Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
When the pandemic hit, companies felt like they were wading into uncharted waters. Remote working seemed like a new strategy for most, but many companies have been investing in creating the necessary framework and precedent for years. At a time when few were paying attention to decentralized models, dozens of companies were building themselves from the ground up with no physical location, showing us that remote operations were possible. In addition, many great corporate cultures have been preserved.
In the face of lockdowns, sports fans have also had to adapt. New behaviors have been incorporated. The usual huge spectator arenas, crowds of tailgaters and superbowl parties – these fans couldn’t get together to watch the same way and had to adapt. They turned to other avenues that might not have been as popular before and laid the groundwork for new spaces, mostly digital. These might not represent the usual experiences, but fans found ways to continue enjoying the sport and new ideas came through.
The same change in behavior played out in the work culture. Businesses that support remote business only thrive because they are responsive to people’s needs. To thrive in a decentralized work environment, listen to your employees instead of trying to mimic your old office environment in this new normal.
needs and wishes
Before the pandemic, people confused these two core business concepts, often casually lumping them together with slang that mixes the two. A person might say, “I to need being in an office,” but that, we found, is mostly a want. Officeless companies have adapted, and at Butchershop Global we have adapted with them many otherNobody discovered that necessary to be in an office at all. And while needs should be satisfied first, desires are also important, and both require constant balance; If needs are widespread enough in a changing environment, they can eventually become needs.
So re-evaluate concepts like “decentralization,” “remote,” and “hybrid” by putting them in separate areas based on the needs and wants of the current environment, and change your relationship to the concept of location—consider moving on to focus on creating “opportunities”. instead of this. We don’t need an office, but decentralization was less about never seeing each other without one and more about asking people when they really need to see each other and then designing opportunities to do so. Right now we are developing pod spaces with lower costs and impact: We have 1,000 square meter hubs in accessible cities to support event-driven needs with places for co-planning.
Related: Harness the power of turning points
Listen and adapt
Before the events of 2020, it was easy to get stuck in behaviors…stuck in old patterns, but the pandemic has shown us that we can adapt to survive when faced with forces beyond our control. Wearing masks, social distancing, regulating our movements and getting our children to school — if we are being forced to change, we now (and without a doubt) know we can. And once we let the adaptation come through, we realized how new ways of doing things can be better. So instead of trying to emulate location-based workflows, create the opportunities employees want and need by listening to them and implementing new strategies.
Part of this listening process is assessing friction points—where people are struggling. Go from one to the next, eliminate them or replace them with a solution. For example, without an office, we found it difficult for employees to get expenses approved; They bore the immediate financial burden of new equipment, setting up a home office, or paying an Uber to meet with the team, and waited to get a refund a month later. We all agreed it was painful, so our solution was to give everyone a corporate credit card with their own limits and permissions (for some of our junior designers, it was their first). Realizing that they could make decisions and ask for help much more quickly and easily brought everyone closer, although we were still far away, and the credit card policy was simple: “Do not harm the company.”
Related: Employee experience matters more than ever. Here’s how to increase it.
culture and clarity
Company culture is both a desire and a necessity, and a great one is absolutely necessary to be successful. Maintaining it is one of the biggest challenges of decentralization. Businesses need to create new scenarios to replace the thousands of micro-interactions that take place in an office. During the pandemic, I wrote about 427 emails — one every night at 5 a.m. — to signal the end of the day. I recently took two guys from our team who happened to be in town to a Golden State Warriors basketball game.
Without moments at the water cooler or salads at lunch, it’s important to assess how to fill the bucket with the interactions a culture requires. However, rather than replacing them with virtual replicas, focus on big moments that keep employees reservoirs fueled longer. Without the need to pay for expensive offices, it’s possible to use the money saved to design new projects that promote an occasion-based culture. We came up with the idea for a Branded Summit and asked everyone what they would prefer: get together in an office every day or a big trip for a few days in Puerto Vallarta or Costa Rica. People preferred the summit to the office and spent months filling their bucket of interactions while discussing how they were looking forward to the trip and talking about it afterwards. Of our 150 employees, interactions on Slack increased by 3,000% among those who hadn’t previously chatted with each other.
A key factor in any transition from “what we were” to “what we want to be” is clarity. With clarity, people do what they need to do. So explain how and why action is needed to move the business forward, and back it up with facts. And as you move from initiative to initiative, show that you want progress, not perfection, every time. Establish plans for change, why you think they need to be made, what they should look like, and how you plan to help the team make them happen, then evaluate fact-based results against your people’s data. Has the change made employees happier? Did it make them feel better or worse about the company or its leadership? Rethink metrics like efficiency and productivity by supporting employee needs, and they will respond by wanting to make the business better.
Related: Decentralization: The history of successful companies is changing
Decentralization changes many things, but when done right, these changes can be for the better, attracting more diverse talent, happier employees, and a booming business.