“Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.”
There have been a lot of opinions about the return to the office post COVID. There are countless articles, opinions from informed research scientists, social media posts, and of course, conversations with friends, family, and colleagues. The prognostications roll out in many different directions, but it will be different for every company. Each company has a different culture, emphasizes different values, and has individuals do different kinds of work. I thought it would be a good idea to share with you my thinking as we consider Tahzoo’s culture, values, employees, and clients.
We started out with a remote working culture. I had long held the belief that we should hire the most talented people possible regardless of where they happened to reside. It took almost a year before we had our first real office. We used free Skype for team meetings and used cameras for video calls in 2010. There are some funny stories about those early Skype calls such as reminding people that boxer shorts are not appropriate attire for a company call or that we’d all prefer not to see you in your bed taking a video call… but we figured it out. We opened our first office in Richmond VA, in part because some people had children at home and needed to come to an office and because our work was changing.
We had migrated from strictly Tridion staff augmentation and small team projects to more traditional Tahzoo projects that included a full range of services – strategy, creative, project management, and technology. That required a lot more conversations, detailed communication, and collaboration between teams and individuals. Gone were the days when most of the company could just code away on a single task or series of tasks. Hence, we opened our first office so that we could have a place to work together and collaborate; eventually DC came next and then Seattle. We never had office hours. Rather, we expected people to be in the office when needed and focused on making sure they were pleasant enjoyable spaces.
Even with the three offices, we still had employees spread across the country. This worked for Tahzoo for many years. Be in the office to participate in the culture (lunches, happy hours, team events), have meetings with your manager, and collaborate on projects if you wanted to come in every day. We never had any firm rules about this because by and large, everyone just did the right thing. If someone wasn’t bought into the Tahzoo mission or wasn’t passionate about taking good care of customers and delivering high quality work, we all knew it and encouraged those people to exit the company.
Post COVID, my philosophy remains unchanged. Tahzoo offers a flexible work environment and, in return, expects each of you to be passionate about the quality of your collaboration, communication, and caring our clients. We love to see you in the office when that’s possible. For some of you that’s not, however, I want everyone in the company to participate in and help foster a great working culture.
To that end I have a few requests:
We are a “camera on” company when working with our clients. You can go camera off if the client is also cameras off, but only after you are first on camera. Now, if you have made an agreement with a longstanding client that is contrary to this rule, that is fine.
If you need to have an internal conversation that involves collaboration, providing feedback on a project, or addressing something that could otherwise be misinterpreted by someone who cannot see your face, then turn your camera on.
If you are in a conversation that is HR and performance related, then you should be camera on.
I need everyone in the company to use good judgement and to be camera on when possible. I get there are exceptions but that is where your good judgement comes into play.
Let’s go be great,