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A New Work Ecosystem for the Future

This article was based on episode 201 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get a detailed diagram that explains GOJO’s work ecosystem when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.

Many organizations have been struggling to design their future ways of working since offices began reopening their doors. Even as we feel safer returning to work, it’s clear that employees expect more flexible and remote options, meaning virtual and hybrid work contexts are here to stay. As managers, we need to reimagine how our tools and spaces can enable teams to thrive in this new work ecosystem.

GOJO Industries is an amazing example of a company that pivoted to an entirely new hybrid operating system, which they refer to as their work ecosystem. Even before the pandemic began, GOJO recognized that they had outgrown their ways of working. They spent the past two years learning, piloting, and reinventing how work gets done. Emily Baunach Esterly, head of GOJO’s Work Ecosystem and Employee Experience, joins me to explain this new approach that has revolutionized their company operations.

THE FOUR ROLE TYPES OF HYBRID WORK PLACES

Emily and her team at GOJO understood that with hybrid work ecosystems, there’s no one size fits all approach. Through research and learning sessions with current employees, they decided upon four role types grounded in the job to be done; mostly onsite, mostly virtual, blended weekly, and blended monthly. Each role has an expected amount of time for the employee to work in the office. The remainder of the time, the employee works remotely at a location of their choosing. One of the benefits of this role type approach is that it simply looks at the facilities and equipment needed in order to complete the work, rather than emphasizing personal preference. This can simplify the team expectations so that managers don’t need to engage in constant debates or adjustments with colleagues about how and where they work.

  1. Mostly Onsite: Mostly Onsite workers spend about 80% of their time in the office. They are people who need access to special equipment or facilities, or those who provide supervision of other Mostly Onsite staff.

  2. Mostly Virtual: Mostly Virtual workers can do 80% of their work from anywhere as long as they have access to a computer and internet.

  3. Blended Weekly: Blended Weekly workers come into the office about 40-60% of the time. They may need a mix of special equipment or facilities and computer time, or they do work that is highly collaborative and done more effectively or efficiently when in person.

  4. Blended Monthly: Blended Monthly workers only need to come into the office once or twice a month, to partake in experiences that are best done in person. This includes activities such as multi-hour project kick offs and key relationship-building exercises.

Although employee preference is not a primary consideration, individuals who have extenuating circumstances that make it hard for them to work remotely can coordinate with their manager to work primarily on site.

COLLABORATION REQUIRES HYBRID MEETINGS

With team members now working from home and on site, hybrid meetings are here to stay. Even for teams with Mostly Onsite roles, Emily notes that hybrid meetings are inevitable. Someone will need to call in to a meeting because their child is home sick, they’re stuck in traffic, or a million other reasons. We need be prepared so that a change in plans doesn’t limit participation.

Even if you’re hoping that everyone can be at a meeting in person, Emily suggests designing it as a hybrid meeting from the start. Think through what types of equipment and interactions you will need to make the hybrid meeting a success. One option is to have additional screens in the conference room so that each person calling in can be viewed on a single screen. This helps make it feel like they’re in the room with you. Another suggestion is to invest in good conference calling equipment with multiple microphones. The in-person group then calls in on a single line while joining the video conference from their individual laptop. This ensures good audio quality and a clear view of each person for those joining remotely. Emily reminds us that we need to think about both the in person and remote experience so that we optimize the meeting for everyone.

START WITH SMALL STEPS

If you’re curious about how to move towards more sustainable hybrid work practices, start with incorporating better digital collaboration tools for day-to-day teamwork. Upgrade your document storage and file sharing practices. Make sure to be using live links rather than sending attachments so your colleagues can collaborate asynchronously. Gather input through commenting and editing shared documents and survey tools rather than defaulting to meetings all the time. As you look at your digital practices and adjust them, you can start to identify what needs to happen onsite versus what can be handled remotely.

A work ecosystem is all about optimizing the right tools at the right times so that people can flourish and work can be done effectively. Consider the various role types your team or organization has. What work needs to be done on site versus done from anywhere? Hybrid work solutions, when done thoughtfully, will lead to more flexible work schedules and effective remote teaming. Hybrid work is our future. The only question is: how is your team going to embrace it?

KEEP UP WITH EMILY

Website: www.gojo.com

Get a detailed diagram that explains GOJO’s work ecosystem when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.

This article was based onepisode 201 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify,iHeart Radio,Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

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