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Local & global workplace in the post-pandemic era

The author of this blog text, and member of the Kavanders & Co. team, is currently working from Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, and pondering on how the world has, probably never before, been this intertwined. We all went through, if not the same, motions and emotions caused by the pandemic. And it has changed us and our work life - for good.

The world and work-life have changed.

As the world is globally pondering what to make of the company policy of hybrid work modes, everybody is reflecting. Questions like "where do I want to live?" and, consequently, "where do I want to work?", "How do I work the best?" and finally, "How do I find the best work/life balance?" have crossed most of our minds in the past 1.5 years.

Do you work the best by yourself from home or at the office surrounded by colleagues? How many days out of five is a good number for you to spend at the office? What is your personal sweet spot when trying to find a balance between the two?

When you live and work in a way that energizes you, it positively affects your work. I think it applies to everybody, but especially those working in creative industries or doing creative work, like running a start-up. That's right, a job will not get much more creative than that. The outcome may not be as pretty instantly as with work that we traditionally see as creative, but it's not supposed to. The roads to Rome, here meaning success, come in all shapes and sizes.

Hybrid is the new remote.

According to a Bloomberg study, as the post-coronavirus economy takes shape, more than 30,000 US employees working from home only about one day a week will boost productivity by 4.8 percent. Much of that increase is projected to come from reduced commuting time, a factor usually uncaptured by economists.

The clues were there even before Covid-19. In 2013, a landmark study by Stanford University found that working from home boosted productivity by 13 percent.

And while a more permanent transformation of working life will have painful consequences for many inner-city businesses, economists see a recalibration underway that can revitalize smaller towns and suburbs. New digital tools mean that retail and hospitality — as well as knowledge-intensive industries — are already undergoing far-reaching change.

There is near-certainty that there will be substantially more remote work from now on. So that's going to change the nature of work and the way work gets done.

According to Forbes, despite these economic implications, the shift to hybrid is real, and the key is to embrace it and make it work for you on a personal level.

There are many things to consider. As I personally am taking a stint as a digital nomad, trying it on, so to say, let's discuss that for a bit, something that many of us have had an opportunity to test, to some extent.

Advantages of a globetrotter team

What is a globetrotter? According to the Oxford dictionary, "a person who travels widely." And what does travel do to you? Among others, it widens your perspective. Hey, did the box we were thinking outside just get wider? According to Pittsburgh University professor Paul Nussbaum, travel increases the number of new connections our brain makes and thus makes it perform higher! And no, we are not talking about stress-free holiday travels that do this, but any obstacle you encounter on your voyage will boost your problem-solving abilities! So next time you curse at the airport over an overbooked flight, remind yourself that it will make you a higher performer! (we know this will be a tough one…)

And if you and your team can't trot the globe for a reason or another, even changes to routines or taking up a new hobby will have a similar effect on your brain. How about just changing the order of coffee and showering in the morning? A trivial thing, but you won't be on autopilot as usual. Start small, think big, move fast.

Challenges and things to consider

1. Have regular meetings to stay connected and focused on the most critical task at hand.

Have enough meetings, as that is what an agile team does to keep the momentum going. How we roll in Team Kavanders is this

We ask ourselves questions every week:

  • What did we achieve last week?

  • What did we not achieve, and why not?

  • Challenges

  • Key take-aways & learnings: What did we learn?

  • Where do I need support from the team this week?

  • Focus points for the week

And then back to those questions next week, and start over for the next week.

Do it on a spreadsheet or in a tool of choice. You choose! Just make sure you do it in writing to come back to what was meant to be achieved and see how that went.

2. When hybriding remotely, keep those cameras on when on a call.

Show that you are present, and take in the mimics and reactions you can only get when seeing each other.

With most of our communication happening from behind a screen, traditional body language signals are no longer visible - or so it might seem. Side note; in case you want to read a good book about human interaction in the digital world, we suggest you read Digital Body Language, written by communications expert and thought leader Erica Dhawan. The book combines cutting-edge research with engaging storytelling and decodes the new signals and cues that have replaced traditional body language across genders, generations, and cultures.

3. We have a tip for you regarding video calls: Create your own background photo.

Here is ours that we use on Google Meets, it's simple to change.

The background keeps our team unified, no matter where we are located. It also gives the meeting a branded touch (and as a bonus, you don't have to worry about what your actual home office/"office du jour" looks like, you can focus on the meeting).

4. Also, meet with your colleagues regularly in person.

Why? We have great tools to virtually handle everyday work, but work solely via WhatsApp, Teams, or Slack? It. Does. Not. Work.

To start with, personal human interaction feels good. For reflection, you can read this fantastic column by Arthur C. Brooks (where he weekly tackles questions of meaning and happiness) about how switching to Zoom forever might be convenient, but it's a recipe for loneliness. But in addition to benefits like getting to know each other better and discussions always being different in person, there is more.

When you see a colleague regularly, it's more accessible to a) bounce ideas back and forth, b) ask for help, c) delegate ) execute the tasks given to you in the first place. Adding to this, nothing compares to a physical meeting for some specific occasions, such as finalizing negotiations for something, discussing a personal matter, or brainstorming or discussing strategy.

Final words

And hey, if you're team is located globally and traveling some parts of the year, your team is now becoming a group of expert tour guides, and you have a great reason to meet them or your potential partners or customers for Bordeaux in Bordeaux, for Gryére in Gryére, Portwine in Porto, or for a Caipirinha or Caipisake in Rio (this is my insider tip if you visit here). Great way to establish an extraordinary working relationship, don't you think?

Happy employees are motivated, creative, and engaged, so let them trot unless the business really requires physical presence. They will return as even better versions of their earlier selves.

Photo of Laura in her virtual office in the photo below. The first photo is from Helsinki, the second one is from Rio de Janeiro. You just can’t tell the difference, can you?

One last thing before you go: If content and support for building success stories and sustainable business models is something that interests you, you should follow our Instagram account @kavademy.


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