October 23, 2020- #ChooseOurOwnAdventure

Updated Timeline for a ‘Return to Office’

In an effort to provide more certainty for all of you in a very uncertain time, we’ve updated some of our thoughts around timing for how a return to office…or some semblance of normalcy will play out.

We will be status quo from now until the end of fiscal 2021 (August 31, 2021). This should give you a lot more direction to plan your own lives. For most everyone, this means you will remain remote until the end of next summer. There are a few roles that have remained in the office from the outset and a few of us stragglers who have tested a return (with many safety protocols in place), but for 95% of the rest of the employees, we will all remain home/remote until August of next year (also, with a few exceptions during active weather). This allows us to keep the safety and health of our employees and workplaces as a top priority, while we watch and prepare for a vaccine and a more full-scale return to normal in the future.

I hope this updated timeline provides some certainty and clarity to plan your work-life balance. A big part of our strategic pillar to Make Pelmorex the #1 Place to Work revolves around employee happiness and satisfaction and based on your feedback and resilience in the face of this pandemic, we’ve made this decision and trust it will land well.

So, with that behind us, now let’s imagine what a future in this new world could look like for us…

Choose Our Own Adventure

We have a strategic plan in place, Our Plan Forward, and as I mentioned above, one of the five pillars of that plan is to make Pelmorex the #1 Place to Work. That’s an ambitious goal, but it’s worth striving for. Over the last 8 months, I’ve seen us get closer to this goal more than ever before. That sounds like a strange comment to make during a global pandemic when we’ve not actually been together in nearly a year, but I feel it’s true. I feel more connected to everyone now more than ever and I’m hearing the same from most employees I speak with. Why is that? I think it’s because we all have a similar goal — help Pelmorex survive and thrive while ensuring our families and our own personal well being is safe, balanced and healthy. We have built deeper trust in one another to help the other get through this — that’s a silver lining.

We’ve proven, through an 8 month alpha test or proof of concept, that employees can work from home (or remotely) and be as productive (if not more so) as before, while also being there more for their family/friends, etc. No commute, so 2 more hours of life back. More time with the kids to experience the day-to-day moments that we often miss while ‘at the office.’ More time for self-care and other passion projects. It’s not perfect and for some of us time in the office may actually be preferred vs. home, but it’s clear that for a majority of you, this flexibility and two-way trust is a massive new opportunity in the making.

So, how do we take this trust, this silver lining, and make it a more long-lasting feature? How do we ensure each of you can optimize your lives while working to optimize our company’s future?

I call it Choose Our Own Adventure.

Though it will take more collective thinking, trialling, new workflow/processes, here is what we envision for our future of work, post-pandemic:

  • A hybrid use of our offices and remote/home work to balance connectivity and social interaction with work/life balance and maximum individual employee life happiness and fulfillment.
  • We self govern as teams and choose our own adventures. Collectively each team finds the right balance of in-office connection time with remote work.
  • And we also choose our own adventure individually and craft a hybrid plan that is optimal for each of us — perhaps, a few days in the office to stay connected and collaborate, the rest at home.
  • For example, in my case — our senior management team, may self govern and decide we’d like to do our weekly 90-minute team meeting in person together in the office on Tuesdays.
  • I think I’d prefer a blend of office and remote, so I may choose to spend Tuesdays and Thursdays in the office and work remotely the balance of the week, while another member of my team may choose a different adventure.
  • And I might like to suggest that once a month we strive to do an All Hands in person and create other office connection time for Oakville/Toronto employees on that one day a month. But we can figure it out together.
  • Of course, we’ll have a few jobs that require them to be in the office or sales folks that need to be close to clients and constantly in their lobbies, etc. but we’ll identify those cases and create some rules and norms for those employees and teams.
  • We’ll also re-imagine our current offices and retool them to better support our connection/innovation/collaboration/team-building/training needs. Our teams can identify these use cases and take advantage of our physical space more like a studio instead of a cube farm. Much of the investment in construction and re-configuration in the past few years in each of our offices will support this flexibility in how office life may change in the future. What we do in the office vs what we do remote can be defined and optimized in each team.
  • But we’ve also discovered over these past 8 months that we can be very productive remotely. We’ve created new norms and new processes to stay connected even from home. We can continue to optimize remote working and give our employees a lot of freedom and choice in their own work/life adventure.
  • If we have folks who don’t feel set up as well as they’d like to be with their home office, we’ll dedicate our Technical Operations team to help optimize remote life. We can have folks come in and pick up desks/chairs and other equipment to ensure they feel good about their home setup; have a hotline for Tech support, etc. We won’t have an allowance or stipend, but we’ll help as much as we can.
  • A few things that won’t change:
  1. Accountability — job performance still matters and the work still needs to get done; we’ll just have some more flexibility built into the system to get it done.
  2. Active weather — for many of our teams, when active weather hits, it’s all hands on deck. That won’t change and will drive how and where we work.
  3. Career development and progression — Do good work, help us grow and you can build a great career here, remotely or in the office. We generally need to do better in this area and be more transparent about how career progression works at Pelmorex, but it won’t matter ‘where’ you work.
  • A few things we will need to test or still need to work out…and a few things I want us to watch out for:
  1. Laws and regulations are still being defined around this potential ‘new normal’ and may differ in each of our office locations around the world and may impact how we do things.
  2. Tax deductibility for home office work and expenses are still not defined by CRA and other bodies; we’ll summarize/document/train on this once it’s clear.
  3. Silos or different camps form — I’ve seen different cultures and ‘camps’ form in Oakville that aren’t necessarily healthy. A first-floor culture; a second-floor culture, etc. We need to guard against this in the new world as well. Well, Sam comes to the office on Tuesday, so I’m going to be there then…or I feel the pressure to come in because my boss is in. Or a meeting goes in the wrong direction because three people are there in person while one is on the Hangout on the TV screen and misses the side conversations. We will need to manage the chaos and manage these pockets as they crop up to ensure we ‘build back better’ and realize the opportunities and solve the challenges.

We have nearly a year to figure some of these things out, define new norms and workflow and set the table well for this shift. As we do with any new process or product, we’ll test, collect data and optimize based on facts, feedback, and make adjustments along the way. But this vision, our company values, business performance and our collective trust in one another will guide any modifications.

In short, as an employee and as a team, get your work done well, from where that best allows you to build a more fulfilling life and maintain optimal work/life balance…and continue to help us make this the #1 place to work…and survive and thrive as a company.

Work as we know it will change forever and we want to lead this change and define it from out in front; we’ve always been out in front of big seismic shifts in the market and this is no different. Let’s do it. Let’s choose our own adventure.

– Sam, President and CEO, Pelmorex Corp