The Transition to Virtual and Remote

Earlier this week, we wrote both about the increasing number of companies announcing they will transition to hybrid remote work environments, and about the challenges of managing culture – particularly for hybrid remote businesses which will have to contend with the reality of different employees  getting a different employee experience, and will need to make very deliberate efforts to prevent their remote workers, or partially remote workers from feeling like second class citizens.

Adopting a “Virtual-First” Approach

Businesses are recognising the potential issues with a model that allows employees to be remote as and when they choose – CNNBusiness today reported that Dropbox is moving to what it calls a “virtual-first” model, to avoid the potential issues around exclusion and inequity around career trajectories.

Their “virtual-first” model means that employees will be invited into the office at specific, scheduled points for community events, leadership development training, strategy setting and team building. They intend to completely re-imagine their office environment, removing desks to move away from individual-work and hot-desking and toward multiple collaboration spaces and whiteboard ideation opportunities.

They envisage creating “studios” in cities in which they have large concentration of employees, to facilitate this vision.  Their approach will involve asynchronous communication as their default setting – using slack or email to solve problems and being specific and deliberate about scheduled in-person meetings and scheduled zoom calls.  They’ll also provide a stipend to employees to enable them to purchase space in coworking spaces if they don’t want to or are unable to work from home.

As the transition to remote work models continue, it will be interesting to see how different companies handle this and develop their own unique versions of remote.

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