Hybrid Work Model for a Modern Workforce with Evan Waters

August 4th, 2023
/
10 mins to read
Hybrid Work Model for a Modern Workforce with Evan Waters

Evan Waters discusses the modern workforce and shares his tips and tricks about the hybrid work model.

Named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2017 and recognized with a United Nations World Summit Award in Learning & Education and a Google Material Design Award, Blinkist connects 26 million readers worldwide to the biggest ideas from bestselling nonfiction via 15-minute audio and text. Does hybrid work play a role in this? Evan Waters shares productivity insights and the company work model.

For well over a decade as a digital marketer, Evan has scaled programs across maturities as a startup’s first hire to re-igniting growth at mature, public companies. Working with some of the world’s largest marketplaces and most innovative startups, Evan helps high-growth organizations diagnose growth levers, drive acquisition, craft strategy, and improve data capabilities. 

In this interview, Litespace sits down with Evan to discuss how hybrid work is enforced into Blinkist’s unique company culture that is built on self-organization and transparency. How is productivity maintained and what are the requirements of managing a modern workforce? 

Interview Questions

What work model is Blinkist currently using? How is it being implemented and do you see the company transition into a different model in the near future?

Blinkist uses a hybrid work model. We have a fantastic office and free lunch which makes it easy on our employees who are based in Berlin (Blinkist headquarters). For team members outside of Berlin, we encourage them to work remote-first while empowering them to travel to the office regularly.

Our hybrid model works well for us, and our employee engagement is high. We have no plans on transitioning to another model.

You mentioned not all of your employees are based in Berlin. Does that ever make it difficult to collaborate? How do you ensure equal opportunities for your team?

Aside from our remote employees, many of our Berlin-based employees also work from home a few days per week. We have a remote-first mindset and we support our team with numerous cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions. 

Personally, I find the minimum viable in-person activities can build the right amount of empathy and rapport. For example, employees that are able to go into the office enjoy greater camaraderie and productivity.

It is important that our employees are provided equal opportunities and treated fairly. It starts at the top. The Blinkist leadership team is located across multiple countries, and modeling out remote leadership definitely helps set the tone for the company. 

“We believe great talent can be found from anywhere.”

How do you maintain productivity and team engagement with employees from all across the country and even the world?

To maintain productivity in the hybrid setup, Blinkist offers stipends for the home office, as a generous travel policy to encourage remote employees to come into the office, and has free lunch to encourage local employees to come in. Throughout the year, our amazing People team supports us with various company events and training to ensure all employees feel a part of the Blinkist family and are fully supported to do their job well.

Team engagement is incredibly important at Blinkist. As an organization, we have dedicated days for learning, celebrating company milestones such as our recent sale to Go1 and 10-year anniversary, conducting regular feedback sessions, group coaching, and more.

Trust and communication tend to be the biggest challenges when it comes to hybrid work. Can you talk a little about that as someone who’s experienced managing a remote-first team? 

Trust and communication are important no matter where a team works from! For those in a hybrid workforce, it is even more so. Having managed remote-first for 7 years now, I’ve learned that you should always build on empathy and trust first before providing any kind of feedback, especially if you have not met in person. For example, whenever a new employee starts, we ask them to come into the office to kickstart trust building. We also try to get to know them as an individual, rather than just an employee.

What would you say are the requirements of a modern workforce?

Flexibility is a requirement in managing a modern workforce. When employees are based in different time zones, we must accommodate varying hours and do our best to mitigate requests for non-standard work hours. As a new parent with a varied childcare schedule, I very much value the fact that I can respond to my team at all hours, but they are not expected to do the same.

Setting boundaries and expectations is also crucial. Aside from flexibility, the modern workforce values work-life balance. Our team is rarely 100% present at work or present at home. Just as we expect employees might do some online shopping, check Instagram during the day, or go to a dentist appointment, there is also some expectation that employees check work email or Slack particularly when on a deadline.

“I encourage employees to turn off notifications from their work apps outside of hours, to go audio-only on calls whenever possible, to dial in while on a walk or from a park.”

Do you think hybrid work is here to stay? If so, what can managers expect or do to prepare for the future of work? 

Yes, hybrid work is here to stay. I believe that satellite offices and teams will become the norm where certain teams or functions create geographically distributed clusters. 

Flexible work environments not only benefit younger, mobile generations who dream of working from the beach but also those with family responsibilities such as parents and caregivers. 

“Work and life should not work against one another but rather in support.”

Given the diverse non-work needs of our employees, flexibility must be at the center of any manager’s plan. Some employees will need to pick their kids up from school, some may have recurring doctor appointments, and some may need to minimize holiday flight costs to visit their families. 

Litespace had the pleasure of interviewing Evan Waters who has provided valuable insights and perspectives on best practices of implementing a hybrid work model. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Erica Lim
Erica Lim

Erica is a Marketing Content Analyst at Litespace with a passion to help companies foster stronger corporate culture and better employee engagement in the hybrid work environment. Specializing in marketing and communications, Erica is eager to share her knowledge and research on hybrid work. 

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