Does one size fit all? The hyperpersonalization of work

Does one size fit all? The hyperpersonalization of work

By Scio Team

Are you an office person, or a home person?” might have been a weird question to ask in a job interview a couple of years ago, but as our relationship with jobs evolves, we begin to understand the different ways people see work, which have an immense weight in the ways we relate and engage with a particular organization.

Let’s think back for a second and ask ourselves: since the pandemic began, what was the biggest difference we felt working from home? It’s not difficult to imagine that everyone had a different reaction to this change: some found themselves missing the interactions of the office, while others found that working from home was an ideal arrangement, and a third group looked for a middle ground working at the office some days, and from home the others. So the question is: do you have a preference? Does that impact your work?

The equilibrium between productivity and presence is one of the hardest to master in business”, mentions this Forbes article analyzing this situation. “We often think of ourselves separate from the environment, the system, the culture, the work. In reality, there is very deep interconnectedness to our being.” 

In other words, the environment in which we collaborate affects the results we have and is clear that people, as individuals, have personal preferences in the ways they work. And if that conclusion might seem obvious, it seemed to need the upheaval of a pandemic for many companies to start harnessing this newfound approach.

It’s a shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach of the past, where the work is designed (complete with open-plan offices, fluoro-lighting, 9:00 am starts and a five-day workweek) and then people are squeezed into it”, says an article published by the news network ABC. “But one size never really fits all.” 

This gives us an idea: is it possible to ensure that a collaborator can have more control over the conditions of their work? Yes, and it’s becoming a topic of discussion everywhere, especially in Tech, where disruption of the status quo is the name of the game: Hyperpersonalization.

The rise of Hyperpersonalization

Does one size fit all?: The hyperpersonalization of work

How do you prefer to work? Where? When? Why? Everyone has a different answer to these questions, so collaborating in an environment that takes them into account makes all the difference in our productivity. In software development, for example, this was already a trend before the pandemic, with things like having the option to work from home one day a week or offering different hours depending on personal preference becoming normal.

However, the pandemic came to be one of the final blows at our traditional “office hours”, with a big percentage of people discovering ways to work that they really couldn’t consider before, changing the way many organizations collaborate with employees.

In the past, workplace strategists were able to assign flexible working ratios based on a team and its primary functions. With the mass-scale adoption of hybrid working, the preferences of employees coming into the office have become hyper-personalized. We can no longer assume an employee or team will be in on specific days due to their job function or demographic”, indicates the blog The Pulse about this trend.

And it’s easy to see how these circumstances might define the outcome of any given project. After all, are your most productive times the same as everybody else’s? Is your home the best place to get things done? Or do you like to be at home, but also have the option of an office for important meetings or access to better infrastructure if you need it?

“Hyper personalization is usually associated with marketing products and services to individual consumers — think about how Netflix builds up a profile of what you like to watch and uses that to suggest content to you or the way Spotify serves up new songs based on what you’ve listened to before — but it can also be applied to the workplace”, continues the ABC article about the topic. “The pandemic gave many workers a chance to dip a toe into the hyper-personalization waters.

However, what does hyper-personalization actually look like in action? Because we must keep in mind that this concept encompasses lots of different elements, ones that go from the business you are working from, to the individual interests and affinities of each developer and collaborator.

I’ve been part of some very long projects”, says Carlos Estrada, one of the Lead Developers at Scio. “And one time, after six or seven years with the same client, I told Rodimiro [Scio’s Service Delivery Manager and Co-Founder] that I just felt in a rut, doing the same thing every day. He understood and said he had a couple of projects I could help with during my “dead” hours at Scio. I liked that openness, and it helped me explore other types of tasks that I was interested in.

As this anecdote shows, “hyper-personalization” doesn’t have to be a complete upheaval in a company; just being listened to and working with an organization open to making changes by offering options for different types of people, can go a long way. To this end, that same ABC article we quoted earlier gives us some questions to consider and discuss hyper-personalization, and define where you want to direct your career:

  • When and how do you work your best, and in what environment
  • What you find engaging and meaningful
  • Where your strengths lie
  • The ideal place of work and your desired mix of responsibilities

What options exist today?

To account for the hyper-personalized preferences of the workforce, many organizations are developing workforce personas to better understand employee preferences beyond just their job function or demographic”, and you might be seeing these efforts starting to take hold.

For example, while Scio is a Nearshore company with developers all over Latin America, which are permanent remote collaborators, for those locally in Morelia we plan to implement a “hybrid” model of work, where the week is divided between home and office days. Also, we offer different start and finishing times, in case you prefer something different than the traditional 9 to 6, and three days of PTO in case you need to take time off for any personal reason, among other options aimed at our collaborators as individuals who have different affinities and preferences.

When it comes to creating the right culture of an organization and/or building an attractive brand, the question actually becomes how do we rethink our existence, policies, and structures so that it can reflect (as authentically as possible) some of our deepest values, ways of connecting and working?”, concludes Forbes.

And this last question is at the heart of it: the ways we connect as individuals with our jobs matter, so choosing an organization that understands, respects, and tries to implement measures to give collaborators some freedom to work as they see fit is invaluable to foster a healthy, engaged culture. 

