When we started #DDX, we were clear that we wanted to build a company and culture with flexibility; this was not in response to the pandemic, but more because the 3 of us founders wanted to (and still want to) enjoy a work life balance. How do you define that and enforce it in the workplace? Honestly, it becomes a matter of trust and accountability…
Every person is different. Some of the most wonderful people are the ones who don’t fit into boxes. In my last post, I wrote about being dyslexic. As someone who lives with this issue, I have a short attention span; or, to be more precise, it's not that I am lacking attention, but my particular way of thinking can be muddled, and my brain can be processing multiple bits of information at any point in time, just not necessarily in the right order!
This means that I typically work to a rhythm of - 20 mins of focus, 10 mins of rest/change of topic. Sometimes it's a physical break, sometimes it's a change of topic or a brief change of focus. This typically means that my days are longer (one way or another), as I can be catching up with various things. Then, there are other team members who can process things quickly, accurately, and be able to move on without hassle. They may find that they get through their tasks faster or finish their days earlier.
The point to this rambling is that flexible work can only be successful if you can build trust within the team. It's our responsibility as the leadership group of the business to blend personal styles, skills, backgrounds and, these days, location. Many companies offer ‘work from anywhere’, work remotely, and we are still learning how to work around this. At #DDX our team is judged on output, not hours worked. We are putting a strong emphasis on how project teams govern themselves, meaning the team works out how it wants to run and then sticks to the rules it sets itself. As long as the client is part of this thinking and we deliver projects to the correct standard, then we do not mind where people are or how much holiday they take. We have team members in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, India, South Africa, Vietnam and of course Thailand. So far, things seem to be working well, but why is that?
Structure can be added to any organisation, but trust is the more difficult concept, which takes more time. We want everyone in our team to be able to rely on their colleagues, whether it's for delivery, sales, or back office. We try to put the standard structures in place in terms of stand up, retros and clear documentation. But when you have teammates who are not in the same country, or come from a different background, the responsibility is with the whole organisation to encourage sharing and raise people’s visibility. I guess as we are still a young and relatively small organisation, so we have a clean slate, but bringing the team together and building the culture is something that the 3 founders wrestle with and appreciate every day.
Patience is also required. As someone from the older work style, who prefers meeting people and walking the floors of an office/factory, I also have to learn to trust the mechanisms we are putting in place.
At #DDX, we want people who join to have the freedom and flexibility to create a style that works for the client, the team and themselves. We welcome feedback from new joiners and partners on how we do this. Thailand itself has many options for remote work, and we encourage people to enjoy that culture, whilst they are working, but ultimately when we operate this way, we have to remind ourselves that we need to build trust first, take responsibility within the team, and develop a winning formula to deliver high quality output as efficiently as possible – and yes, earn that trust!