Restrictions are lifting but will our tech industry return to the office? The short answer is yes. see more
Will our Tech Industry Return to the Office?
Restrictions are being lifted and retail businesses are slowly opening up, but will our tech industry return to the office during this pandemic?
The short answer is yes, a little bit at a time. It will be slow and staged. Cautious and collaborative. Not all will return.
So what does that look like?
Most tech companies are asking their employees what they want. They are asking them what safety measures would make their return comfortable. What are their needs? Do they want to continue to work from home until the pandemic is over? Or are they desperate to get back into an office setting? Individual needs are being taken into account. One-sized-fits-all approaches are not being taken. Rotations are being planned, with people coming to work only a couple of days per week.
Some companies are moving to a permanent remote model.
Clear policies and practices are being put in place. Signage, one-way foot traffic, mandatory masks in common areas. Bathroom protocols. 12% of our member companies surveyed have implemented temperature checks.
Open concept tech spaces are looking at plexiglass barriers between cubicles. Desk are being reconfigured and spread out. It’s going to look like our grocery stores. Lots of rules and clean as a whistle!
Kitchens will be bare. Coffee machines, chairs and snacks are being removed. It’s going to be BYOD (“bring your own dishes”) for a while. No creamers in the fridge. Some companies are removing microwaves and water coolers.
Interviewing of candidates in the office won’t be returning in a hurry. When we surveyed our members, of those companies that have determined an interviewing strategy, half plan to continue with remote interviewing. Another 48% plan to limit office visits by doing a mix of in-person and remote interviewing.
BC Jobs ran a virtual tech job fair last week, with hundreds of tech workers talking with recruiters from companies that are hiring. It was successful and they plan to continue facilitating these events. Virtual job fairs work.
Remote interviewing is a trend that will likely stick around.
For those who do return to the office in some format over the next couple of months, there certainly won't be any big parties. A few physically distanced picnics and parking lot BBQ’s are being planned but gone are the Happy Hour Fridays in the lunchroom.
Ensuring a safe workplace during a pandemic…. This is new territory for all of us. Our networks are vital at a time like this. We can lean on each other (figuratively of course!) and share ideas, solutions, plans and resources. Reach out to your network today.
And speaking of resources, here are a few resources that are repeatedly recommended by our HR Tech Group community:
- BC’s Restart Plan: HERE
- WorkSafeBC’s Returning to Safe Operation: HERE
- From the Seattle community, a Back to Work Toolkit: HERE
- Fasken Law’s Coronavirus Knowledge Centre and webinar series: HERE
- And for manufacturing facilities in particular, Tesla’s Return to Work Playbook: HERE
Remote recruiting and on-boarding is hard. Here are 10 tips and ideas from tech industry stars. see more
10 Tips for Remote Recruiting and On-boarding
Remote recruiting and on-boarding is hard.
We recently hosted a webinar on the topic and were fortunate to have Tim Khoo-Jones, Senior Talent Acquisition Lead at Shopify, Saleema Chaudhry, Talent Acquisition Manager at PayByPhone and Ilya Brotzky, CEO and co-founder of VanHack join us for a panel discussion.
With such diverse perspectives from an award-winning start-up, a high growth SME and a tech unicorn, I took a lot of notes! Here are 10 tips and ideas from the conversation.
Let’s start with sourcing.
Tip #1. Virtual hiring events are proving effective for sourcing. Consider hosting webinars for candidates so they can learn about your company. Location is no longer a barrier for attending. Attend virtual career fairsbeing organized by post-secondary institutions and industry associations.
Tip #2. Virtualize your job postings. The job has changed. Make sure the posting has too.
What about assessment? We’re accustomed to bringing someone to our office where we can interview them, test them and watch them interact with a number of different people. How do you assess candidates’ skills and capabilities from afar?
Tip #3. Watch out for unconscious bias. It’s magnified in a remote setting.
Unconscious bias training is more important than ever. Do more of it.
