Listening and The Power of Team-Level Agreements

Gallup recently found that only 12% of hybrid workers benefit from hybrid policies decided by their individual team.

Crucially — they also found that this small group is also the most engaged.

It seems that when employees are given the trust and autonomy to make their own decisions — and be really heard by their team members — they become more satisfied as a result.

As Head of People and Partnerships at Kadence, my job is all about helping the people around me flourish at work.

In this piece I’ll guide you through what we’ve learned at Kadence about the power of listening to your teammates — and how it keeps us organized and focused on outcomes.

And check out this conversation I had with the wonderful Brian Elliott about what it means to listen and support teams.

Communication: The Foundation of Hybrid Work

At Kadence, our mission is helping companies to find the right rhythm of work for their unique teams.

Our employees work between San Francisco and Amsterdam, and every single one of us has the option to choose how and where we get our work done.

The distribution of our team, while being a great illustration of what it means to be fully hybrid, has shown us loud and clear the importance of strong communication in hybrid teams. It can be tricky to coordinate employees who are spread over the world, let alone keep them happy and fulfilled at work. Good communication is the foundation.

Our technology is built precisely for this. By providing our employees with tools to help manage their schedules, coordinate with colleagues, and make sure they’re in the right place at the right time, we ensure everyone has access to a base layer of communication. Schedule management is about more than just logistics — it’s about sharing the when, where and what of work with your teammates, so you can coordinate and communicate with them better.

These tools have helped us become a better company, where our distributed teams feel connected despite the distances.

But we’ve also found that none of this would make sense without first ensuring we have the first part of communication in place – listening.

The Importance of Listening

Experts in the field of work agree that keeping open communication channels and practicing active listening are one of two key factors in employee retention and satisfaction.

Listening is powerful.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The feeling of being listened to is one of the most validating things you can experience, whether in your personal or professional life.

When it comes to navigating the ins and outs of hybrid work, listening is all about understanding the unique preferences and needs of each individual employee.

Those preferences extend to the frequency of office-based work, team meetings, company-wide gatherings and other specific hybrid work routines.

At Kadence, we hold regular feedback sessions on company and team levels to ensure our employees have the feeling they are actively being heard, and give them a platform to air any concerns or developments in their navigation of flexible work.

One of our most successful team-level agreements is that employees set their own agendas for 1:1s with managers. Those moments of discussion shouldn’t be managers “checking up” on their teammates but rather employees feeling comfortable raising any number of topics that have been on their mind.

Through encouraging active listening to each other, we hope to head towards a rhythm of work where everyone in the company feels fully heard and understood.

Documenting Discussions: TLAs

In the journey towards staying connected and coordinated as a distributed team — we’ve understood that alignment is even more powerful when it’s done on the team level. And when it’s put down in writing!

TLAs – or “team-level agreements” – have been a game changer for making sure we document and keep to the discussions we have about where, when and how we do work. Just because our team is spread out over various countries, it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice on alignment and connection.

Team-level agreements leave the finer details of hybrid work entirely up to our individual teams. Through open discussion and constant iteration, teams can decide for themselves:

  • Their core working hours
  • The team rituals
  • Their balance of remote and in-person work
  • Their main communication channels and work tools

We believe that sweeping hybrid company policies aren’t useful when it comes to ensuring everyone is on the same page about how and where to do work. Everyone just ends up on their ”own” page!

By giving our teams the power and autonomy to choose a work system that makes most sense for them and as part of the whole culture — we hope to see our people flourish and grow more than ever.

And by encouraging them to get their team values and rituals down as tangible agreements, we ensure the work we put towards listening to each other translates to concrete actions.

At Kadence, we’re constantly editing the blueprint out for ourselves. We see hybrid and flexible work as living things — not simple company policies established once and for all.

For that reason, we’ve found communication to be crucial: especially when trying to make sense of a distributed team.

We encourage as much discussion and feedback as possible, and our hope with that is to continue learning together about the challenges we will inevitably face as a hybrid organization.

