The State and Future of Flexible Working

December 15, 2023

TRANSFORMING
WORK

WITH
SOPHIE WADE

The State and Future of Flexible Working

The State and Future of Flexible Working

Rob Sadow is the CEO and Co-Founder of Scoop and Creator of the Flex Index. He is a LinkedIn Top Voice on Flexible Work and a Forbes Future of Work 50. Rob shares how his own commuting experiences generated the initial focus on flexible working which morphed during the pandemic as employee behaviors evolved. Rob explains the genesis of the Flex Report, which tracks employers’ workplace policies. He brings insights about employers’ and employees’ changing sentiments during 2023 and the challenges of measuring productivity and workplace policy compliance. Rob describes his expectations for flexible working in 2024 and Scoop’s emphasis on the core issue designing how to work effectively.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[02:45] Rob chooses consulting after college to learn by working with top companies and executives.

[03:58] After a transfer to San Francisco, Rob decides to launch a business with his brother.

[05:52] Scoop addresses commuting pain which Rob is familiar with from high school.

[07:51] When COVID end a significant portion of commutes, Scoop has to reinvent itself.

[09:56] Rob explains their bet in 2020 with the information they had at the time.

[11:19] Society does not adapt to rapid change easily.

[12:28] The two things COVID did to work as we knew it.

[14:27] Rob details the implications of a remote and hybrid operating system.

[17:00] The realization that all that is expected and promised may never come is a stark gift from COVID.

[19:05] How the Flex Index came about.

[22:45] What does scaling a fully remote company look like?

[24:21] The biggest problem facing a fully remote or even hybrid future according to Rob.

[26:13] Rob shares why compliance is complicated with examples of grey areas.

[29:25] What the most successful companies are doing since compliance is challenging to enforce.

[30:45] Rob offers data points reinforcing the broad benefits of offering workforce flexibility.

[32:36] Rob expects recognition of higher performance from employers with flexible working policies will shift sentiment further in 2024.

[34:50] Hybrid is the hardest. We must be intentional about “how” we work.

[37:23] How the Flex Report data is generated and how companies can use this tool to monitor competitors.

[39:16] The Flex Index’s expansion plan to include granular subpolicy information.

[41:09] Productivity is hard to measure and Rob proposes tracking aggregate employee outcomes instead.

[43:49] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To move forward productively in 2024, start with a good recurring cadence of getting feedback from employees on what’s working for them so you can make adjustments. Second, update leadership development to focus on managing outcomes, projects, and performance, checking in on people you don’t see daily. Third, design a better workflow supported by appropriate documentation and tools.

QUOTES

“It is hard for society to adapt to rapid change. Most adoption cycles take decades.”

“We need people who have grown up in this experience. The executives of the future who grew up in a hybrid or remote capacity, and who will usher in a different set of best practices and understanding on what it means to build companies.”

“Hybrid and remote work fundamentally are not just policies, they are operating systems, and they require a different way of thinking about culture building and relationship development and synchronous versus asynchronous work.”

“The biggest problem for a lot of companies is that a lot of CEOs — in their heart of hearts — hope that hybrid work is a way-station on the way back to full-time in office. So, you have a lot of companies that have laid out a policy, but have done no more than that because they're hoping it's transient.”

“Compliance is somewhat meaningless in practice: You are relying on managers who are going to raise the flag on their employees who are not coming into the office, which is a really fast ticket to total loss of employee trust and bad relationships.”

“CEOs that are pushing hard on five days a week in office are almost deliberately not paying attention to the people who can't do that. And for whatever reason, that conversation still hasn't come really to the forefront.”

“I think the companies that are not requiring full-time in the office are going to outperform on recruitment, retention, engagement, satisfaction, and a bunch of different key employee outcomes that most people believe are leading indicators of performance.”

“The best fully remote organizations in the world are unbelievably intentional in terms of when they're online and offline and how they coordinate on those things, where they document things and how they get together in person.”

“Productivity is extremely difficult to measure because there's a different ‘best’ productivity metric for every different role type and it is variant by industry.”