The new normal: what is that and where to begin?
After a year where the world’s approach to work was turned on its head due to the pandemic, questions are starting to be asked about the “return to the new normal”. How will this look? What do we all want? Having experienced the benefits and challenges of working remotely for a sustained period of time, this is a difficult – but important – question for all businesses to answer. Spoiler alert: there isn’t a right answer to this!
Founda Health's approach
As mentioned, all businesses have to find out what the new normal will look like for them. And Founda is not excluded from that discussion. One of our guiding principles at Founda is 'We are owners'. Everyone is empowered with the information to act and think like an owner when making decisions – everyone’s voice is equal. We also have the freedom to manage our own time so we work at times where we are most effective. So when deciding what the “new way of working” at Founda Health would look like, it was only natural to include everyone in the process. We asked the whole team for input through a company wide survey.
We gathered everyone’s experiences from the last 18 months and also asked them how they saw their working routine once things returned to normal. What went well in the last months? What didn’t? Do they want to return to the office? If so, how many times per week? Do they want to work remotely? What would they need to make this a success?
The response from the team was overwhelmingly positive! It was a question they were all grappling with and they appreciated the opportunity to share their input on this topic and shape the way that we would work together at Founda.
What were the outcomes?
The overwhelming message that came out of the survey is that the team values freedom and flexibility to manage their own time; remote working for Founda Health is something that was desired. At the same time there was also a clamor for more face-to-face interaction – people missed the social contact with their team members. The office should become a place for collaboration with regular events to bring everyone together.
The office as a place for collaboration
To enable our new approach to working to be a success, we came to a few agreements and introduced some new benefits that aligned with our approach to work.
We agreed that our focus would be remote first – this means a minimum of two days per week working remotely – whether from home or another location. This makes work from home the norm and reduces the potential pressure of being visible and in the office. In addition, we provided the team with a budget to spend on their remote work set-up in order to optimize the space or equipment that they may have purchased over the past year.
The office is now a place for collaboration. Although numbers are still limited due to the current restrictions, we have started to make improvements to our space to facilitate this.
Lastly, and most importantly, we built in agreements to protect our mental health. Working remotely, although providing a lot of freedom, can take its toll on your mental health. Taking regular breaks and managing your offline time is extremely important. We changed our vacation policy to make it a minimum of 25 days – this small change has a big impact on the mindset of how people think about and manage their time off.
The conversation continues
This is just the start and we will continue to tweak and build on the “Founda way of working” over time continually, seeking the input of the whole team. As we start to come out of the pandemic the future of work is going to constantly evolve as we readjust to the world around us. To be continued ...