Only that way can we continue to optimize the experience here — while bringing out the best in our people, and ultimately our business.

To find out more, check out some of our other available resources or book a demo with the team to see how Kadence can transform your workplace.

Transforming the Public Sector with Andy Lake

As we step into a future where the lines between our professional and personal lives are increasingly blurred. The need for smarter, more flexible workspaces has never been more apparent.

The public sector, traditionally seen as a bastion of the ‘old ways’ of working, is now at the forefront of this transformation.

I recently sat down with Andy Lake, a leading figure in the world of flexible and smart working, to discuss how the public sector can evolve to not just keep pace with the private sector, but lead by example in creating dynamic, inclusive, and effective work environments.

The evolution of work

The journey towards smart workplaces isn’t just about adopting new technologies or policies — it’s about fundamentally rethinking the relationship between our work and our lives.

For too long, the rigidity of the 9-to-5, office-bound work model constrained the potential of our institutions to innovate and adapt.

Now that the private sector is swiftly moving towards a system that’s less about where you spend your time and more about how you spend your time — our public institutions are in the unique position of being able to follow a blueprint being laid out for them.

By embracing smart flexibility, the public sector can become an environment that adapts to the needs of its most valuable asset: its people.

Smart flexibility goes beyond the option to work from home on a Friday or to start the day an hour early. It’s about creating a culture where flexibility is woven into the very fabric of how an organization operates. A framework of trust between employer and employee based on the understanding that it’s more than possible to be in control of a flexible work schedule.

The challenge for the public sector

The public sector faces unique challenges in this transformation. From local government offices to national healthcare services, the range of functions and responsibilities is vast.

But these challenges also present unique opportunities. By adopting a holistic approach to smart working, public institutions can set new standards for workplace innovation, inclusivity, and agility.

So where should a public sector organization start its journey towards becoming a smart workplace? It begins with leadership.

Transformational change requires buy-in at all levels, from the executive team to frontline staff.

This means engaging in open dialogues about priorities, challenges, and aspirations, and developing a shared vision for the future of work within the organization.

At the heart of smart flexibility is the empowerment of teams and individuals to work in ways that best suit their roles, tasks, and personal circumstances. This requires a shift in management style, from overseeing to facilitating, enabling employees to perform at their best, wherever and whenever that may be.

Technology as an enabler

Technology will play a crucial role in the evolution of the public sector and smart working.

Hybrid work platforms like Kadence offer public sector organizations the tools they need to manage flexible work models, coordinate teams effectively, and ensure that their resources are utilized optimally.

They give employers and employees a platform to flourish in a coordinated hybrid system, where everyone is aligned on the where and when of work.

With features that help managers set up regular team meetings in the office, notify employees when their colleagues have booked a room or desk, and high-level statistics on office occupancy and usage, a hybrid operating platform is a must for any institution looking to become more flexible.

When the right technology comes accompanied by a commitment to training, support, and continuous improvement — the sky is the limit for the public sector.

Looking ahead

As we move beyond the pandemic and into an era of rapid societal and technological change, the public sector has an opportunity to lead by example in creating work environments that are not only more flexible and efficient — but also more human.

By embracing the principles of smart flexibility, public institutions cannot only improve their operational effectiveness but also enhance the well-being of their employees and the communities they serve.

Transforming deep rooted work systems is not just a response to the challenges of the present, but a commitment to a more adaptable, resilient, and inclusive way of working.

The key? Communication, openness, and commitment to a better future for all of us.

Dave Cairns joins Kadence as Future of Work Strategist

We’re delighted to welcome thought leader, Dave Cairns, to the Kadence team as our new Future of Work Strategist.

Dave brings an excellent set of relationships and a clear perspective on the future of work, following his time as the Senior Vice President of Office Leasing at CBRE Canada. Dave’s focus has been on working with high growth companies in the tech sector, Space as a Service Operators, and with financial services firms on a local, national and global level.

