Remote working at Cuvva: our pandemic journey and what’s next

Gemma, our People Director, talks us through Cuvva’s remote working journey
By Team member, 07/09/2021
3 minutes read

If you’ve read our journey through the pandemic blog, you’ll know how committed we are to supporting all of our Cuvvarati and creating a great place to work.

The History

Before the pandemic hit, we were an office-first company. We all worked from home on a Wednesday (and the odd day here and there when we needed to) which was our ‘get sh*t done day’. We knew back then that we would always want to increase the working flexibility, but we also knew we needed to build a solid foundation of collaboration and relationships. This is easiest done in person - after all, the human race are social beings (as much as some days I don’t want to speak to anyone!) and we make connections, communication, relationships and display values easier in person.

Whilst the pandemic was bubbling back in February 2020, we listened to the concerns of our Cuvva-folk and closed the office for everyone to work remotely.

The Problem

Throughout the pandemic, we surveyed and gathered information internally to try and understand what the right mix of home/office work should look like.

What we found was that a high number of people struggled with the lack of ‘in person’ time whilst onboarding, getting to grips with a new task or on group projects and working in general. It's just not the same, not to mention the impact on mental health. On the flip side, we also found some people thrived at home and really didn't want to come back to the office. As we hire, we’re also seeing about 5% of candidates wanting a totally remote policy.

Reading that, the most logical thing seems to be: Well, let those who want to come in the office, come in, and those that don't, stay at home? However, what if those that are struggling need the interactions and time with those that don’t want to come in?

It's usually the most confident and established employees and candidates - who have great WFH set-ups away from the rest of their home - that want fully remote. Those that want to come into the office are usually working or living in isolated environments, and need the guidance, support and collaboration with those established employees. In some cases, people simply just work better in an in-person environment as opposed to trying to convey something over Slack, or in Hangout discussions.

We are aware of this problem and we constantly survey and look at the data (and every comment left on our engagement survey) to understand how everyone is feeling in order to put a plan in place.

So what's our plan?

We know we can’t set a permanent policy just yet - we don’t know what's going to happen. So, we’re doing a couple of trials and will continue to survey internally throughout those trials to gather feedback, and then put a policy in place that balances the needs of everyone.

When we moved office, we purposely didn’t fill it with desks for everyone because we know not everyone will be there all of the time. We focused on a great social environment with breakout and collaborative spaces but also quiet areas for people to concentrate - here is a tour so you can see for yourself.

Our first trial

From September to December 2021, you will be scheduled to work from the office 1 week a month with the team you work with most closely. As we are a product-first company, your discipline or department isn’t always the team you work with most.

  • You and your team set the week - you could decide to do 2 weeks in October and then nothing in November and then a week at the beginning of December.
  • You can come in more than 1 week if you wish - in fact, some people come in every day.
  • You should avoid any holidays within the team as best you can! Both as leaders scheduling your team’s office week and as individuals planning your own holidays, we ask that you plan carefully so as to not miss your office week nor plan an office week when much of the team is on holiday.

Our second trial

From January to March 2022, we’ll give you total flexibility to come in when you want - but we’d like to see you :)

We’ve invested in Common Surface to better help schedule your office week / days. Plus, it’s helped with the scheduling by suggesting office weeks based on sharing every team’s details and holidays.. Remember, we don’t actually have desks for everyone - so scheduling when you’re in the office is important!

Our final remote working policy

Our permanent policy will be a hybrid one. It's the future and the best way to get the mix of collaboration, social ties and productivity - how that will work we don’t know yet.

What we do know is that any requirement (if we set one) won’t be more than the trial, we won’t be back to the office full-time and we will use the feedback from these trials to set that policy.

Team member