How to Stay Connected and Productive in a Flexible Work Environment
The COVID-19 outbreak is challenging organizations around the globe to stay agile in the face of changing conditions. From switching to virtual event management after trade shows get canceled, setting up workspaces that allow minimal contact in offices, improving their communication with staff, and many teams are connecting remotely and moving away from traditional work processes for the first time. In a previous post, we discussed the benefits of flexible work policies. InspiringApps remains committed to allowing employees the freedom to personalize their approach to completing their work successfully. Part of that success comes from remaining connected and motivated when we are physically apart. We’ve found we best succeed with productive flexible work in a few ways.
When completing a puzzle, it is helpful and motivating to see the larger picture. Similarly, keeping employees informed about larger organizational developments, as well as their coworkers’ contributions to shared goals, promotes team cohesion and helps generate more informed solutions. Hosting a regular event that increases employee awareness of company-wide operations goes a long way in uniting mobile teams. InspiringApps hosts a team-wide demo day at least once a month, and sometimes more frequently. Since social distancing started we’ve heard from our design team about the steps they take and the software they use to make the apps we create beautiful. The development team showcased their work by demonstrating the features of a complex fintech app we’re developing. And coming up next is a demo from our Quality Assurance team about the tools they use to ensure that software bugs are squashed before our apps go live.
Informal meetings that give employees the opportunity to engage on both a professional and personal level can also advance team unity. If you follow these tips then you will be able to keep your meetings informal while also being productive enough to hit all the agendas of the meeting. Our team usually gathers in the conference room every Wednesday afternoon for lively discussion about current events, TV shows, and music. We’ve moved the gathering online during this time of social distance and have found our engagement with each other to be just as strong. The connection takes a bit more effort over a video conference, but it’s worth it to feel a small sense of normalcy with our weekly routine and to chat about something other than our client projects. Additional advice for engaging whole teams over web meetings has surfaced in recent months. For example, a recent publication suggests using icebreakers to open conversations, calling on team members to increase participation, and debriefing after virtual meetings.
Staying Motivated and Productive at Home
While flexible work arrangements can boost output, team members may need to adjust their own strategies for productivity. Working remotely requires a different approach to personal efficiency. Our team has the following suggestions for staying productive while working from home:
- Take breaks during the day to move away from your work space at home. Take a walk outside or complete a workout.
- If you have kids, try to arrange independent activities or learning for them, and if you have a partner, alternate times when you will be responsible for the kids. This obviously depends on the age, independence, and school needs of your children and may be easier said than done!
- Remember that your team and your clients rely on you. Your productive flexible work is important to their success.
Additional tips for excelling from home include establishing an inviting work “spot,” developing a routine that suits your energy levels throughout the day, and writing your to-do list the night before.
Now more than ever organizations must find new ways to connect teams and continue to work effectively in order to adapt to a changing global economy. At InspiringApps, we have learned firsthand that connectedness and productivity can be cultivated flexibly. The belief that we are #InspiredWhereWeAre has long been foundational to our operations and continues to drive our work during challenging times.
InspiringApps is intent on developing digital products that delight users and reflect customized market solutions. Please contact us with questions regarding how we can bring your next project to life.
Boulder, CO—In the latest article from Built In Colorado, InspiringApps’ Director of Operations, Stacy Griffin, joins other leaders in sharing their career journeys, the lessons they’ve learned, and their advice for other women. Describe your career journey and current role. My career journey spans over 20 years in technology, project management, and people management. I started out as a developer at IBM and then moved into a developer lead role, which is when I began managing projects. From there, I pivoted to a formal project management role, which involved interacting with the business, gathering requirements, and managing technical project delivery. I eventually joined InspiringApps as a project manager, applying those same skills. Recently, I was promoted to director of operations, a new strategic role. I manage people and projects as a member of the leadership team. I’m also involved more on the sales side. My job requires managing a team of developers and overseeing client engagements and project lifecycle and delivery. It requires a lot of communication with clients and developers, both of whom have distinct working styles. To set expectations, I draw from years of experience in listening and applying empathy. I also have a master’s in computer science, which gives me aptitude and credibility with technical audiences. What advice do you have for other women who manage tech teams or aspire to? I have two pieces of advice for women who aspire to manage tech teams. First, find a role model. Look for mentors, ask questions and try to learn from the people around you. Secondly, avoid imposter syndrome. You should feel comfortable in your own skin. Remember that you’ve earned your seat at the table. What’s one important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a leader, and how has that made you a better manager? I’ve learned that there’s no single right way to manage people. Having the courage to manage in a way that’s comfortable and authentic to my personality allows me to lean into my strengths and improve in areas where I need to grow. It’s also important to know that treating people with autonomy and respect builds trust. People appreciate it when you’re honest and open. I’m not a micromanager, and I naturally take the role of supporting people. I’ve learned to combine open dialog with frequent check-ins. Bringing my authentic self to work makes me a better manager.