As a leading voice in the industry, his advocacy for distributed working has established him as a leading voice on LinkedIn whose insights have significantly shaped the conversation around how global organizations are thinking about new ways of working.

Transitioning from a successful career as a professional poker player to a prominent office leasing broker for some of the world’s most respected companies, Dave has demonstrated a remarkable ability to anticipate shifts in the workplace landscape. During the pandemic, his foresight into the future of the office market has been greatly lauded. His work focuses on how hybrid work models have become the default, how they can be optimized and how distributed work enables opportunities to be spread more evenly.

Dave Cairns expressed his enthusiasm about joining Kadence, stating: 

“Workplace leaders have known for some time that the office hasn’t performed optimally, but no one could have predicted that the rest of the world would become self-aware at the same time. We now have a generationally defining opportunity to reshape how we work faster. It’s this backdrop and this moment that has me beyond excited to join Dan and the whole Kadence team! I’m looking forward to leveraging my deep understanding of distributed work from my days as a pro online poker player and my 10+ years, 1,000+ transaction track record as an office leasing agent to a company redefining employee experience and workplace performance at scale.”

CEO and Founder, Dan Bladen, commented:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Dave to the Kadence team. Dave’s work will play a pivotal role in amplifying Kadence’s values to a wider audience, and ensuring that we continue to deliver solutions that meet the evolving needs of forward-thinking businesses.”
Dan Bladen
CEO & Founder

Kadence is committed to building the next generation of hybrid workplace management software by coordinating companies’ most expensive resources: people and spaces. The most successful will consist of teams who are intentional about what they are working on, who they need to work with, and where the work should be done.

Kadence is ready to help you find your rhythm for work. Book a demo with us today and discover how you can transform your workplace experience.

Rethinking Productivity: Embracing Outcomes in Hybrid Work

Is your company moving towards a hybrid model of work? Are you worried how you can ensure employee productivity when they are not in the office?

HR managers find themselves at the forefront of delivering success when companies move to the hybrid model. There are natural concerns about:

  • optimising productivity
  • ensuring policy compliance
  • inspiring office attendance
  • retaining company culture

These can feel daunting as companies embrace flexible working. However, the key to success might not lie in traditional notions of productivity. Flexible working advisor, Brian Elliott, told us how in his years working for and with hybrid companies, success has been found in redefining the outcomes.

Hear Brian Elliott speak to Kadence’s VP of People & Partnerships, Helen Attia, about embracing outcomes over productivity.
Navigating the Hybrid Policy Conundrum

Hybrid work policies are becoming the norm, with employees splitting their time between home and the office. Let’s be clear: leaders are worried about how they ensure employees are productive with the time they have. HR managers grapple with the task of ensuring compliance with these policies.

Instead of enforcing rigid rules, focus on cultivating a culture of trust and flexibility. Trust empowers employees, fostering a sense of loyalty that transcends physical boundaries. Rather than scrutinizing every minute of remote work, shift the emphasis towards measurable outcomes.

By setting clear expectations, employees are encouraged to manage their time efficiently. This results in increased autonomy and accountability. This not only reduces the need for micro-management, but also promotes a healthier work-life balance.

Motivating Office Time Beyond the Winter Blues

The winter months can cast a chill over employees’ enthusiasm for commuting to the office. HR managers face the challenge of motivating the workforce to step out of their cozy home offices.

Rather than relying on traditional incentives, consider the intrinsic motivations that drive employees. Create a workplace environment that encourages group work, innovation, and social connection. Highlight the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Emphasize the value of in-person collaboration for creativity and team dynamics.

It’s more than just inspiring employees to attend the office. They want to have their own motivations for coming into the office. You don’t need to persuade your teams, if they already feel compelled to join.

Allow employees to choose office days when they feel the most productive. This acknowledges personal needs and ensures that the office remains a vibrant hub of activity. As a knock-on effect, each employee will have fonder memories of the office. It’s likely they will want to come back.

