Here’s How to Make Flexible Work Work for Your Organization
Our vision at Whereby is a future where "anywhere" works.
At Whereby, we believe in the power of distributed work – not only for our customers, but for our team too. We’re taking our own medicine and finding ways to build a remote-first company that allows our team to manage how they work, when they work, and where they work.
Working from everywhere also means when we do our work becomes less critical. This is because we have people working from California to Czech Republic, it simply doesn't make sense to require everyone to strictly work from 9 to 5 where they are.
For this reason, we’ve adopted a flexible working approach, and are "hours agnostic".
What exactly does that mean?
At its core, hours agnostic is a working schedule that allows our team to choose when to start and end their workday, and/or how long to take their breaks.
We use our overarching policy to guide us and treat each of one our colleagues like adults and, crucially, we Trust Trust.
This means we do not:
Track or log hours
Monitor team whereabouts
Measure a team member’s contribution by the time they spend online
But it also means we expect our team to:
Manage their time wisely
Communicate their availability effectively and efficiently for those they work with
Alert their team lead if they feel they're working unsustainable hours
Default to asynchronous communications wherever and whenever possible
Measure our team members by the impact they have, not the time they spend online
Flexibility: A double-edged sword ⚔️
Working this way can be incredible. You can go for a long lunch on a sunny day, you can meet your children after school, you can wake up later or log off earlier. It allows you to have the flexibility that suits your life best.
BUT, when everyone is flexible, it means that compromises will have to be made. And sometimes those compromises can be at odds with our personal preferences.
For instance, if you prefer to wake up at 11am every day, but the rest of the team wants to do a weekly meeting at 9am, this means you will have to be flexible and open to ways to make that work.
Similarly if you have a team in a timezone several hours behind you, you may find yourself on some calls in your evening.
This doesn't mean you should work unsustainable hours. But it does mean that you may need to sacrifice some of your flexibility to allow others to exercise theirs.
For hours agnostic and work from anywhere to truly work, this is the minimum expected respect for others, and without this bi-directional flexibility, any company’s approach to distributed work is simply not sustainable.
No set hours
Our team works from all over the globe and we do not hire based on timezone. We will, however, double check that our incoming team members are happy to work flexibly with the other timezones we already work with.
For example: If we require a Customer Support Advisor to cover the Euro region, we will be more than happy to hire someone in Australia, as long as they are comfortable with the fact that they will likely need to work in the evenings. (Some more examples below!)
How this works at Whereby: Not set hours
While we don’t have set hours, we do, however, have set days. We expect each of our full-time team members to work a five day week.
No set hours means you can log on at 11am, work until 4pm, and then go on a long lunch, before checking in again at 9pm for a few hours.
It also means you can log on at 7am and off again at 3pm, wrapping your day up early.
But for this to truly work successfully, you need to:
Be mindful: As a remote worker, you have a responsibility to think of others around the world when you book your meetings. Don't book meetings at 8am just because you’re an early-riser, ask others what may work and find a solution that is respectful to the needs of the group.
Be consistent: To the best of your ability, try to maintain a somewhat regular schedule, or become very good at communicating your fluctuations.
Examples of how flexible work works in practice
Afuwa prefers to wake up around 6am, she is an early-riser and has young children at home. Because she does the daycare run each day, she likes to log off twice each day: once at 9am for 2 hours, and again at 2pm for 3 hours.
This means she is generally online and working:
Monday to Friday
6am to 9am: 3 hours
11am to 2pm: 3 hours
5pm to 6.30pm: 1.5 hours
She keeps this in her calendar each day so others can see her availability and when she is around for Whereby meetings.
Renate lives right on a ski-field in Norway. She generally works a pretty standard week, logging on around 8.30am and off around 5pm each day, depending how she feels. However, sometimes the mood gets her and she wants to go out and enjoy the snow. On these days, she logs off after giving her team some notice and works a few hours later the following day.
Every now and then, her team will ask her to contribute to something which she'd rather do on the weekend. On these occasions, she logs on for a few hours on Saturday, and then makes sure to log off early a few days the following week so she can make the most of the slopes 🏂
Elliott is a late-riser. They are based in Budapest but work with a team that’s largely based in the US. They love the arrangement, and prefer to wake up later and start work around 12noon CET each day. This means they generally work in the evening and log off around 8 or 9pm.
Sometimes team members like to have afternoon catch ups, and find themselves online until midnight. On those days, they make sure to log off earlier the following evening to get some rest.