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Written by Hanna Smith Head of People
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15 Oct 2021  |  Culture

Introducing Paddle@Work: A new approach to working

6 minute read

After 18 months of remote working, what does working at Paddle look like in a post-pandemic world?

Over the last 18 months, Paddle - like every other business - has had to work reactively. Responding to nationwide lockdown, self-isolation, and travel restrictions as and when they happen. 

In March 2020, we went fully remote. It was a challenge but our employees (Paddlers) responded well with resilience and a commitment to how we would continue to execute with impact . In fact, remote working proved so productive that as the world started to open up, we questioned what work-life should look like in a post-pandemic world. 

Should we ask people to come back into the office full time? Or could we continue to operate as a fully remote company? At the time, we didn’t know what it would look like but we did know that the pandemic presented us with an opportunity to do things differently and (as our values say) be better than yesterday .

As a People team, we had our own ideas about what we want to be as an employer and the experience we want to offer Paddlers but we also understand that what people expect and need from their workplace is different, and personal. So we listened to the team, took inspiration from our company values, and developed our new approach to work-life...

Introducing Paddle@Work…

What is Paddle@Work?

At Paddle, we recognize that where, when, and how our employees (Or Paddlers) do their best work is unique to them. Paddle@Work is our approach to making this possible and how we enable Paddlers to own their impact and work in a way that’s most effective for them. 

It encompasses our company values and provides every employee with flexibility over their working days. To make it work in practice for all Paddlers, the way we work is underpinned by three core philosophies: 

#1 We are Digital First

We have invested in digital tools and processes to ensure that Paddlers can collaborate seamlessly, wherever they are working. It gives us the freedom to work anywhere and an opportunity to solve for the customer with trust and autonomy. 

#2 We personalize our workdays

We give Paddlers the freedom to decide where, when, and how they work, learn and grow. That’s from wherever they wish or need to be that day, and with flexible hours. We believe that we can be exceptional together when we recognize our unique needs. 

#3 We are global and local

We are building a global team to serve a global customer base. We believe that prioritizing timezone proximity over physical proximity will help us execute with impact with our digital-first strategy there to support asynchronous working and collaboration.

How is this different?

Before lockdown, Paddle was already a place that valued and trusted its employees. We had flexible working and allowed the team to work from home. In practice though, most people were in the office, and working from home was usually requested for a specific reason such as family or childcare needs, waiting in for a delivery, or a healthcare appointment that was closer to home. 

Since then, there has been a shift in the expectations of our current employees and the candidates we speak to during the hiring process. They want and deserve to be trusted to get the job, wherever it suits them - as they did during the last year. 

We also recognize that in order to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, we need to do better and facilitate a truly flexible way of working.

“It’s about accessibility as well, we don’t want to lose current or potential Paddlers just because they can’t come into the office, for whatever reason.” Majama Tutani, Executive Assistant and Paddle@Work team member.

To do this effectively, we did research as a team and built out our initial ideas. We then surveyed our current Paddlers to dig a little deeper into what they expect and want from their employer and to see if our initial thoughts resonated with the team.

How does it work in practice?

We know that to embed this new way of working successfully, the whole team needs to commit to making it work. It will be a learning process, requiring discipline with our digital-first strategy to make sure every Paddler has the same experience, regardless of where they are working. 

As a company we are making four investments to facilitate this way of working in practice:

1. Hubs 

In our survey, 96% of Paddlers said they would work from an office at least every now and then - with 49% saying they’d use it a few times a week. We also asked what people would be looking for from that space - 80% said collaboration. 

So we decided that we’d look to create hubs where the team could get together. We don’t mandate days in the office but the space is open every day for Paddlers to connect, collaborate and socialize. 

Starting in London, we’ll also use our hubs to connect with the wider SaaS community, by offering workspace and hosting events and meetups for peers and partners.

2. At home

Paddlers who choose to work from home all or some of the time should be empowered with the tools and setup they need to do their best work. As such, every new Paddler will receive a generous working from home stipend towards their at-home workstation. 

Our digital-first approach also makes sure that Paddlers who choose to work remotely feel as much a part of the team as those to spend 5 days in the office - with tools like Miro, Trello, and Zoom to foster collaborative working. 

3. Summits

We will host an annual Paddle Summit, an event to bring everyone together from across the globe. Summits will be a chance to spend time together, celebrate successes, share learnings and collaborate on important projects. 

Throughout the year, we will also host other team and department socials which will be held both in-person and virtually.

4. Navigate

We’ve shared our commitment to letting Paddlers work from anywhere. To facilitate this, we’ve launched Navigate, a benefit that allows Paddlers to work from another country to the one their employed from for up to 45 days in a calendar year.

It’s something 67% of Paddlers said they were likely to use as travel restrictions ease around the world – some Paddlers have already used this benefit since we launched in August.

As well as working in the day and holidaying at night, Navigate also allows our international Paddlers living away from their home country the chance to visit their families for an extended period of time. 

“I’m half Danish and have close relatives in Denmark, including my mum and brother. The opportunity to go and work from there means that I can see my family more, which is not something I could do in the same way at other jobs.” Dani Mansfield, Senior Content Strategist

What’s next?

We launched Paddle@Work in August, and so far feedback from Paddlers has been incredibly positive, with 93% saying they were either “excited” or “really excited” about the Paddle@Work direction. But the work doesn’t stop there. 

We know that this way of working will take discipline and a period of adjustment. It’s important for us to make sure that people have the chance to speak up and feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. 

And that means more than a quarterly survey. The next step is to create a working group or steering committee. We want to hear different voices and opinions from across Paddle to see where we can improve and what might need to change or adapt as we continue to grow.

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