4 days ago
Culture is what we share; it’s the values, goals, attitudes, and practices that make us who we are as an organization. A strong culture can give your company an advantage by fostering loyalty, creativity, and motivation. But what are the ingredients of positive company culture? Each company has its own unique culture and way of crafting it. The best cultures dovetail perfectly: employees and leaders focus on the same mission and encourage rewards. Discovering the perfect combination, however, doesn’t happen overnight. This article shares our approach and recommendations to create an intentional company culture, offering insights and strategies that any company can apply to nurture a positive environment that leads to success. What is intentional company culture? Every company has a culture. While culture may form organically, consistent and intentional cultivation will result in greater success. Intentional company culture combines organizational values and mission with the rewards of employment that come in four main styles: Loyalty-based Performance-based Opportunity-based Lifestyle-based No style is better than the other; it’s dependent on the company and the employees hired. For instance, if your staff prefers lifestyle-based culture (flexible work or other perks) over performance-based culture (raises and promotions for a job well done), the employees may stay dissatisfied and leave to find a company culture that suits their preference. In InspiringApps’ infancy, the personalities of the relatively few people involved drove our culture. But as the company grew, we were careful to emphasize the characteristics that fostered a positive work environment and eliminated any contrary to what we’ve come to value—empathy, inclusion, and personal growth for our employees. Why do your employees need an intentional company culture? A recent survey found that 79% of employees who left their jobs did so because of a lack of appreciation, and 50% said they were more motivated by appreciation than money. This sounds like a job for company culture! In an ideal world, company culture and performance should work in tandem. Employees who are happy with their jobs have higher satisfaction rates. However, lousy work culture can hurt employees, bringing high turnover rates, burnout, and subpar work. Creating an intentional company culture requires consistency and time. There is no shortcut. Intentional company culture benefits from open minds. Influential leaders seek to: Understand what employees appreciate and what causes them pain. Hear employees’ suggestions for improvement. Follow through with promised changes. Repeat the above frequently. Intentional company culture requires commitment from everyone—especially the leadership team. InspiringApps understands this fundamental truth. An InspiringApps employee explains it best: How To Develop & Maintain a Great Company Culture Engaged employees are critical for business success. Experience is the best teacher, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons regarding things that keep our employees a happy part of the team. We built our culture slowly and methodically, and we’re proud to celebrate strong retention, with over 40% of our staff staying with us for more than five years. Among all the lessons we’ve learned, the following best practices stand apart from the rest: Promote from within. Offer excellent benefits. Be inclusive. Communicate consistently. In the following sections, we discuss each best practice in detail and share our experiences to help every company develop and maintain a great culture. Promote From Within Today’s employees are looking for a company with opportunities for career advancement and appreciate roles with a clear path to growth and promotions, as they give them personal goals to work towards. Along the employee journey, InspiringApps offers professional development opportunities that help our team members stay on top of their skills, expand their capabilities, and incorporate new and developing interests. By doing so, our employees can have long tenures at InspiringApps, while remaining competitive. At the same time, we can hire the best candidates for our growing positions right from our own team. As the InspiringApps client roster scaled, so did our team. We promoted long-time employees into our development team lead roles, recognizing their wisdom and honoring their commitment to our team through their tenure. Offer Excellent Benefits Many startups, including InspiringApps, may be resource-constrained in the early days. Health and retirement benefits are expensive, so we focused first on benefits that didn’t require a direct cash outlay. Establishing a two-day-per-week remote work policy over a decade ago, accommodating part-time employees, and offering flexible work hours were all low-cost ways to treat our team with respect. As InspiringApps matured, we also added more traditional benefits. In addition to a 401(k) plan with match, profit sharing, and a generous and flexible PTO policy, we recently increased the company’s health premium contribution from 50% to 100% and added company-paid vision, dental, disability, and employee assistance (EAP). Be Inclusive Inclusivity is a mandate kept top-of-mind in the projects and clients we take on and the staff we hire and promote. In a historically homogenous industry like tech, inclusivity can be a challenge. Through intentional recruiting and a focus on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to join the field, InspiringApps is working to build a more diverse team that better reflects the communities we serve. Promoting women in tech is one way we’ve made strides in our company. At InspiringApps, women make up 40% of our leadership team and more than a third of our employees, which is 20% more than the US average. Promoting diversity and inclusion provides various perspectives, which is essential for the challenges we’re addressing in our consumer apps. We consider it a competitive advantage as we continue to innovate for our clients. Additionally, we’ve made a concentrated effort over time to welcome new employees. Years ago, that welcome included a team lunch on Pearl Street. Since our team has grown, that lunch is now digital—and the efforts to be inclusive extend much further than that. Communication and connection are ingrained into the way we set up projects, make progress on initiatives, and more. Communicate Consistently Secrecy and unexplained decision-making from leaders lead to unengaged employees. Transparency is the answer. About 85% of employees are most motivated when they know what’s happening and why. Open and frequent communication, including standups and all-hands meetings, project or team demos, company newsletters, and social media, encourages employees to gain trust in leadership. When you share company goals regularly, your employees will feel confident in knowing the direction they’re working. The more your employees see open communication from leaders and are encouraged to participate in decision-making, the better communicators they’ll be with your clients, modeling positive communication behaviors in everything they do. Technology is your ally when it comes to employee engagement. Offering a Slack channel or other internal chat features, an employee app, or an intranet site where employees can share and talk directly to leaders can inspire a transparent culture. The Value of Culture InspiringApps nurtures a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusivity. Our commitment to culture is exemplified by an official Great Places to Work ® Certification™. But that recognition is only a small window into the little things that our team is doing every day to reinforce the culture we’ve been nurturing for years. Our culture is one of our most valuable assets. It defines our expectations for the way we treat one another. Beyond making InspiringApps a pleasant place to work, our culture is evident in our client relationships and in the apps we create. Building award-winning apps starts with a language that’s foreign to many of us: code. For more than 15 years, our app development team has built easy-to-use iOS, Android, and web applications serving over 100 companies in a dozen industries. See our work.
1 month ago