Retaining Company Culture in a Hybrid World

Company culture was once nurtured within the confines of a physical office space. HR managers must preserve its essence, while employees navigate a new work model.

Rather than fixating on physical proximity, emphasize shared values and goals that transcend location. Be inclusive. Leverage technology to bridge the virtual divide. Consider virtual team-building activities, regular town hall meetings, and collaborative projects. These can strengthen the bonds among team members.

Solutions like Hybrid Work Management Software help ease your team into being apart and can help them organize their time. Their team will know when everyone is in the office or remote, without the need of fussy spreadsheets that cause frustration.

Encourage open communication channels. Ensure employees feel heard and valued regardless of their physical location. Grow a community in teams. This cultivates a resilient company culture that permeates from each team and thrives in both physical and virtual spaces.

Outcomes Over Metrics

Metrics like revenue per employee or hours worked can lead to a myopic view of productivity. HR managers must recognize that the true measure of success lies in the outcomes produced, not just the inputs.

Shift your mindset from tracking every minute to assessing tangible results. Instead of micro-managing remote hours, concentrate on the quality and impact of the work being produced. Allow employees the freedom to choose when and where they work best. Trust that they will deliver results.

In a results-oriented approach, employees are empowered to take ownership of their work. This autonomy not only enhances job satisfaction, but also promotes creativity and innovation. Break free from outdated metrics and employees will be motivated by the desire to achieve meaningful outcomes.

And when looking at metrics, look at your team’s retention rate. That will give you an idea on whether your team are happy or not. That will give you a sense of whether they have the incentive to be productive.

Breaking Free from Traditional Terms

The companies that succeed at hybrid work are those that fully embrace flexibility. The term ‘hybrid’ suggests that there is mandated office time. Brian prefers to think of companies working flexibly.

The terms “hybrid”, “productivity”, and “remote” are laden with preconceived notions. These may hinder the true potential of flexible work. It’s time for HR managers to embrace a more dynamic and inclusive vocab.

Rather than focusing on hybrid work policies, consider adopting a “flexible work culture.” This shift emphasizes adaptability and responsiveness to personal needs. Avoid fixating on productivity. Prioritize impactful outcomes and highlight the tangible contributions that make a difference.

Embracing Change: A Call to Action for HR Managers

HR managers must lead the charge in redefining how we perceive and approach work in the modern era. The challenges presented by hybrid work are opportunities. Innovate and create a workplace that thrives in the face of change.

The roadmap includes:

  1. Designing for Distributed Teams: Tailoring workplaces to the needs of distributed teams. Avoid enforcing top-down mandates.
  2. Prioritizing Focus Time: Investing in more asynchronous ways of working. Give employees the focus time needed for exceptional performance.
  3. Leadership Focused on Outcomes: Build leaders who prioritize outcomes over managing like hall monitors. Foster a culture of achievement.
  4. Investing in Tools and Training: Provide the necessary digital tools and training to support successful remote work. Reimagine workspaces as hubs for connection and teamwork.

HR managers can pave the way for a future where work is not confined by the traditional constraints of productivity. Prioritize outcomes over metrics. Cultivate a culture of trust and flexibility. Inspire genuine connections in the office. Redefine your terms to reflect our new reality.

Success is not measured in hours spent in the office or the number of Zoom meetings attended. It’s about the impact we make, the connections we foster, and the resilient cultures we build. Take the lead and champion a shift that empowers your teams to thrive in the evolving landscape of work.

Brian Elliott, one of Forbes’ “Future of Work 50,” is a speaker and leadership advisor. He combines 25 years of leadership experience as a startup CEO and executive at Google and Slack, while leading Future Forum, a think tank focused on the future of work.

He’s the bestselling author of How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams To Do the Best Work of Their Lives, a LinkedIn Top Voice, has been published in Harvard Business Review. Brian is also the proud dad of two young men and one middle-aged dog.