Working without distances has been a major challenge to address the transformations we are living. Everything happened from one hour to the next and there was no time to test the model, change the culture, look for the technology, be able to measure the results. It was all at a speed never seen. But with this “imposition” many companies finally realized that it is indeed possible to work in a different way. In a 100% digital or hybrid mode. Now is the time to learn from mistakes, improve what’s necessary and delve into what’s missing. For a virtual workplace that really works.
Towards an environment in which we no longer distinguish whether it is virtual or physical. Evolving in the concept of community, in technology, in culture, in data. To unify things. So that those in the physical office do not feel preferred and those in the digital office do not feel neglected. Everyone has access to the same practices, connects in the same way.
Topics covered in this blog article:
- Redefining the concept of being present in the company
- But do virtual workplace platforms really work?
- Reinventing culture
- What should come first, culture or technology?
- The role of data and how it also has to do with technology and culture
- Wrap-up: what you can’t forget to succeed
Redefining the concept of being present in the company
People are undoubtedly the most important asset in an organization. To thrive in the global economy, they need access to the best talent. Restricting to those who are physically close does not make sense anymore. Not giving an opportunity to those who value the freedom and flexibility to be where they want, choose their environment, manage their time, neither. What should matter is the profile of each one, the willingness to evolve, to collaborate and perform. Without barriers, without limits. That’s why the concept of being present in the company needs to be reframed. Being present in the company means being online on a virtual workplace platform.
This is different from simply using a video conferencing tool. It takes much more to create a sense of belonging and community. You need to have a platform that leverages it and that is the primary means of communication for everyone. Both those sitting side by side and those in the digital office. For “democratic” communication. And with the added possibility of exploring, discovering, knowing who the people of the company are, what are the areas, which are the teams. Interacting with any colleague in just one click, don’t just be limited to everyday peers. Everything is graphically represented in the virtual workplace, the online building where everyone meets and is together. Divided by rooms, each one with a personal avatar, being able to circulate as in the real world. This helps to make tangible a holistic view of the company, to bring a more humanized approach and to re-signify “being present”.
But do virtual workplace platforms really work? InStation as proof
First, for a virtual workplace platform to work, it must bring value to the various ecosystem elements. It must provide an excellent experience for the user and the teams. It must make sense for HR that will integrate people, understand behavior, have new arguments for attraction and retention. It must have Financial benefits as is the case of space/resources optimization and productivity. And simplify Operations that can better organize and manage the squads.
InStation brings all this to Invillia. It is our official headquarters. The proof that a virtual workplace platform really works. It’s where we connect 550+ talents to innovate and create disruptive digital products for global game-changers. From the place they chose to live. And is now available to any company.
But the platform needs to be combined with a fit-to-purpose culture. In fact, InStation was developed precisely to respond to a new distributed work culture. Which has different practices, ways of thinking and acting. In an evolutionary process, in which the insights it provides are also critical for improving the culture.
How to maintain culture in a virtual workplace environment? Let’s break the big picture. We have 3 layers. The people layer. The company structure layer. And the culture layer. What will culture say? How these people relate, how they interact. If there are just several people in separate places or if they are a true community. The work starts at the first layer. Only people who is prepared or wants to be prepared to live this culture, should enter the structure. The platform connects the 3 layers, it’s the meeting point. And how does it work inside? This is the cultural part; it has to do with practices. If there’s something we learned throughout the years is that we cannot have different practices for remote and physical employees. It’s a division you create. All practices need to be common and revamped to digital.
For instance, at Invillia people gathered once a month for the cake day, more than 30kg to celebrate birthdays. Only who was in the office could participate. How is this done today? On the platform. People can go there to congratulate, to make an “online party”, everyone is notified, and the birthday person has a sum in the app to celebrate as he/she wishes. It changed the cultural practice of that physical moment to another with more flexibility and in which the individual, the person is at the core. And there are other situations more directed to the whole. Our #WellnessAtHome initiative is one such case, we recently had a visit from a nutritionist in our InStation coffee room to speak and answer our team’s questions about healthy eating, well-being. One of these days we organized a webinar with an expert from the USA to share knowledge about design thinking. Examples are infinite and the sky is the limit. Regarding social responsibility, we had an English school within the physical company. Children in need came from the institutions and went there to learn. What have we done now? We offered these children 15 computers and they study from home. We will continue with classes but providing another experience. Gamification is also great to encourage and enhance this mindset. At Invillia we have a thermometer. Whoever participates in the community’s agendas generates food for charities. All of this contributes to creating a concept of community, with self-discipline, in a culture without borders. You can’t copy and paste, you need to reinvent.
What should come first, culture or technology?
Making an analogy, let’s imagine that culture is the engine/the car, people are the fuel and technology is what paves the asphalt. If you don’t have a platform, you are on the dirt road. It comes to run it all together, better, faster, connecting the dots. In our case, culture came first. The platform came to address the pains we were experiencing. That is why InStation is different from other tools and can help companies accelerate the whole process. It was specifically designed with a distributed culture in mind.
What we suggest is to start slowly, learn and move forward. By some departments or meeting rooms. In this case, “close” all physical rooms and take advantage of the space for other things. And hold meetings only on the platform. Everyone gets used to using phones, even when they are next to one or more participants. It immediately breaks the difference. Then add new areas, new people. The platform provides conditions for experimenting. Culture is where you see problems, and act accordingly. Technology supports all changes. The data generated, its analysis, allows to do it based on facts and not intuitions.
The role of data and how it also has to do with technology and culture
From the moment you are in a virtual workplace, you are leaving digital tracks. Data collection does not depend on direct user action. It is done automatically. In the case of InStation, it is a hub, integrating different tools and allowing working in the form of dimensions. How is the collective online behavior of people? The level of engagement, collaboration, happiness? Bringing insights, rich dashboards. From these dimensions of data, you have an environment of interpretation and identification of cause and effect. A mathematical model to extract metrics for continuous improvement. Both collective/individual and the culture itself. And it has nothing to do with control. What matters is how data can contribute to evolution, to new enhancements. It has to do with transparency. Artificial Intelligence also allows you to act proactively when any deviation in the pattern of behavior is detected. Identify trends, parameters. Everyone has access to metrics that make sense in each case and that allow to improve performance, engagement, teamwork. Everyone can collect data. The way you are going to bring this to people is what makes the difference.
Wrap-up: what you can’t forget to succeed in a virtual workplace
We emphasize four things:
- Establish a unique platform as the meeting point for the whole team (physical or remote), where everyone is connected, collaborating, engaging and performing united in a common purpose
- Don’t try to adapt but reinvent the culture for a distributed work model. With equal practices for everyone, whether in the physical or virtual environment
- Use metrics as a guide for continuous improvement. These data exist naturally from the team’s work, using the platform and the day-to-day tools
- Test and learn from mistakes. Talking a lot with the team, reinforcing proximity, upgrading practices. Choosing the right people, taking care, evolving soft/tech skills and giving attention all the time.
Are you in?_
That’s it! We hope the article inspires you and your company in this challenging journey! What have been your experiences? Share in the comments. We all can learn with each other 🙂