Would you have it any other way?

Mythbusting: Has productivity changed in the Age of Remote Work?

Mythbusting: Has productivity changed in the Age of Remote Work?

Productivity is among the top-of-mind issues many companies getting into remote work are considering, and there’s a lot of information out there about its benefits and its drawbacks. So we looked closely at some of the myths about remote productivity and found very interesting stuff to discuss. Enjoy!

By Scio Team

It’s very clear now that our way of looking at work has changed, and the future of this relationship is just starting to be clear now. One could argue that remote work was an inevitability, the natural next step in many industries (technology and software especially) that don’t really require people to be on-site to collaborate and work together well.

However, as we’ve been discussing through interviews with Scio’s Founder and CEO Luis Aburto, and Senior Project Manager Jesús Magaña, there are a lot of moving parts involved in a successful remote work model, and one of the big questions when this trend picked up steam in 2020 was “would productivity remain the same?”

The answer was yes, and it even increased in many cases, but why? What are the mechanisms behind good productivity when working remotely or from home, what myths and facts get involved with the new normal way to work, and how can we harness its advantages for a modern organization?

Myth #1: Productivity is the only measure of success.

Truth: 

One of the most interesting insights we got from our interview with Luis was that “the health of a team cannot be measured only in productivity terms”, referring to their emotional well-being and offering the appropriate support, watching out for signs of burnout, and he’s far from the only one to realize this.

Last year, Microsoft published a list of seven trends of remote work, and among them was the insight that “high productivity is masking an exhausted workforce”, which is important to understand why remote work is taking such a foothold, even beyond the pandemic. Workers today are finding out many advantages when working from their homes, and companies are seeing benefits allowing flexibility, because it generally results in a better life balance, and thus mental health.

Now, of course, productivity is important for any industry, and a software company needs to keep a close eye on the team’s progress to make sure a project is hitting its deadlines, but sometimes those requirements have an unrelated cost that can be alleviated with more freedom in the way we chose to work.

A hybrid model, where a collaborator only goes to the office a couple of days a week, or when they need the space for whatever reason (like meeting with clients or having Internet problems at home) works best, as it offers a way to keep up with the organization, while also leaving elbow room to attend your personal life.

Myth #2: Productivity happens continuously for everyone.

Fact:

Around 75% of workers polled by Microsoft mentioned that flexibility in their work hours is one of the top things they are looking for in a new job, and that tracks with the upcoming “Gen Z” entering the workforce during a pandemic.

The explanation behind that is simple: for many people, focus and productivity happen in bursts, and they do not always synchronize with the traditional 9:00 to 5:00, five days a week work schedule. Working remotely gives options, and letting the collaborator choose what suits them best allows for a better application of skills and effort, which is in the best interest of any organization.

Companies like Twitter, which implemented a permanent remote model, or Microsoft, which is experimenting with plenty of options (like working at the office until 3:00 pm to avoid rush hour in traffic), are seeing the benefits of this philosophy, and letting a collaborator adapt according to their bursts and stretches of productivity lends well to an industry that needs creativity and focus as often as software development.

This goes back to achieving a better balance in daily life. Having the ability to adjust to the day depending on the type and volume of work to be done. Do you need to collaborate with others or just get in and get some detailed coding work done?  Having more than one check-in/check-out time (like we enjoy at Scio), can make a difference to an individual’s productivity.

Myth #3: Productivity depends entirely on the person.

Fact:

A big negative side-effect of moving away from in-person work at the office was the infrastructure needed to keep productivity moving along. From security measures to VPNs, and other reliable ways to connect to a company’s servers and have all the information you need at your disposal, it certainly resulted in slowdowns while many offices adjusted. 

Companies like Scio, which are no strangers to these set-ups and have a lot of experience knowing what works and what doesn’t, know very well the value of selecting the right tools to keep everyone moving forward. In the case of a Nearshore company, for example, it also helps to build teams capable of adapting to the processes of the clients, so you have plenty of experience collaborating in all manners of ecosystems without issue. 

What all this means is that there’s an incentive for the Management and IT departments of the world to be selective and careful about the tools they adopt for remote collaborators, which need to be comprehensive and reliable, but without interfering with the work itself. 

Easily understandable CRMs that you can teach to someone over a Zoom call, ready access to databases and important files, effective training programs, clear and concise guidelines about Internet activity and cybersecurity, or applications that don’t impact productivity (or at least can be taken into account during a project) are a delicate balance to hit as more and more people choose to work off-site, but well thought off guarantees a successful adoption of remote work.

The Takeaways:

  • Today, new employees and collaborators will prioritize flexibility, and that trend is only going up, so it’s best to start adapting ways to offer it.
  • Flexibility results in better productivity, as it gives people the chance to work at their best productivity times.
  • Choosing the right collaboration tools that doesn’t hinder productivity is going to increase in priority to maintain productivity and minimizing the impact of any measure implemented in an organization.
  • As of now, a hybrid model is proving to work best, giving plenty of options to keep a cohesive team that also respects personal time.