Work From Here: Blend's New Hybrid Work Model

We'll never again be the company we were a year ago, especially as we continue to weather a global pandemic and adapt to a new "work anywhere" mindset. Here's how Blend is navigating the new landscape of remote and in-person work.

  • Karla Santi
  • Jun. 29 2021

We'll never again be the company we were a year ago.

For multiple reasons, of course — leadership changes, a fast-moving industry, and a global pandemic, to name a few — but through it all we evolved our company in such a positive way that we shouldn't want to be the same or return to "normal." We learned a lot about how we each work individually, as a team, and with our clients provide us the opportunity to look at our business through a new lens. We found there are benefits to sharing a physical space for some things — but not for others. And we found we can run this company from anywhere.

It is an incredible privilege to decide what this next chapter looks like for Blend.

The Work Transition

Our transition to a fully remote team last year was reasonably painless. We're a digital agency, after all.

Project work continued without a hitch — after all, most of our clients are national or international as it is. But the work of staying connected as a team needed some work.

To stay connected as a team while apart, we introduced fun challenges like Blend Bingo, Spirit Week, and a fierce 12 Days of Christmas Countdown competition to infuse a bit of that collaboration and culture into our work-from-home lives. As weeks turned into months, we learned so much about ourselves, how we work together, and the ideal work environment for each of us individually. 

Now, here we are, well over a year later. Our office is back open. But, it’s back open for those who want it. We've decided not to mandate a return to the office — although working from our office downtown IS an option, so is working from home, working full-time remotely, or working from wherever. It's a decision that we've put a lot of thought into, and one we hope serves our company well for years to come.

The pandemic was difficult, without a doubt. But through it all, we've had an opportunity to transform how we work together into an entirely new way of thinking about the work experience at Blend — one that is inclusive, flexible, and ever-evolving. 

Our New Work Models

Moving forward, Blend’s hybrid work models are:

  • Onsite Employees - choose to work in our downtown Sioux Falls location three or more days per week, on average
  • Offsite Employees - choose to work remote three or more days per week, on average, working from the downtown office two or fewer days per week
  • Remote Employees - do not live nearby and do not have the choice to work from our downtown location

Everyone on our team has chosen which model they feel most comfortable with, allowing us to plan our office space accordingly: 

ONSITE EMPLOYEES

  • Primary workspace is at the Blend office
  • Have personal workspaces at the Blend office, including an assigned desk and storage
  • Can utilize any shared space, including collaborative offices and rooms
  • Assigned equipment resides at an office workstation
  • Leased parking

OFFSITE EMPLOYEES

  • Primary workspace is remote
  • Select a shared workspace anywhere in the Blend office, including hot desks
  • Can utilize any shared space, including collaborative offices and rooms
  • Have a dedicated "base" in the office to store bags, keyboard, mouse, and any other personal belongings or work accessories
  • In addition, a second keyboard and mouse will be provided at the Blend office for Offsite Employees, if requested.
  • Reimbursable parking

REMOTE EMPLOYEES

  • Plan to return to Blend’s office for company retreat days 1-2 times per year
  • When visiting Blend, select a shared workspace anywhere in the office, including hot desks

Agile For All

This process has been collaborative. We've encouraged our team to participate in building the new work experience at Blend. It shouldn’t be shocking, but no one wanted to work from the office full-time, five days a week.

  • From our team of 20, 55% wanted to work onsite three or more times per week.
  • Two of our employees work in different states, making up our 11% remote team.
  • And, 41% align as offsite employees coming into the office two or fewer times per week. 

It's possible that people will switch between Onsite or Offsite depending on the season, or after time passes and we adjust to working in an office together again. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but with our team's help, we can create a culture of collaboration, agility, and trust.

work-hybrid-results.jpg

 

Collaboration and Culture

With all of this in mind, we still understand the value of getting everyone together, in the same place, as one group of people.

In the past, this took the form of “mandatory fun” outings, in which we took a company break client work to participate in extracurricular outings, allowing our team to connect in ways beyond working together on a project. In between, we ate soup on Souper Tuesdays or quenched our thirst on a Thirsty Thursday. If there wasn't a real reason to celebrate together, we made one up.

Now, with everyone staggered in and out of the office and around the country, how will this work? Collaboration Days!

Collaboration Days are designed to get together. On the first and third Thursday of each month, we invite the onsite and offsite teams to the office to spend time intentionally working together as a team. We present lunch and learns, do yoga on the rooftop during the summer, work side-by-side on projects, and engage in small talk and camaraderie. Those who can’t make it — including our remote employees — are also present throughout the office on our Zoom Room screens.

We understand Collaboration Days may be our least productive workdays, but it's an investment in our team.

That investment is important. You can’t buy company culture. You can’t take shortcuts. But, you can certainly invest time and effort into building company culture. These are the steps we’re making to balance flexibility and collaboration. To moving from “work from home” to “work from here.”