) move out of the pandemic itself.
So what have we learnt this year:
We can do this! ANDHealth programs have been oversubscribed due to better accessibility in a virtual format and we’ve adapted all content to deliver engaging and interactive sessions incorporating breakout sessions and small group/1-1 coaching.
Balance is key. Working virtually has an intensity and ability to cause burnout within the team if it is not managed. We’ve all had the weeks with 30 zoom meetings and realised that that’s not sustainable so we need to be cautious with our time and energy, and that of others.
Productivity is more important than place. Ironically, in a remote-first environment staff productivity and output becomes clearer. The visual impression of work is removed, and replaced by quantifiable outcomes – are projects/ outputs delivered on time at an acceptable quality. Has the team pulled together to deliver joint projects? Are team members happy and engaged? Is the business growing? All of this is more important, and become more obvious when visual cues are removed.
Communication is critical. We treat our zoom rooms as if they are old fashioned offices. People can knock on the door (so to speak) and come in for a chat. As a team we communicate more frequently and more broadly in a virtual setting than many teams in physical environments. At the same time how we engage is underpinned by mutual respect and acknowledgement of the value of each person’s time.
So, What’s our New Normal?
Remote First. From October 1, 2020 ANDHealth is now officially a remote-first organisation. We have retained a small ANDHealth “hub” within the existing offices at WeWork, but dramatically reduced the footprint to a single 2 person office. This provides a workspace for those that cannot work from home or who are in the city for other purposes, and retains our access to WeWork’s facilities on an as-needed basis. It also frees up a significant amount of cash flow… for…
Monthly Creative & Collaborative Sprints. In place of our physical office the ANDHealth team (when restrictions allow) will be gathering monthly to run facilitated creative and collaborative sprints around strategy, planning and key projects and programs. These will be held off-site – either in the city, with members or as a 2 day residential team building session. We’re taking those rent dollars and investing them in our team and our business.
The 35 Hour Work Week. Remote working is intense, but so is life. What we believe is that the best employees bring their whole human to work…. and whole humans have lives. In acknowledgement of the high levels of productivity and commitment the ANDHealth team have, we looked at the data and decided that giving people a bit more time and a bit more flexibility would only benefit us in the long run. So from 1 October, our full time folks will work a 70 hour fortnight – giving them a few more hours to look after their health, their families or just to enjoy life. (Let us know if you’re interested in seeing the data on 9 day fortnights and 4 day weeks we used to reach this decision).
I couldn’t be prouder of the ANDHealth team’s performance this year, and am delighted to be continuing to innovate within our business to become an employer of choice. Our business is only as good as our staff, and hopefully with these strategies we will go on to continue to attract the best and brightest of talent in 2021.