In a recent study done on the future of the workplace by Dr. Marie Pyybaraud of Global Workplace Solutions, two of the primary hypotheses are

  • “The Smart Workplace 2040 will be radically different and redefined by adaptable, radical working patterns”, and
  • Choice: “Workers will decide where and how they want to work.”

Our customer FlexJobs is founded on these same beliefs. Given their success, it’s pretty clear they are onto something here. We recently caught up with Carol Cochran, their Director of Human Resources to talk about how FlexJobs, a 100% virtual company, nurtures their sense of team trust and privacy.

People need to be given a place to do their work without changing the way they do it.

“So much of our culture is built on trust, and making work and life fit together,” Carol related. “One of the things that we spent serious time considering was our collaboration platform. We didn’t want it to change the way anyone worked, and we didn’t want anyone to think we were keeping tabs on people. We have ways of managing of productivity that don’t involve measuring time in the office. We wanted an engagement and communication tool, that’s it.”

She continues, “We selected Sococo because it feels more natural. You have interactions and engagements with people, because you can see who’s around.  We have flexible schedules, so we find that we collaborate a lot more than we did before starting to use Sococo, because it’s so easy. We don’t pressure people to be on at any given point. Many people just do – they like being there, even if they don’t interact with others very much.”

Presence management needs to be unobtrusive in a trust-based, distributed team culture

One of Carol’s favorite aspects of Sococo is the ability to ensure collaboration is working for her team. “I’m able to see people collaborating in Sococo that I wouldn’t notice if we were in a physical space together. We’ve always had synergy between different teams and worked hard to maintain it. It’s so rewarding to actually see it in play. I can see when people who don’t normally collaborate are interacting – it’s a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the company without being too big brother-y.  It allows the privacy needed and is not invasive, which is very, very important in our culture.”

Virtual team health emerges in observable patterns

As Director of HR, Carol has a keen sense for how her team members operate. She relates, “Two weeks ago, I noticed a co-worker wasn’t around for two days and I started to worry because I knew she was near the end of her pregnancy. I gave her a ring just to make sure everything was good with her.” As it turned out, her co-worker was just fine – she’d had to reboot her computer, and forgotten to launch Sococo again. “People get used to your patterns. If I do know someone is off their pattern, I’m going to reach out and see if everything is OK.”

Having a home base where you spontaneously interact gives the team a sense of belonging

FlexJobs has a social, productive and efficient team. “They really, really want that ability to be social and funny with people,” Carol explains. “And not only in the work sense, either. We need to have spontaneous, fun social interactions – it’s just part of our culture. Along the same lines, if someone’s having a bad day, now they can just pop into my office and rant if they need to. It’s important for it not to feel obtrusive.” She grins. “And also, I don’t have to smell anyone’s stinky tuna fish sandwiches in the lunch room.” Another win for Sococo!

Carol is really pleased with the way FlexJobs has been able to develop their culture on a 100% virtual team. “It’s been a great experience watching this team grow. Operating as we do, it gives credence to what we’re doing as a company. We are walking the walk that we promote to our customers – proof that remote work life can not only function, but be really, really successful.”