The Motley Fool’s head of IT shares insights for succeeding in a hybrid world
With so many different channels for communication, different business needs, and physical distance as a barrier, how can you best support a hybrid workforce?
During our Hear from a Peer webinar, we sat down with Lawrence Morrisson, head of IT at The Motley Fool, an organization dedicated to helping the world become smarter, happier, and richer through sound investment advice. He shared how their teams have managed to develop a robust and thriving hybrid work culture. Here are some key insights from our conversation.
How have your collaboration and communication needs evolved over the last decade?
In the beginning, it was like the Wild West. We were mostly an in-office culture back then, with open floor plan — no offices, not even for the CEO — with many conference rooms for meetings.
People would use whatever technology was most familiar to them, or whatever the team on the other side of the call was used to. Because of that we had all different connection options, and so we were trying to do screen sharing across those four or five different technologies with dongles that you would plug in, and it was a real headache. With the global presence that we have, it was clear that wasn’t going to scale.
We had to go with something simple and consistent. That’s when we found Zoom in the marketplace. So we tried it and we loved it.
How are your employees embracing this remote culture today?
We’ve committed to our employees that they can choose to go fully remote and are not required back in the office. And most employees have embraced that. It surprised us that we didn’t really skip a beat, productivity-wise. But it was a challenge to make sure we retained the special sauce of our culture that makes The Motley Fool such a rewarding place to work.
Our People Experience Team is focused on ensuring that Fools are building connections outside of their day-to-day work. Part of that is having social outlets and opportunities to learn, both professionally and personally. We’ve offered dozens of classes like gardening, beatboxing, bartending, active listening, and sushi making. We’ve also done events like virtual trick or treating on Halloween, pub trivia, escape rooms, meditation, and more.
As a result, more than 70% of our employees have participated in at least one “extracurricular” event in the last year. We find that when you’ve built a connection with another, even if it’s while doing a water tasting class (yes, seriously), you’re more likely to trust one another and collaborate successfully.
How are you using Zoom to support diversity, equity, and inclusion?
One of our guiding principles is test, learn, and iterate. Our People Experience Team has been tirelessly creative in providing a variety of remote experiences, enabled because of Zoom. We know not every Fool has the same interests, so it’s key to always try new things.
We know diverse teams make for stronger teams and better decision-making. We have ERGs (employee resource groups) set up to provide opportunities for like-minded Fools to share cultural moments and develop professional skills together all made available to everyone through Zoom.
What best practices or tips would you like to share with your peers?
Staying flexible is key — what we think we know today is almost certainly going to be different tomorrow. It’s going to change. Don’t get locked into a particular strategy. For example, we put all the various technical pieces in place that we needed to support a return to the office after COVID, and then we found that we were not getting the attendance that we thought we would. [So we gave] employees choice, flexibility, and trust.
There’s a very common misconception that people are going to be less productive if they’re not in the office, and I think that’s quite the opposite. So trust your people to get the job done.
If a colleague or industry peer with similar needs is evaluating Zoom, what would you tell them?
I really enjoy using Zoom — it’s very intuitive. It’s very flexible. If you’re going to go with Zoom, I would certainly recommend doing it across the board as we did.
I would also recommend doing a lot of communications leading up to your switch. We had a bunch of material prepared, as well as FAQs and best practices that we used to help our employees. We had a little graphic in the background of our conference room screens that asked participants if they wanted to share their screen. We also provided a link at the bottom that directed users to our in-house repository of documentation that we built out specifically to help everyone get onboarded with the product.
To learn more about how The Motley Fool is using Zoom to empower its hybrid workforce and reinforce its culture, check out the customer story.