Build your hiring team’s awareness about potential bias “traps”. Check your own biases before starting an interview.
Some additional biases that candidates face in a remote interview setting are:
- Technical difficulties during interview = inability to work from home
- Lower than average communication skills = inability to perform the job well
- Messy background, poor lighting, bad camera angle = general incompetence
- Inexperienced = too risky. unlikely to perform job well from home
These are not facts. These are common biases that candidates are facing right now, in a remote setting. Watch for these, on top of other unconscious biases.
Tip #4. Be flexible with candidates. Internet connections lag and drop. Construction happens next door. Babies cry. Poop happens! Know that it will and prepare to adjust for it. Work to put the candidate at ease when it happens.
Tip #5. Try new assessment tools. They won’t always work so you may need to keep trying. Maybe it’s as simple as using shared Google docs. Give candidates “take home projects” to get a sense for their skills.
Compensation and relocation need to be considered in a remote model.
Tip #6. Determine your compensation and relocation approach before you’re in the thick of it with a candidate. Some companies are stipulating compensation levels based on the local home country of the hire. If they are living and working in Costa Rica, their compensation is X. If/when they relocate to Canada, their compensation becomes Y. Determine if it’s even feasible to have someone work for your company from another country. You’ll need to pay them through a legal entity in the country in which they reside. Is it cost effective to have someone in a high cost global location? Much to consider.
Remote on-boarding is hard.
How do you welcome people and connect them to your organization and your company culture?
Tip #7. Education – Figure out what additional context new hires need. Provide more documentation than you did before. Spend more time educating new hires on your tools, processes and expectations. Be very clear on what's expected.
Tip #8. Build connection – Build relationships. Focus on building two-way trust. Have weekly one-on-ones between the new hire and their manager. Get everyone in the company/division/team (depending on your size) to reach out and personally introduce themselves to the new hire. Survey the new hires after 1 week, 1 month, 3 months. Tap your ‘cultural leaders’ to connect individually with new hires and loop them in socially.
Tip #9. Watch your language! Don’t inadvertently create a barrier to belonging.
Pre-COVID hires worked together in an office. They have a security ID badge. They met Dale’s friendly old dog and they know the receptionist well. They remember hanging out Friday nights at the beer fridge. Post-COVID hires do not.
Remove the ‘in-office’ language and lore from stories, conversations and documentation, especially if remote work is here to stay for many months or more.
Employee burnout was identified as a challenge right now. Some good mitigation ideas came forward from panelists and participants, like encouraging accountability partners who can hold each other to task to commit to their stated personal boundaries, like setting core hours for a team, and offering additional wellness and mental health resources. (think of these as bonus tips, leading up to tip #10)
All that said, from interviewing to on-boarding, empathy was the word of the day.
Tip #10. Have empathy.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION WORK? Check it out here.
Staying home under lockdown has given introverts the edge over extroverts – right? Maybe not... see more
Introverts and Extroverts – Who Wins at Home?
by Bruna Martinuzzi
Staying home under lockdown has given introverts the edge over extroverts – right? They have, after all, prepared for this scenario all their lives.
For sure, introverts who live solo can concentrate on their work and no longer need to find excuses for not mingling with the office crowd. But those who are housebound with an extroverted partner 24/7 may find this time particularly challenging.
The Conflicting Needs of Introverts and Extroverts
I spoke to Hile Rutledge to find out more. He’s president and principal consultant of organization development firm OKA, and author of numerous books on personality assessments. He told me: “Working from home is hitting a bullseye on the core differences between those of us who prefer extroversion and [those who prefer] introversion.
“Extroverts fret over their introverted partners’ foot-dragging over a conversation or small social check-in, while introverts low boil over their extroverts’ seemingly bottomless need to ‘plug-in.'”
Rutledge reminded me that, “Introverts tend to feel that parallel play is binding.” That is, “I can be here doing my work while you are right there doing your project, and even though we’re not talking directly, we are ‘together.'” Rutledge recommends that we, “Allow, and even invite, others to have space and quiet time from each other.”
