Remote teams and co-working spaces

  • 6Minutes

Here at Growmotely, we go gaga over everything related to great company culture. We don’t profess to have all of the answers, but we are passionately committed (one of our five company values!) to being ardent students, scientists and artists when it comes to everything related to this topic.

One of our favorite ‘culture tools’ that we use here – not just in our internal team, but across our whole platform – is our monthly culture questions. We prompt all remote professionals on our platform every month to answer a set of six questions – questions that measure happiness and alignment. One of the questions is, quite simply, “How happy are you, overall, in your role at [company name]?” Each remote professional is able to choose a number from 1 to 10 – and then has the option to add a qualitative answer as well.

What are some out-of-the-ordinary things – as leaders of companies – that we might be able to do, to raise a ‘happiness score’ like this in our company from 7 to 8, from 8 to 9, or from 9 to 10? There are – of course – many potential actions we could take, and we’ve started thinking about some new ways to achieve this off the back of a discussion with FlexDesk Founder and CEO Clark Jacobs last week.

FlexDesk is a company that was born – as are so many – from necessity. Its founder, working for a remote company when the coronavirus pandemic reared its head, knew from his own experience that not all work-from-home environments were created equal, and he was aware of how this reality was going to affect the masses. He hadn’t been able to effectively work from his home at the time – too many people and not enough possibility for focused work. Whilst many of his colleagues were reveling in their work-from-home set-up, Clark was left feeling frustrated…and hung out to dry by this aspect of the remote-first culture of his company.

This frustration was the catalyst for him conceptualizing his current company, FlexDesk, which provides a co-working management solution to remote and hybrid companies – serving both distributed and any co-located team members. The idea is at the same time simple and innovative. Company A opens an account with FlexDesk; a FlexDesk account manager is assigned to said company; Company A sets up any desired ‘policies’ (e.g. a per-employee budget); all team members in the company receive an email that allows access to the FlexDesk portal; team members can then work with the account manager to get set up at all co-working spaces of interest to them; and then FlexDesk sends ONE invoice for all co-working expenses once a month to the company. Easy! FlexDesk manages the relationships and the billing with the co-working spaces; Company A simply interfaces with its FlexDesk account manager.

From a company culture perspective, this service is mouth-watering for a variety of reasons:

(1) It creates a more equitable culture.

As Clark experienced, some remote professionals simply have less-than-ideal work set-ups at home. Or – they might have great set-ups on most days, but not all of the time – for a variety of different reasons. Many remote professionals – like perhaps Koko or Bibiana – relish working from home because (amongst other reasons) they are able to remain in close proximity to their young children, however, they might find it refreshing now and again to be able to ‘escape’ family life and spend an afternoon in a quiet office near their home.

Do you have any team members in your company who are facing significant set-backs when it comes to their work-from-home set-up at the moment? (Have you asked your team members this question?) Here at Growmotely, we are committed to being part of the lattice of companies and individuals who are working to leverage remote work as a solution to the employment challenges that refugees face. Often refugees – through no fault of their own of course – are working in less-than-ideal workspaces. A service like FlexDesk has the potential to provide a work environment that refugee talent may not have previously had access to, thus moving towards a more equitable company culture, and of course, a more equitable society in general.

(2) It fosters freedom and autonomy when it comes to how and where we work.

People, generally-speaking, have varying opinions when it comes to their preferences around working remotely versus working at an office. Not everyone – shockingly! – is as gung ho as we are (here at Growmotely) about remote work. What people do not have varying opinions on however is autonomy. Almost all of us agree that the more autonomy we have around where we work, the better. A Harvard Business School article on autonomy puts at the top of the ‘autonomy hierarchy’ the following: ‘High autonomy, high flexibility: I can work wherever, whenever, with full access to my organization’s office space.” This edges out the ‘second best’ which is ‘Medium autonomy, high flexibility: I am mandated to work remotely full time but can choose where I want to work.” Given this, for those of us running fully remote teams, could we potentially step into the ‘top autonomy spot’ by leveraging a service like FlexDesk?

(3) It offers opportunities for increased personal – and group – productivity.

Janal Kurincak – someone who uses FlexDesk’s services via the hybrid company she works for – told us her story of what drove her to seek out these co-working services. She is the only team member in her company working where she lives (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA) and although she loves remote work, she started feeling at one point “disconnected” and “stuck in the house”. She wasn’t interested in working full time from an office, but she did like the idea of finding a different place to work, say, once a week. She was able to make this happen relatively easily thanks to her company’s set-up with FlexDesk, and her productivity and engagement has increased as a result.

On the group productivity front, I can’t help but think now to Growmotely’s own team members who are based in Mexico – there are three of them, and they decided to all converge this week in Mexico City for a week-long co-working session! Had we been set up with a FlexDesk account – it seems that we could have shot a request to our account manager, asking to get our Mexico City Team set-up with an appropriate place to create their magic this week… ¡Qué padre!

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Clark Jacobs – and the service FlexDesk provides – have created a lot of buzz here at Growmotely HQ. The possibilities have our wheels turning on one of the topics we love to chew on the most: great company culture. Creating more autonomy; generating more opportunities to work productively; and cultivating a more equitable culture are the possibilities that we are excited about. What have we missed? We would love to hear your experiences with how FlexDesk – or the provision of co-working services to your team members in general – have shaped your company culture for the better.

In the meantime, we’d like to thank you for continuously co-creating the Future of Work with us!

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