Work where it works

Going into the pandemic, we reacted swiftly to protect our team members and our communities from COVID-19. However, we're coming out of the pandemic with research, organizational feedback and a mindset focused on the future. Research from Gartner, Harvard Business Review and Microsoft – just to name a few – all indicate talent cannot go back to the way things were pre-pandemic.

In our recent engagement survey, we asked a number of questions related to work location. We recognize our production team members fully rely on our facilities and onsite resources to get their work done and we will continue to invest in these environments. Our team members in office-based roles gave us some insight into how they preferred to work. This is what we found:

  • Team members want work location flexibility
  • Team members are more engaged when they have work location flexibility
  • Team members feel connected to culture and can collaborate effectively with work location flexibility

Based on research, benchmarking and team member feedback, we came up with three work location classifications – onsite, hybrid and remote. These classifications are determined based on where the team members’ day-to-day work is best done, with no set number of days in the office for any classification.

We spoke with managers who have teams in each classification to hear why this works for their team and their best practices.

Onsite: Team Member Solutions

Team Member Solutions provides customer service to our team members. From helping with benefits questions to onboarding new team members and welcoming guests onsite, this group is a staple on our Pella campus. We talked with Team Member Solutions Lead Tricia Wisniewski about why the onsite classification works for her team.

"Because we're customer-facing and provide a significant amount of support to team members onsite, it's important to have our team greeting people in-person, sharing benefits information – all of which is not feasible over the phone," shared Tricia. "It offers Vermeer team members a higher level of service if we're onsite."

However, working onsite doesn't mean a lack of flexibility. "We figured out the bare bones of how many people we need to have onsite each day to function," shared Tricia. "Everyone's role has an ability to flex and work remotely for a day here and there."

Even though it's not always ideal, Tricia sees flexibility in any role as a must. "It's really important for my team to be flexible to support their families when they need to, take a day off if sick and to use their paid time off when they can," she said. "Especially for our team with working moms – we want them to stay in the workforce and function well in both spaces.”

Tricia's best practices:

  • Understand how many team members you need onsite at a bare minimum for your team to function.
  • Manage your talent to make space for flexibility so team members can take time away.
  • Communicate the importance of working onsite for your team's mission.

Hybrid: Advanced technology solutions

On the cutting edge of technology at Vermeer is the advanced technology solutions (ATS) team. Situated in Pella and Ames, this group consists of software developers, hardware engineers, product owners, mechanical engineers and test engineers dedicated to exploring and applying new technologies to Vermeer products. This team functions both on- and offsite under the hybrid classification. Senior Systems Engineer Nathan Copeland shares how the hybrid classification works best for his team's important work.

The ATS team found that hybrid was the best work model not only to get their work done, but also for their work-life balance. "Hybrid works because we have a variety of locations where individuals live and have been working from prior to even the pandemic situation, such that driving into Pella every single day was a barrier," shared Nathan. "This cut down on their personal time. We found their work had the capability to be easily accomplished from a mix of the office and their home."

When it comes to keeping work aligned, the ATS software team leans on the Agile development process. "We have stand-up meetings every day, a clear task list of work that's going on over a two-week period and we're reviewing those two-week tasks every day, what was worked on yesterday and what blocks you from you doing things today," Nathan explained.

However, keeping the team aligned on work tasks isn't the only challenge hybrid teams face. At stand-up meetings, Nathan suggests keeping things light with a daily joke, question or word of the day. Nathan also shared how the ATS team stays connected outside of work. "We've had monthly virtual get togethers to play online games," he shared. "There are also team members starting to get together face-to-face again."

Nathan's best practices:

  • Rely on structured, regularly scheduled meetings to keep hybrid teams aligned.
  • Don't get complacent with feeling like your team is running smoothly – lean into asking how people are feeling connected to work that they're doing.
  • Bring some comfort and humor to those regular stand-up activities.

Offsite: Market and business team insights

The market and business insights (MBI) team helps create an information-driven culture at Vermeer. They deliver this through research, technology, data and visualizations that they transform into actionable insights for Vermeer business leaders to make informed decisions. Market and Business Insights Manager Kyle Gauley gave us the scoop on why working offsite works for his team.

The MBI team is often deep in research and data-heavy projects. It made sense for them to do this offsite where they could focus with limited interruptions from activity in the office.

Before getting into any best practices, Kyle shared the key to a successful offsite team – trust. "There can't be a fear to put things out there in [Microsoft] Teams where it's there forever," shared Kyle. "Trusting each other to respect ideas and feeling confident in posting ideas are necessary for an offsite team."

Without the proper infrastructure, working offsite never could have happened. The MBI team relies heavily on technology like Microsoft Teams to stay connected, collaborate on work and share ideas. Like the ATS group, the MBI team also scheduled regular huddles to align. "We have an almost-daily huddle. The agenda is just a pulse, what you're working on and items to collaborate on. These help align and reduce duplicated efforts," Kyle explained. "With this agenda, we worked more collaboratively offsite than we did while onsite together."

Outside of an almost-daily huddle, the team also holds a monthly onsite team-building day. For this day, the team gets together for ice breakers, team-building activities and a training session on a new tool or reporting method. Each month, a different team member leads. This helps keep the team connected and enables them to learn and grow together.

Kyle's best practices:

  • Focus on building trust within your team by creating a safe environment for creativity and collaboration.
  • Make sure your team has the technology and resources to collaborate efficiently offsite.
  • Incorporate a huddle cadence that keeps the team connected and schedule time for focused project work where the entire team can assist with a large project.

We believe our campus is critical to the future of our culture. And we believe flexibility is critical to the future of our talent. We are confident in our leadership and team members to carry out this new work model well. Where we get our work done may change, but its importance remains. Together, we are Equipped to Do More.

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