How to Be Together, Apart
A coaching client of mine, who is a professed introvert, has created what he calls a “mental sanctuary.” This is an agreed-upon time where everyone sharing a cramped apartment can don their headphones and lose themselves in reading a book, listening to a podcast, meditation, or taking a virtual tour of a museum.
He said, “In our house, we have set up a blissful mental escape after dinner every evening.” It’s working well, and each person is looking forward to their hour and a half of quiet time, while in the same room.
Looking ahead, increasing numbers of employees will be working from home permanently, and others will adopt a mix of home and office.
This emergence of hybrid workplaces is revealed, for example, in a recent Gartner CFO survey. It shows that 74 percent of respondents intend to shift some employees permanently to remote work. And Deutsche Bank’s survey of financial services workers found that 57 percent thought they would work from home between one and three days a week once the lockdown has ended.
Socializing as an Introvert
There’s been an uptick lately in online office social activities. These include virtual happy hours at the end of each day, movie nights, virtual team-building and board game exercises, and recipe swaps.
They can be a kind of a lifeline for extroverts, who may be getting cabin fever, but are often a minefield for introverts.
Another client of mine, who is an avowed introvert, made a remark at the start of the pandemic that surprised me. He said, “My anxiety level has been at its lowest in years.”
He explained that the constant face-to-face interactions in an office teeming with people broke his concentration. It invariably spiked his anxiety at some point every day. In contrast, working from home, he can deal with issues more effectively by email, and he can concentrate. “Overall,” he explained, “my productivity is up, and my anxiety is down.”
But he’s finding the recent increase of invitations to team social events somewhat troublesome. He mentioned two of the latest ones: sharing of bucket lists in a Zoom party and a video peek into one another’s homes. These types of well-meaning requests are intruding on his routine and mental space.
Yet he is somewhat uneasy about declining to participate, for fear of being judged as a less sociable team member.
Designing the Virtual Workplace with Introverts in Mind
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler is the author of “Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces,” and I asked her what’s going on. She said, “Companies don’t want to lose touch with their teams and are concerned about relationships suffering and motivation dropping.
“However, what they need to realize is that introverts working at home crave quiet time where they can think and decompress. Adding another social “to do” to the list is actually having the opposite impact.”
But there are solutions. Kahnweiler continued, “I heard about one global company that matched people up randomly with each other for the phone call. They called it ‘Mystery Caller.’ Introverts liked it because it was low-key, they could do it on their own schedule, and it allowed for a deeper, one-on-one conversation.”
Remember, introverts may be observant and reserved, but they are not anti-social! They value social connection as everybody else does. They just don’t like to overdo it.
Tips for Managing Digital Overwhelm
Here are a few other suggestions to consider in the “new normal” of working from home:
- Don’t expect a colleague’s digital door to be open at all times. Instead, make an appointment for a call. This can go a long way to help both extrovert and introvert team members manage their day.
- Schedule enough breaks between online meetings so that people don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Make it acceptable for people to turn off their camera during group video calls if they so wish.
- Make it known that it’s OK to use the old-fashioned telephone instead.
- Frame virtual fun or team building events as a choice, not an obligation.
- Make it OK for people to drop in and out of social events. For example, don’t pressure people to stay for the duration of the happy hour.
We each have our preference for ways of working and interacting. Making space to accommodate these preferences will help everyone to operate better – and to feel understood and cared for in these challenging times.
You can discover more top tips for keeping well and productive, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, by reading the latest Mind Tools guide to working from home.
Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., specializing in presentation skills training and leadership communication coaching. She has helped thousands of individuals improve their presentation skills and become more effective communicators. She is the author of Presenting with Credibility: Practical Tools and Techniques for Effective Presentations (2012) and The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow (2009.)
This article first appeared on the Mind Tools blog at https://www.mindtools.com/blog/introverts-extroverts-who-wins-home/