Hybrid Working: The Way We Work




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Hybrid Working Model — Best of Both Worlds

The hybrid model has been said to be the most difficult to master. With it neither being onsite nor solely remote, it means you need to cater for both scenarios. The world of work is constantly evolving, and Ostrom makes sure to adapt to offer the best space for our people to work the way they want to.

Why Hybrid Working?

Hybrid working is ideal for our team, allowing members to self-select how they work best. The office ensures there is a place for connection and collaboration when desired. And we provide all necessary equipment to ensure you can work just as well at home as in the office.

Hybrid allows for flexibility and provides greater autonomy to our team, they get to decide for themselves. Some days you need more in-person collaboration making the office beneficial, other days, such as a day full of calls, makes working from home better.

On top of all these points, hybrid is most in line with our core value: sustainability. Being hybrid means we do not enforce long commutes on our team and secondly, our office takes up less space.

People First, Digital First: It Goes Hand in Hand

We ensure that everyone has a voice through transparency and empowerment. We are here to listen, learn, and share — we are all in this together. Our workflows are public whether that be on Notion or Slack. You can also track the company’s success on Tableau anytime you like.

Being a digital first company, where you work from is not important. As long as you have a stable connection for calls and messages, you are good to go (maybe a quick check for time-zone overlaps with your manager, too!😇). With our core communication channels being Slack and Notion, it makes it easy to stay up to date across teams no matter your location. We view open-communication and clear documentation is key to reduce potential roadblocks and knowledge gaps. All information you need to get on with your work should be easy to find at all times, or just a quick Slack message away!

Before employees, we are people. We see hybrid working as an important building block in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. As a people-first company, we try our best to be flexible to support a balance between work-life. We’re all adults, and we’re all human: you know best how and where you do work that you are proud of.

Hybrid: What We’ve Learned So Far…

As a young startup we are continually establishing and adapting our processes to ensure they suit the current needs. We have have learnt a lot along the way, below highlighting a few of the main key takeaways.

Structure Enables Order

Clear documentation and streamlined processes are your best friend. Whether it is onboarding your newest team members or defining your ways of working within and across teams. Clarity ensures better alignment, ensuring everyone is on the same page and information is easily found.

Notion as our internal wiki which allows us to document, share information seamlessly and also keep track of our to-do’s. We have set core hours from 10:00 to 16:00, ensuring we have an overlap of our availability to readily collaborate and exchange information.

On a more granular level, we brought more structure to “hot-desking” — a concept that ensures you have a desk at the office after commuting in.  Using Deskfound, team members can take a quick look in the morning or for the upcoming week and book desks when needed.

Communication and Alignment on Goals

We are big on open communication. Being hybrid, means a lot of information is coming your way. Conscious of information fatigue, we have various Slack channels that you can freely select which are appropriate.

To share information and gather feedback from the team, we have various touch points:

  • Weekly Town Hall: Sharing the happenings for the week and any updates.
  • Quarterly update and next steps: We share the company progress as well as from each team, and communicate the focus for the next quarter.
  • Company and Team OKRs: Each team has defined OKRs derived from the company’s overarching OKRs. Each team provides an update on progress and challenges faced on a monthly basis.
  • Anonymous feedback: Onboarding and company-wide engagement surveys keep us on track. “Ask me anything” box for the co-founders.

These help us to provide structure and ensure alignment on our shared mission. It provides two-way communication, to ensure a flow of ideas and feedback from everyone. One feedback from Q3 of 2023, for example, was that with the growth of the team, more desks would be beneficial. We had an office shuffle and made this happen.

Moments of Connection

Being hybrid means we do not see each other in person as frequently, therefore it is important to us that we put aside moments of connection. Our Friday happy hour is there for anyone who wants to join and we host individual team-events. Twice a year we come together as a company in Berlin with a focus on team collaboration. Afterwards, we head off to enjoy an activity and share a meal together.

Each touchpoint is a chance to reflect on what we have achieved; the challenges and where to next.

Meeting Free Wednesdays: Could that call have been an email? 😉

Working online can lead to information fatigue and your attention can be fragmented, especially if you have many meetings. Due to this, we decided that every Wednesday we have a company-wide no-meeting day. This allows us a chance for deep focus with minimal distraction. Overall, as a company we try to reduce the amount of meetings by always questioning the reason behind the call and whether it is truly necessary.

Is a Return to Office on the Cards?

As the impact and effects of the pandemic slowly drift back, many organisations are choosing to enforce employees back into the office. We have no plans to do as such. Not only do want people to be able to choose where they work best, we will continue to work in the most lean and sustainable way possible.

We have not “figured it all out” but we are continually checking-in with our team to gather feedback on our working model and also Ostrom’s processes. We want to ensure the workplace is enjoyed and suitable to those who are in it. From being hybrid from the start, it continues to be the way we show up at work whether it be in the office or solely online.