During the last year, almost every company has been forced to think creatively about how to keep their business running and help employees thrive. At Front, our mission is to help people work happier, so you can imagine that keeping our team happy at work, today and in the future, has been something we’ve worked on every single day since this pandemic started.
Throughout these months we’ve been focusing on employee health—mental, physical, and emotional—by keeping teams remote, building in more days off so people can disconnect, having managers check in with their teams more regularly, and more. We’ve been consistently impressed by our team’s ability to adapt and grow, even when we know it hasn’t been easy. Together we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our business, and how we best work together.
For a while, it felt too soon to launch plans for what the future of work would look like for us. After all, how can you plan for the future when there’s so much uncertainty every day? While the pandemic is far from over, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel for some office locations where teams might be able to safely gather in person again. So after months of researching and listening to our team, we’re excited to share Front’s plan for the future of work with the world. We were thrilled that after surveying our team about this plan, 95% of the company agreed that it’s a good plan for Front, and 91% agreed it aligned with their personal preferences.
Considering many factors for working happier
We know that many elements come into play to create a workplace where people are truly happy. Company culture, flexibility, and understanding team preferences are important—but especially this year, employee safety and wellbeing are just as critical. We took all of these factors into consideration to build a scalable model that could empower every Fronteer to do their best work.
Safely nurturing in-person connections
Culture has always blossomed in person at Front, and our team says again and again that it’s one of the things that makes working here special. It’s also something we firmly believe has helped us succeed as a company. We want to ensure that Fronteers have space to continue nurturing strong connections with one another. That’s why we’re excited to keep our offices open for the team to gather, collaborate, and get to know each other. We’ll open our San Francisco and Paris offices when it’s safe to do so according to local guidelines. We’ll also expand our team and open new offices in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland. Every space will be thoughtfully designed as a safe and friendly environment for every Fronteer to come, feel welcome, and do their best work.
Flexibility for wellbeing and balance
Opening our offices doesn’t mean we’ll go back to how things were in 2019. Since then, we’ve learned so much about our business, the capabilities of our team, and how we can accommodate different lifestyles. We realized Fronteers can continue to do their best work and serve our customers without being in the office daily. We all value the flexibility of skipping the commute, staying home with family, and all the other benefits of working from home. It’s also shed light on how we can empower people to take time off when they need it—for their own health, to spend time family, and more. So we’ve incorporated these elements into our new plan.
Remote work for those who need it
We know that full remote work, without ever being present in an office, is possible and sometimes desirable (we’ve all been doing it for more than a year!) Some Fronteers, current or future, will only be able to work at Front remotely, so we wanted to accommodate that for existing teammates and be open to hiring teammates who might not be able to join us in the office.
The 4 worker profiles at Front
With these elements in mind, we created 4 Fronteer profiles for specific styles of working. By creating profiles we hope to create an inclusive and flexible workforce while giving the team clarity on schedules and expectations for themselves and their peers.
In-Office: A handful of Fronteers, like office managers and IT, will work in the office full time. They’ll be expected to come to the office 4 days a week (every day except Friday, more on that later).
Hybrid: The Hybrid Fronteer is the default profile—about 75% of the company. It’s a Fronteer who works a minimum of two days in the office. Any employee living within 50 miles of one of our offices will be considered Hybrid. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the required days, but they can always come in more often if they wish. We wanted to be deliberate about this because having just a handful of people spread across a big empty office doesn’t achieve what our team is looking for. We want to ensure that on days when employees come to the office, they’re feeling the bustle, energy, and warmth of their team around them. If everyone could select their own days to come in, we might have small groups every day of the week—and employees that didn’t organize when to come in together might never get to meet.
Frequent Flyer: These Fronteers work primarily from a designated remote, but accessible location and are expected to come into the office 1-5 days per month. This profile allows us to expand our access to a larger talent pool that is still within travel distance to a Front hub, allowing for relationships to be built.
Remote: A smaller number of Fronteers will be remote, with limited expectations of time spent in the office. This allows us the flexibility to hire top talent regardless of where a Fronteer lives.
No one is required to come back to the office until it is safe to do so. Once we feel confident and employees are comfortable, all in-office and hybrid Fronteers will have one full quarter to come back to the office for their specified days. When we do open back up, there will be designated meeting hours to encourage people to make connections while they are in the office and allow for commuting time.
But what about now?
There’s so much talk about the future of work—but life is happening right now. With that in mind, we wanted to build a Now of Work plan to take care of employees and their wellbeing today. As part of the Now of Work, our team can come into the office if they submit proof of vaccination and wear masks according to local guidelines. The ability to go to the office is completely optional. We’re also offering free lunches on certain days in the office and organizing limited group gatherings to allow for those who feel comfortable to start building connections with their teams again—or in many cases, meet their teammates in person for the very first time.
Keeping a flexible work week, every week
Starting this spring, we began a program to give Fronteers more flexibility in their work week: Flexible Friday. Every Friday is a non-reachable day—there are no recurring meetings and no expectation of synchronous communication internally, answering emails immediately, etc. This day can be spent on focused work with time for something else, whether that’s playing with kids, going for a bike ride, running errands, or looking after your mental health.
We started this program because Fronteers shared in surveys that what they wanted was the flexibility to get work done how it best suited them. After two quarters of quiet experimentation to make sure Flexible Friday really worked for the team, we decided to share it with the world. Already, we’ve heard positive feedback—that having a day of minimal expectations lets them get work done faster and forces people to be more efficient in the other 4 days each week. It’s also created a better work life balance since Fronteers don’t need to cram creative work into the gaps between pings and meetings—or worse, do it outside their regular hours.
Working happier, no matter where you work
We’re excited to bring the team back together with our new plan, and we hope it provides some clarity into what the future of work at Front will hold. As with everything, we’ll continue to survey the team to get feedback on how our plan is working. While we put this plan into practice, we’re working on some other elements that we know are core to working happier, now and in the future:
Diversity and inclusion are key to working happier, and while we have company-wide goals for building a diverse workforce, we’ll want to develop a framework for thoughtfully incorporating these things into our future of work plan.
Engagement and belonging are also a top priority—and we’ll need to consider our existing initiatives for improving these in a new light when we move to our new future of work plan.
Creating a fair and comfortable working environment for both in-office employees and those who are remote will be important if we want to encourage every Fronteer to succeed. So we’ll be thinking about ways to ensure every Fronteer’s physical workspace empowers them to succeed, no matter where they are.
We’re excited to bring the team back together to build deeper connections with each other and our customers. We know that as with everything, this is a work in progress. We’ll continue to mold this plan when we see opportunities to help our team to work happier.
Written by Ash Alexander
Originally Published: 26 October 2021