Company Culture Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 131 – 5 Questions With Tim Grimes

Dear leaders, this week’s 5 questions are with Tim Grimes, Tim is on a mission to improve work, so embracing and pushing flexible work, hybrid work, and helping companies to facilitate 4-day work weeks

An important workstream that Tim and his company offers is their site offers new filter roles with over 20 different flexible working options.  

Tim’s answers are great and super actionable for the new year. If you are struggling with being flexible and moving to more modern ways of working, Tim’s answers will help you rethink your approach or guide your company forward. 

Q1. You are flying the flag of flexible work and making it work, what are the 3 ways leaders can make flexible work, work? 

  • Transparency: Leadership must be upfront with employees and candidates around flexibility; be it flexi-time, compressed hours, remote working, phased retirement or career breaks. Only once a candidate/employee knows their options, can they make informed choices on whether it’s right for them. It’s also critical that leaders commit to these ways of working; ideally contractually. During the pandemic many organisations bought on new staff under specific flexible circumstances, only to backtrack, which causes retention problems.
  • Individualisation; leaders must remember that flexible work is never one-size-fits-all. Every individual has different circumstances that require someone to work flexibly; for some, it can be a preference; for others, it can be a life circumstance. For myself particularly, it was a life-event that made me realise how important work/life balance is, whereas I’ve haven’t got a requirement such as childcare. Regardless of circumstance, everyone should be treated equally, which creates an inclusive culture, built on trust and autonomy. 
  • Trust & Autonomy: To make flexible policies thrive, leaders must create a culture that’s built on trust and autonomy. Many leaders have a disconnect with their team around productivity, which is primarily due to the lack of trust. 

Q2. Implementing a hybrid working model has been challenging for many businesses; what are your tips for making the most of this model? 

Since pivoting to hybrid working, many companies are still struggling to adapt or have simply failed. And there’s a reason, most organisations have attempted to continue their pre-pandemic 5-day office model into 2-3 days. With teams utilising the office on different days, and workplaces focused on desk space rather than shared space, it’s incredibly difficult to foster a productive and inclusive working culture. However, there’s a way to make it work, something Nick Bloom has built; the seamless hybrid working model: 

  1. Source feedback and data to understand your team’s existing and preferred working patterns (don’t do this company-wide); 
  2. After establishing your team’s working pattern, ensure everyone comes in on the same days; 
  3. Make sure you front-load office days with in-person meetings and events – employees come in for collaboration; 
  4. Promote wider departmental video meetings and ‘deep thinking’ work on remote days; along with building out internal tech resources to bring people together remotely. 
  5. Newer team members should come in an extra day each week / fortnight for mentoring. 

During the limited collaboration days, there’s no point in employees attending the office just to sit on video calls. Companies must focus on collaboration done correctly, and built for the new world of work. 

Q3. What is the one trend you are predicting for 2023 that every leader should be building towards from today? 

In the new world of work, every leader needs to understand the era of adaptable personnel and explore new models of working. 

It’s time to build out nimble and dynamic teams, with individuals working differently; be it part-time, reduced hours or a 4-day week. For example, before hiring, managers need to move beyond the mindset of ‘full-time default’; this allows organisations to access wider and diverse talent pools. 

These different working arrangements provide businesses with lower fixed costs, whilst still giving them the opportunity to grow. Leaders have a duty to become more adaptable & open to new ways of working.
This mentality shift could future-proof many businesses, avoiding layoffs, which ultimately protect the livelihoods of their employees.

Q4. There have been huge numbers of layoffs impacting professionals across the world, what are the most important learnings others can apply to make this period better for both those impacted and those left in their roles? 

Being made redundant can be one of the most challenging periods for anyone, and leadership must treat any period with time and consideration. You can’t and shouldn’t expedite a redundancy process; leadership and management must be given enough time to make educated and informed decisions. 

An example of where this has failed is during the recent Twitter lay-offs; many individuals were laid-off, only to be asked back a few days later.
Once an employee is made redundant, and let-go, loyalty and trust is severed; bringing people back after is incredibly difficult; something that Twitter experienced.  

For those left in their roles, businesses must do more to protect their employees. I personally don’t believe organizations do enough before lay-offs. Businesses and leaders should be continually reviewing their staff to future proof; and before firing, businesses need to give employees the opportunity to work differently before severance. 

Q5. Culture is going to be the most important factor for many looking for a new role or staying in their current role, do you have any advice to make company culture a priority in other businesses?

Many businesses are simply playing the old culture game. Nearly 50% of job seekers cite company culture as their reason for looking for a new role, yet companies are still approaching culture like it’s 2001. Back in 2001, organizations previously focused on soft perks such as gym passes, dog-friendly offices, free lunches, beer Fridays, ping pong tables; the list goes on.

In the new world of work post-pandemic, priorities have shifted and organizations must focus on people, building a culture around principles of flexible working, autonomy, recognition and trust. 

Employee Growth Culture is about a human value proposition; not giving employees things. If businesses invest in culture correctly, they’ll see a happier, more productive workforce.

Want to get in touch with Tim, get in touch below: 

On WorkYourWay site // Email Tim // or Tim shares regularly on LinkedIn and are always insightful and actionable. 

Leaders, go and have a great week and consider how you will roll out Tim’s recommendations for the weeks ahead.  

Thanks and speak next week,

Danny Denhard – On a mission to fix the broken world of work

Struggling to understand some of the core topics, here are some invaluable resources: