The ideal balance between office and home
After two years of almost continuously working from home, at Providit we’re returning to the office but not as before. More than ever, we’re looking forward to meeting our colleagues and customers face-to-face. And it will also make it much easier for our new colleagues to get to know the Providit company culture.
Before the coronavirus crisis, most of the Providit team worked on site with the customer 5 days a week. That environment was their second home. We also regularly met at our headquarters in Kontich for meetings and to talk with our colleagues. But when we had to switch to mandatory home working, the transition went smoothly. The staff already had the devices and tools they needed to work remotely for almost all of our customers. So even though everyone was suddenly working from home, our projects could continue as usual.
Although we were able to continue with our jobs, we noticed that many colleagues were eager to come back to the office. So as soon as the government allowed it, we made that possible. Many team members now come into the office twice a week. But it’s not mandatory. We leave it up to each staff member. We provide stability at the office — so there’s always someone there — and we’ve taken every possible measure to ensure it remains a safe environment.
The past two years has put every employer in a unique situation. In particular, the distance — literally and figuratively — between the employee and the company increased. However, we took many initiatives to keep in touch informally. At first, we had informal lunch meetings with colleagues via videoconference twice a week. As Corona took longer and longer, we reduced it to once a week to avoid “online fatique”. We even sent out barbecue packages. Still, it was a challenge to maintain team spirit.
What we clearly see today, now that we can return to the office, is that it’s absolutely crucial for the team spirit to meet in person on a regular basis. This is especially important for new colleagues, because the office is still the best place to get a feeling of the atmosphere and culture of a company. At the same time, a lot has changed in recent months. For example, during job interviews candidates ask how many days they’ll be working in the office, and they assume it won’t be every day.
But — and this has changed too — there has to be a good reason to come to the office. It turns out that one of those reasons is the informal day-to-day contact. But professional contact is also important — being able to quickly ask someone a question about a project, without having send an email or set up a videoconference. Certainly for new colleagues or interns, who may have just made the switch to low-code development, it’s much more convenient if they have someone in the office who can act as a sounding board.
Our customers are once again asking to see our staff on site, even though things may never return to exactly how they were before. If the coronavirus has resulted in one positive thing, it might be that we’ve made 10 years’ progress in the area of working from home in the space of 2 years. You used to be ‘allowed’ to work from home for one day a week. Today, the situation has completely turned around, even for those who used to work on location with the customer. In the past, the customer’s site was the default workplace. Today it’s home. That requires a certain adjustment in terms of presence. To keep track of where everybody is working, we have developed a custom tool. In the past, when the default workplace was the customer office, you had to indicate when you wouldn’t be at the client and that e.g. you would be working from home for that client. Today you indicate when you’re not working from but rather at our office or the customer office.
We keep growing
In the meantime, Providit continues to grow rapidly. In 2021 we welcomed nine new colleagues to the team. In 2022, we plan to keep growing. It was sometimes a challenge to include them from a distance. A different dynamic established itself due to homeworking. That’s why we look forward to coming into the office more often and offering everyone a welcoming, safe working environment. Fortunately, working from home didn’t put the brakes on our business, and we’re convinced that the future looks a lot better, with a good balance between time spent working at the office and at home.
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