Critical Ingredients to High-Performing Teams in 2020: Part 2, Location
Four agile coaches including MATRIX Agile Practice Director Jeremy Wood recently led a roundtable discussion on how to maintain high-performance teams while working remotely. Location is one popular topic they discussed.
Do you see any trends where companies are rethinking their geographical footprint where they're able to target talent which no longer needs to be in the same immediate region?
Phil Ricci: I have heard people talk about the real estate offices, the topic being ‘what are we going to do with the space because we're not going to get people to come back?’ And that's a very good discussion for them to have right now. It broadens their ability to add interesting workers who can be located anywhere.
Bryan Agosto: Two organizations that I work with right now believe that most likely it will be sometime next year when they return to their offices. Their go-forward plans are very different than what they were before. It will not be at full scale. They're looking at options like a, b, c type of team, with teams choosing to come into the offices on different days, at different times. Others are saying that workers can work from whatever location they desire, and they will adjust pay based on the cost of living.
Phil Ricci: I hope that companies will start thinking about long-term solutions for this long-term timeline, so their employees can plan ahead. People are not completely flexible.
Jeremy Wood: I think companies are falling into two groups here:
We are waiting for guidance from the government and that will inform us as to what we're going to do next month. We don't know what we don't know, and we'll let you know as soon as we do.
This may forever change the way we view work, the way we view locations, the way we source our employees, the way we've even looked at our landscape. Some of those organizations are already determining they may not need those offices anymore. Everyone will be distributed.
Todd Sussman: I found it very interesting when companies came out with the ‘you can live where you want, but we will pay you according to where you live’ policy. Because I will tell you my immediate thought when I started hearing about all these companies that you know you're going to be remote for the next 18 months is ‘oh, we can live in the UK again where it costs $500 a month and get paid as though we're in Manhattan’.
So, I think companies are really looking at the long-term strategy when they talk about opening up our geographical footprint. But don't think employees should expect to get paid as though you're living in Silicon Valley, when they’re living in rural Iowa.
One of the benefits of virtual work I've seen is a lot of organizations traditionally have multiple buildings or maybe they're spaced apart on different floors. With that setup, it’s not always convenient for individuals to reach out to some subject matter experts on product owners or different people in the organization.
But now, since everyone is working from home, it’s easier to get a hold of them and have those conversations virtually. Maybe I give them a phone call. Or do a video call and now I get to see their face. So I think that collaboration can be easier.
Phil Ricci: During an eight or nine-hour day, I feel somewhat disconnected personally. And I suspect that dealing with the isolation is going to rise to the surface and companies are going to have to pay more attention to the mental health of employees.
Bryan Agosto: As we go through these times, we should figure out how to ensure that we are not isolating others and ensuring that we are creating an environment that is empathetic for
every everything that's going on with others. We should always ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing to ensure that the team is improving?’ And if we're doing that, then it doesn't matter if it's a remote team or if it's a team that we're in person with - we can always get them to be high performing. And as team members and as leaders within any organization, we should always ask ourselves, ‘what can we do to make this team better?’