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Approaching the Future of Work: How Red Hat is Doing it?
Friday / October 07, 2022
Over the past few years, we’ve seen some radical shifts in the approach towards work. The outbreak of Covid-19 was a decisive event in this regard in that it compelled the world to completely rethink their approach to work; hence, the phrase New Normal was coined and became a buzzword at all kinds of business forums. The new normal presents unique challenges for companies thinking seriously about the future of work. For Red Hat, an Open-Source Technology Leader, the future of work is strongly driven by one concept: flexibility. We thought it important to share with you some valuable insights on how Red Hat has been going about it. There may be lessons for your organisation to take from Red Hat’s approach to the Future of Work.
The Future of Work is Flexibility
Writes Jennifer Dudeck, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Red Hat, “Flexibility has always been key to our culture. Red Hat came out of the open-source software movement, where a community of developers worked remotely and asynchronously. Prior to the pandemic, more than 30% of Red Hatters worked remotely.”
“We’ve expanded the flexibility by offering the majority of our associates the freedom to be "office-flex," where they can come to the office as much as they need to, or not at all if they choose. With COVID-19 still a concern for associates caring for immunocompromised loved ones, no Red Hatter is required to be in an office if they do not wish to return. While some of our tech peers are pulling employees back to the office, we don't think our workforce needs to be in an office to be successful—we've seen the value in providing flexibility.”
Red Hat’s approach not only expands associate flexibility, but extends trust, gives back time and provides freedom to adapt each day to work and family needs. The benefits of expanding flexibility also don’t just accrue to associates– their approach allows them to unlock a wider talent pool and create a lasting employer-value proposition. Not being limited by location when hiring provides a much broader opportunity to attract and retain great associates, especially when it comes to diverse talent. In that sense, it’s quite liberating.
Like the open-source development community, Red Hat is trying to zero in on how and where work gets done really–whether Red Hatters are collaborating together or asynchronously around the world. An unbounded approach to work calls for a greater emphasis on enabling digital collaboration and psychological safety because inclusion and trust bolster effective distributed teams.
Listen, drive action, build trust
In their open culture, Red Hat believes that the best ideas can come from practically anywhere. As a result of listening to their associates during the pandemic, Red Hat created a work from home stipend to help defray the cost of remote work and introduced quarterly "recharge" days to address burnout by creating days where all Red Hatters take time off together. As they ponder the future, they’ve been focused on scaling our listening to and engaging associates in decision-making to reinforce collaboration by all.
RedHat recently launched what they term the Open Decision Hub, which is a central place for Red Hatters to participate in active decisions, voice opinions, take part in surveys and trace the history of how and why decisions were made. Looking at the Open Decision Hub, associates can see which leaders are driving an issue, what is open for feedback (and what’s not) and where Red Hat leaders are in the decision process.
The Open Decision Hub has been priceless. Whereas their implementation of policies or strategies may not be up for debate, how Red Hat does so often is. Every now and then, associates help them find the bugs, iterate and ultimately become more efficient and effective. The Open Decision Hub allows Red Hat leaders to be incredibly transparent. Most importantly, by engaging associates in decisions that affect their work and experience and showing that their engagement has tangible results, they create an incredible amount of trust and commitment to their mission. At Red Hat, all associates really do have a voice.
The Office Vibes
The office is where Red Hatters used to work at, but as they thought about Red Hat future of work they realized it had to be more. With the majority of Red Hat associates having the flexibility to decide when they would like to use the office, Red Hat management saw it needed to be a place where associates can connect to Red Hat’s culture, collaborate and engage more fully. Simply put, if associates are not going to the office all of the time, it’s even more important that it’s fun, functional and enjoyable when they do.
Red Hat management has focused on evolving their office spaces to support how they are working. Associates coming to the office book their work stations online. Coming to an office, they’re greeted by "neighbourhoods" where teams gather to work. In Red Hat neighbourhoods, you’ll see far fewer desks and more booths, couches and small collaboration spaces. This is a concept that Red Hat has had for years even prior to the pandemic, but they’ve expanded this approach post-pandemic. Red Hat has also overhauled their technology and collaboration tools, providing associates with the ability to connect with colleagues and customers around the world from almost any room.
Red Hat has always supported both remote-first and hybrid work and they’ll continue to do so as part of their future of work. Iterating on our working norms, the support we provide associates and our open culture is critical to achieving our goals. They’re going to keep adapting the Red Hat way: offering flexibility, listening to Red Hatters and iterating toward better together.