In physics, a collision is any event in which two or more bodies exert forces on each other in a relatively short time. At Aercoustics, collision is our way of increasing collaboration and keeping our office culture alive.
Our original plan was to kick off the New Year with our inaugural Collision Day but as another pandemic wave hit, it was put on hold as we continue to work from home. When we do return, we know some people will be eager to return to the office but others will be less enthusiastic. Many will embrace the hybrid set-up and we support our employees in whatever return to work model best suits their needs.
But we also know the value of collaboration. So, every other Thursday, we will be inviting the Aercoustics team into the office for a Collision Day. This is a day dedicated to ensuring all our team members interact, collaborate and see each other. It’s our way of ensuring we come together while working apart.
Collision is all about unstructured colliding, so members of our team will arrive at varying times for organic meetings, conversations, lunches, coffees and opportunities to integrate.
We felt it was important to launch this initiative as many team members have moved further away and working from home more often. Having this day every other week ensures our office culture is kept alive and people have a standard day to come in and meet without having to mandate a return to the office.
This is different from our Rogue Days where team members take time out of their day-to-day to work on projects or ideas that aren’t necessarily related to work projects. For example, one of our team members, Aron Sigurdsson recently designed a guitar pedal. This is an opportunity to go rogue with ideas and creations. Collision Day, by contrast, brings people in to work together in the office so that there are opportunities to collaborate, socialize and build rapport. It put some structure around meeting and seeing each other without being heavy handed and directive.
The team response is very positive. People enjoy the flexibility and appreciate there is not a mandate to be in the office for a set number of days each week. It allows them to control their days and schedules and they can determine what works best for them, without any management intervention.
We are also investing money to make sure that we are set-up in the most optimal way to allow for hybrid meetings. We have redone our hybrid microphone systems and boardrooms to ensure we can have effective meetings even if everyone is not in the room. We use various platforms like Gather to have cool meeting spots online and we host townhalls where a perk of attending is a catered lunch. We also host many social events to keep our office culture alive. By nature of the work we do, this is a collaborative team so we share ideas through Microsoft Teams, have morning stand up meetings to get everyone started on the right foot and we are always promoting our motto, “we’re in it together”.
The Return to Work
The pandemic continues to challenge office planning. As we manage the situation, we determined that whenever the time comes, our return-to-work plan would be flexible. If the two years have taught us anything, it is that flexibility, adaptability, resiliency and having a growth mindset is key. We want to keep our office culture and collaboration alive but don’t want to be heavy-handed in mandating a return. The way we work has permanently changed, and we trust our team to work in the most optimal space for them. Some prefer to work at home with no commute, while others need the structure of the office and prefer to be present. Collision Days every other Thursday allows us to have one day we know our full team will come together and isn’t too frequent that it puts an undue burden on people.
Ultimately each company needs to do what is best for them and their business, but the days of thinking people are working because you can see them at their desks, or that the best way to manage is in person, or that forcing people into the office means your culture will be better are gone.
We don’t know yet what the ideal plan looks like because there are many variables to consider and test. The name of this game is to be nimble. We need to listen to our employees and what they want because when they feel heard, appreciated and engaged, they are ultimately the happiest. And if the arrangement we choose doesn’t work for the team in the long-term, we will re-evaluate because flexibility will be the key for the eventual return to work.