Remote work has always been a heavily debated topic, especially among HR professionals, who frequently face challenges that relate to employee productivity and development. There’s pressure to figure out how employees can achieve peak performance, and how managers can enable productivity.
At Bynder, we’re always looking for ways to spark creativity and enhance productivity, and this past summer was no different. For the second year in a row we held a global Remote Week, where we closed all of our offices and encouraged employees to work from anywhere. Bynder launched its first Remote Week for two reasons:
- To encourage employees to actually use their benefits, and not be afraid that management will look down on them for doing so. Benefits like unlimited vacation time and the ability to work from home look great on paper, but there’s a hesitancy (especially in the U.S.) around actually using them.
- To test the power of our tech stack, and learn more about how collaboration within Bynder works and what we can do to make working remotely an even better experience.
Bynder is a global company, with more than 350 employees spread across seven global offices. From Amsterdam to Boston to San Mateo, our company is connected around the clock. Working remotely has always been a part of our culture, but for the most part, our employees tend to work out of our offices. Nearly 60 percent of our employees reported that working remotely was not a part of their regular schedule.
After a successful first edition of Remote Week, we knew it was something we should try again, while taking into consideration the lessons we learned. For example, our employees missed having spaces to meet, so this year we partnered with WeWork to offer a place they could go to meet with co-workers.
This year our employees worked from all over the place. One employee said Remote Week allowed him to rediscover Amsterdam, as he was always in search of new spots to work from. Another felt it was the perfect opportunity to schedule visits and meetings at clients’ offices.
After running a company-wide experiment and survey, a few key takeaways emerged. The reality is there’s never a great time to be out of the office, especially at a fast-growing company. But that doesn’t mean employees should feel chained to their desks. Some people work best when surrounded by lively co-workers, while others prefer a quieter space. Embracing remote work is more than just telling your employees to work from home. There needs to be a structure in place for them to do so, and employees should feel encouraged to utilize the benefits that are offered to them.
Employees Felt Happier and More Productive
Seventy percent of our employees said they felt happy and relaxed when working from home during Remote Week, and nearly 40 percent said they felt more productive and focused. Those who felt more productive cited the quiet of their home and the flexibility to get things done as major benefits. For some, the office is great for collaborative tasks but too noisy or distracting for work that requires more focus.
This is one reason why workplace flexibility is so important — it’s about acknowledging that not everyone works the same way, and about finding solutions to help maximize everyone’s productivity. Sometimes you need to take a walk to ignite that creative spark and get your best work done.
Commuting Causes Stress and Wasted Time
An overwhelming number of our employees felt one of the best benefits of working remotely was that they were able to save time and money by not commuting. To many, the daily commute is an anchor on their work day, causing stress that hinders productivity — when really it should be a time to mentally prepare or debrief from the day. Our employees felt that when they didn’t have to commute, they saved hours that could be spent catching up on work, enjoying a personal hobby or being with family and friends.
Communication Is Key
As one of our employees put it, “Communicate. Overcommunicate. People can choose what they take away, and it’s better they have too much information than not enough.”
A sizeable number of our employees felt the key to building trust with team members was to communicate and be readily available. This is where the tech tools we’ve implemented at Bynder come in handy. When we asked our employees what tools they found useful to communicate, 88.5 percent cited Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack. These are all tools that Bynder provides employees for daily use, which demonstrates how important it is to invest in tools that enable effective communication. Our employees also felt daily virtual meetups and regular check-ins were essential, and served as an alternative for the invaluable face time that usually occurs in the office every day.
A Number of Employees Missed Their Co-Workers
A good number of employees stressed the value of face-to-face communication, and felt that no tools can fully replace actually being in a room with someone. A number of employees said they missed seeing their co-workers, and felt that it was useful to be in the same room as someone when working through technical issues or brainstorming ideas. In fact, during Remote Week, 54 percent of Bynder employees actually met with colleagues in person, and 11.5 percent met with clients.
Anticipating Employee Needs Is Important
A full week of working remotely isn’t for everyone. In fact, some of our employees didn’t like working remotely. But that’s the point of offering flexible benefits — it’s all about anticipating the needs of employees and recognizing that what works for one person won’t always work for another.
Our developers are an example: One of the things they missed the most was dual monitors that were available to them in the office, but not at home. On the other hand, our sales and marketing teams had a much easier time adapting to remote work.
Ultimately, some employees thrive in an office environment, while others prefer the peace and quiet of their home to get certain tasks done. With 53 percent of Bynder employees never working remotely on a regular schedule, Remote Week either upended their workflow and pushed them out of their comfort zone, or allowed them to evaluate the way they work.
The reason we asked our employees how they felt about Remote Week is to make sure that we always strive to be better. Implementing change starts from the top, so it’s important that our leadership is as prepared as possible. While we offer all of our employees the ability to work from home, we know there needs to be a structure in place, and that’s something we’re prioritizing here at Bynder.
As we build out our remote-work policies, we’re making sure that they go beyond every individual feeling prepared. We’re going to make sure that our teams, as a whole, have what they need at their disposal. From our developers to our marketing department to our sales team, we will take different needs into consideration as we work to build out a more robust remote-work policy.