Creating a digital workplace

Many companies like Open, are seeing the benefits of teams working digitally even when it’s safe and healthy to go back to the office. But what will it take to create a fully digital workplace where de-centralised teams can outperform their centralised peers?

Goodbye work from home. Hello digital workplace.

When we first moved to a 100% remote work model, the first thing we noticed was, teams were no longer limited by the people they sat with to get the best ideas flowing. And most importantly, we realised that we can more easily reach and connect with customers over video; accelerating sales and product design. 

This had a positive impact on our culture, driving a shift towards even greater collaboration, speed and innovation. 

And our people have been unanimous that greater flexibility in how they approach work is good for them, their families and their teammates.  

All of this made it an easy decision to commit to building a digital workplace. One where people are empowered to decide how they work and where the company provides the platform as opposed to the rules.  

But what will it take to create a digital workspace? We’re not entirely sure, but here are a few of the key ideas that we’re focussing on.

Shifting from offices to connected work hubs

How we think about offices and the role they play is changing. We’re currently in the process of redesigning our workspaces to suit a new digital working environment. 

This means we’re now focussed on creating:

  • Spaces for intense in-person project collaborations
  • Spaces to host events 
  • Spaces to escape from home

We’re still a fairly lean and early-stage venture, we won’t be spending millions on space design. Rather we’re taking a test and learn approach to explore different spaces and different leasing models. We’ll share more on this as we evolve. 

The digital workplace is a win/win for talent and the regions

When it’s possible to work from anywhere, we believe that many people will choose to locate their homes outside of the traditional (and expensive) tech hubs and cities. The world’s best talent will choose to work from well designed, healthy cities and towns. 

This was the thinking that inspired us to build a hub outside of Sydney in 2019, the goal was to create a competitive employee value proposition by basing teams in some of the world’s most desirable locations. That started with our hub in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and in 2020, and we’re excited to add Queenstown to the mix as our base for our New Zealand located teams.

The winners in the new era will be the towns and regions that attract knowledge workers and the companies that build out the means for teams to connect and work from wherever they choose.

A new rhythm for our digital workspace 

We know that everyone at Open has the skills required to achieve their goals. This includes deciding on how to work and collaborate. So rather than set specific company rules requiring people to be in the office, everyone at Open has the freedom to choose how they work, whilst taking accountability for their productivity and impact on others. 

However, we’ve created some routines to create rhythm within our workplace. These routines help us engage with each other by creating regular opportunities to connect, discover and solve. These are minimum requirements. Teams are responsible for planning how they work together to achieve their goals. 

All_Hands – weekly companywide video updates

All_hub – weekly hub lunches

All_teams – weekly team lead meeting

Co_locate – bi-monthly team leads meeting in the same location

Are you adopting a digital workplace?

There are still plenty of questions about what the future will look like, but we do know that having a digital-first workplace is the future. We’re looking to share stories and ideas with other companies moving to a digital workplace. If you are making similar changes, we’d love to hear from you.

@jasonwilby @OI_Insurance