Interview with Emmanuel Marchal, partner at Cassotis Consulting, about updating the company's policy considering a hybrid work model and resuming the office routine for all employees.
Emmanuel Marchal: We are a company with a culture focused on people's well-being. At the beginning of the pandemic, 100% of our employees started working remotely. After a few months it was possible to measure how challenging it is to continue collaborating as a team. As we know, the pandemic has transformed the way we work and working relationships. Making this model possible overnight was a challenge for everyone; for both small and large companies.
At Cassotis we had very interesting experiences during this period. Some of our employees spent periods in other cities or traveling, experiencing the so-called "anywhere office".
Marchal: Managing will always be an active and constant job, whether in person or remotely. For Cassotis, hybrid work is not brand new. The company's structure and management model already provided for long-distance collaboration, as our consultants used to travel for days to carry out project visits to clients. There was also already flexibility regarding the time and place of work, such as a working from home sketch. Still, the challenge of having the work-from-home model in the long-term and with all areas was not an obvious path. I believe that we have all learned and evolved a lot together in this new way of working.
Marchal: I am very proud to say ‘yes’! We conducted a large, completely virtual project right at the start of the pandemic and the outcome was very positive. Obviously, we had constant improvements in internal processes over time and greater dynamism in meetings. Employees had even more autonomy in their routine, completely managed their time and ended up having greater responsibility in decision-making.
But giving all that autonomy to employees is difficult...
Marchal: Indeed. But that is the point: if the employee understands what is expected of him and what the company's objective is, the process flows naturally, as long as it is well managed.
When we talk about delivery and results, I immediately see Cassotis' values acting as the company's support pillar; that is, the importance of organizational culture in this process. We consider people one of our main assets and we work on this with daily actions.
Marchal: Indeed it is! Our internal communication strategy assumption is to think of actions that always endorse our culture. Over the past two years, they have been fully adapted to the virtual environment. We have realized that the feeling of belonging is not only linked to the physical space, but also to the set of actions, benefits and experiences that the employee has with the company. The common saying “do your best for the company" has a new meaning. Employees used to "do the best for the company" because they believed that it was the company that gave them stability, so they needed to keep their jobs. Today, employees do the best for the company when they believe in what the company does, what it really stands for and if company values are aligned with their personal values. And if so, they do more than their best for the company. They always want to do better, improving their own performance and, consequently, the company's results.
Marchal: Yes, we hired remotely, and conducted full immersion and team integration virtually. That was certainly one of our biggest challenges! Not only the hiring itself, but also the process of immersion and integration. When it comes to hiring, we are talking about a process that requires commitment from both parties. Once the employee is hired, the company has an entire onboarding job in the middle of the work routine to integrate the employee to the company's culture and people. The hired employee, on the other hand, has to dive into an entire unfamiliar environment. On top of that, there is the emotional aspect. Paying attention to the new employee makes them satisfied with the choice they have made and the company should take advantage of this period of greater motivation. We are very proud of having conducted successful selection processes and training sessions, completely remotely, for new employees.
Marchal: I believe that a new adaptation process is taking place. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had an adaptation to working from home. Now, with the entire team vaccinated and the fall in the numbers of the disease, the opposite path began. We have adopted a flexible work policy, with up to 2 days working from home per week. We still believe there is greater connection between people in physical space. We understand that remote work is not a benefit, but a way of working. If the employee needs concentration for a certain task and believes that he will be able to do that working from home, he has the autonomy to make his own schedule.
Since there was no drop in employee productivity and I was sure of the confidence I have in the team in terms of commitment and delivery, the possibility of working from home more often became viable.
Marchal: Every company has its own reality. In ours, it was possible to do that. However, for other companies or other sectors it may not be a possibility. Anyway, I believe that the most important thing is to guarantee information security and confidentiality. This has always been a concern for Cassotis. That's why our structure was already prepared to work in this way, where all the information was made available so that the employee was able to produce anything wherever he was, but ensuring data security.
Good management in the virtual environment requires the aid of appropriate tools such as a virtual meeting platform and collaborative documents. Without these applications, which gained many new features during this pandemic period, it would not be possible to achieve effective management. It is also necessary to establish good practices in their use. At Cassotis, all participants must, for example, keep the camera turned on in meetings. When we look at each other we guarantee attention, and we can also see non-verbal language, which greatly reduces the noise in communication.
Finally, trusting your team is paramount. Having good management is essential, but if you don't have a team you believe in, there will be distrust and demotivation, greatly increasing employee turnover. Build a champion team to manage, this is the only way to ensure results and work fluidity.
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