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Switchee Culture

The New Hybrid Working at Switchee

With office life looking likely to return to normal, Olya explains what Switchee is doing to make a new hybrid working schedule work for the whole company.

Olya Yakzhina
Olya Yakzhina

May 27, 2021

Everyone has probably heard a little about Hybrid Working as a new concept that allows people to combine the flexibility of working from home with an office space reserved for them when they need it. We wanted to touch on some benefits of working this way for our team at Switchee as well as the future talent joining us. We are delighted to be sharing this with the world as we know more and more companies are considering following this path to standardise flexible working post-pandemic following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Our story
From the very beginning, Switchee has truly been a flexible business. Some of our first meetings were remote, with people dialing in from different places around England. Fast forward a few years and we found ourselves with a close-knit team visiting the office for a few days a week, while having the flexibility of working from home when they needed to. 

People at Switchee have always had the flexibility to work the hours they needed to be their most productive selves. The last 12 months have only reinforced the habits already learned and the remote working skills already acquired. It was simple to transition to a fully-remote arrangement during the many lockdowns and restrictions. However, now is the time to move on and figure out which parts of our experience we enjoyed and which we should improve.

Our focus & learnings
Our focus has always been on ensuring that everyone at Switchee, no matter the seniority or role, has enough flexibility and control over their schedule. The way we managed this during the last 12 months was minimal - we simply trusted our people to choose what, where and when worked best for them to be most productive in their roles.

We learned that this approach was most effective when people had the opportunity and headspace to prioritise their tasks and ensure their schedules were not overwhelmed. We ran a few workshops with the team on prioritisation, time management techniques and even brought in a neuropsychologist speaker for one of our Lunch & Learn events to tell us about our brain’s capacities and how we could look after ourselves better when approaching our busy working lives. 

To any company out there looking to adopt full remote working or a hybrid way of working with remote-first practices in place, we recommend you ensure that your people are supported thoroughly and empowered to manage their schedules in a way that would make their workload positively challenge them rather than burn them out. 

On top of that, we recommend listening to your people’s needs as everyone is going to need different things to feel most fulfilled at work. At Switchee we collected feedback about the full-remote working through various questionnaires and wellbeing 1:1s. 

We discovered that while remote working had many benefits for our team, such as spending more time with the family, no wasted time on commutes, being able to socialise with people from different cities and countries better, etc. They lacked the simple “change of scenery” and the sense of community. These are the things we directly tackled when it came to developing our new way of hybrid working.

How we Hybrid
The hybrid working model can be described as the “middle ground” between the all-remote and the 5-day-a-week in an office arrangement. Within the hybrid working arrangements, our team has the flexibility to:

  • work from the office on certain days 
  • book a permanent desk 
  • choose to work remotely as and when that suits

We set Remote First Routines to support ourselves while operating virtually. This involved setting out most of our regular company events as “forever remote” in our calendars. This includes our team huddles/scrum meetings, Friday Drinks & Games, and weekly all-hands meetings.

To balance those out, we’ve selected some other regular events to be Face to Face. These events are not mandatory but our team are very interested in attending them:

  • Quarterly 2 Day Retreats
  • Annual Working Away Week 
  • Lunch & Learn (also live-streamed for remote workers).

Of course there are many more events that may be happening around Switchee aside from the ones we shared above. We encourage people to assess on their own whether those should be virtual or face-to-face. Our motto is “empower yourself to be productive”. If people feel most productive at home - they should be at home. If they feel an event has to be face-to-face - then they can host it in a way that works best for themselves and their attendees. In order to maintain inclusivity, we created a “Remote Rule of Thumb” - if the event is interactive and one person is working remotely then the event should be held online.

To aid with the community element we keep multiple desks at the office 5 days-a-week and ensure that those are accessible at all times. Some of us still appreciate an office somewhere that’s not in our house!

Wellbeing Initiatives: Quiet Wednesday & Collaborative Thursday
Everybody works differently and many of our team work best with long periods of uninterrupted thought. To enable longer periods of focus we have designated Wednesday as a quiet thought day. This is a wellbeing initiative where everyone at Switchee can leave their calendar free of meetings and be able to get their head down and focus on projects/tasks without interruptions.

Thursdays are reserved for some interactive activities with the team, typically centered around our office space. For example, a number of Lunch & Learns will fall on a Thursday, where people can socialise and have lunch together. Thursday is a day for us to meet and interact with our team. 

Let’s be honest, most of our collaboration Thursdays finish on a high note! Why not celebrate our team’s hard work at a local pub or have a lovely stroll down the Victoria Embankment (which happens to be right outside our offices).

Working it out together
As with any company-wide initiative and given the transformational nature of moving from an all-remote to a hybrid model of working we recognise that there will be a period of transition and adaptation. We will be trialling how all of the above initiatives work and tweaking our new ways of working as we go.

Olya Yakzhina

Olya is Switchee's Head of People. She is a people-focused professional, educated in Counselling Psychology and Transformational Coaching. Olya's passion lies with the employee experience.

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