How These Hybrid Teams Keep Work-Life Flexible

To find the right balance between work and home life, Built In asked four businesses about what makes their hybrid office programs succeed.

Written by Conlan Carter
Published on May. 21, 2024
How These Hybrid Teams Keep Work-Life Flexible
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Can a flexible in-office program be, in colloquial terms, a flex?

Hybrid and flexible office programs are attractive to the vast majority of professionals today — with 87 percent of employees stating that they would work at least one day remotely a week if given the opportunity, according to McKinsey & Company.

Flexible work programs have a far greater impact on the lives of women and people of color than other groups, and businesses that adopt flexible office programs see an uptick in employee diversity, according to research from Harvard Business Review. 

For someone like Chris Rama, a senior engineer II at SpotHero, a hybrid work model allows him face time to connect with local team members and flexibility to spend more quality time at home as a parent. Joanna Burgraf, a studio senior manager with Enova International, enjoys the energizing and social benefits of office life that complement her quiet, focused days at home in casual wear.

Built In Chicago spoke with Rama, Burgraf and team members from FourKites and ABN AMRO Clearing USA LLC to learn more about their hybrid office models and how flexibility works for them.

 

Joanna Burgraf
Studios Senior Manager • Enova

Enova International is a financial services technology company that serves non-prime customers, businesses and traditional banks through its machine-learning-powered platform.

 

Tell us what a hybrid work model means at Enova.

I joined Enova in 2007, and at that time, the norm was “flexible yet late office hours.” Fast forward to today as Enova celebrates its 20th anniversary, and we have a robust hybrid model that underscores our commitment to adapting and thriving.

In the company's early years, it was common to come in late and work later into the evenings — a practice fueled by our younger workforce and startup energy. The "work hard, play hard" motto wasn't just a phrase; it was embedded in our actions. Celebratory outings after website launches and late nights were common. However, as we matured, so did our working hours. We settled into a more traditional nine-to-five routine with flexibility that allowed us to manage personal obligations effectively.

The unprecedented arrival of Covid-19 redefined our work culture, thrusting us into two years of remote work. Once the thick of the pandemic subsided, Enova's leadership team meticulously managed the transition back to the office by introducing a hybrid model that balanced in-office presence with the flexibility of working from home. This model, designed with considerable input from across the organization, underscores our adaptability and enduring culture of trust.

 

Why does this schedule work well for employees? What is your favorite aspect of the hybrid work model?

Today, we operate on a hybrid schedule, working in the office Tuesday through Thursday, with the autonomy to work remotely on Mondays and Fridays. This hybrid approach has proven incredibly popular, blending the structured productivity of in-office collaboration with the personal freedom and convenience of working from home. It has allowed us to save on commute times, enjoy quieter work environments and cater to personal and family needs with greater ease.

One of my favorite outcomes of this hybrid schedule is the unexpected realization of how much I value the energy of being in the office. Whether it's a quick walk with a coworker or a change of scenery within the workspace, I find these moments rejuvenating. On the days I am not in the office, I have the flexibility to manage home repairs, work quietly in my home office without distraction or simply relish the comfort of working in casual attire.

 

What are the key ingredients that make Enova's hybrid model work?

The success of our hybrid model is not by chance but the result of our iterative, data-driven approach toward workplace optimization and everything else we do. When we notice certain roles not thriving in a fully remote setup, we adjust our strategies, reflecting our culture's adaptability and responsiveness to change. Guided by our company values, the trust and freedom afforded by our leadership team empowers us to make informed decisions that best serve our team's and organization's interests. 

Celebrating our milestones and festivals, like our monthly birthday celebration and annual cultural festivities, reinforces our collective spirit and cohesiveness, making our achievements even more gratifying.

Our resilience and willingness to evolve have significantly contributed to our growth as a company. By fostering a culture rooted in trust and flexibility, we’ve created an environment where team members can find an ideal work-life balance. The hybrid model has given us the best of both worlds, enabling us to thrive.


 

“With a culture rooted in trust and flexibility, we’ve created an environment where team members can find an ideal work-life balance.”

 

The next time someone asks me why Enova’s hybrid work schedules work, I’ll say it's because they offer flexibility, productivity, and, most importantly, a sense of belonging and togetherness, no matter where we are. This adaptability will continue to drive Enova's success as we look forward to the future.

 

 

Jordan Hopwood
Chapter Lead - Java • ABN AMRO Clearing USA LLC

ABN AMRO Clearing USA LLC (AAC-USA) is a clearing firm that provides a suite of financial services, including execution, clearing, stock borrowing and lending, settlement and custody.


 

Tell us what a hybrid work model means at ABN AMRO Clearing USA LLC.

The essence of hybrid working allows employees to choose where they work based on how they can be most effective and add value. Their role in the company determines what days they work from home and how they collaborate with their teams and stakeholders.

ABN AMRO Clearing USA LLC’s (AAC-USA) policy is to generally be in the office at least three days per week. We consider the unique situations of our teams and individual team members.

 

Why does this schedule work well for employees? What is your favorite aspect of the hybrid work model?

We recently globalized the IT organization and with that comes the challenge of working with teammates across various time zones. The hybrid work model provides employees the flexibility to schedule their work-from-home days to best support the business, particularly for days with early a.m. or late p.m. meetings. 

Personally, I have a three-year-old, and the hybrid working model allows me to balance business needs with family life in a way that working fully onsite would not.

 

What are the key ingredients that make your ABN AMRO Clearing USA LLC's hybrid model work?

The hybrid model showcases AAC-USA’s cultural tenets of care and collaboration. As a dynamic and integrated organization, it is important that we see each other regularly, and the office acts as the primary place to meet, inspire and connect with each other.


 

“The office acts as the primary place to meet, inspire and connect with each other.”

 

As a people manager, the hybrid model is supported by creating clear expectations and building trust with employees with goes a long way and benefits company culture long term.

 

 

Chris Rama
Senior Engineer II Salutation • SpotHero

SpotHero is a digital parking service company that provides an off-street parking marketplace.

 

Tell us what a hybrid work model means at SpotHero

SpotHero primarily hires in two metropolitan areas: Chicago and Toronto. This supports our commitment to enabling periodic or regular in-person collaboration. Employees are encouraged to come into the office one day per week while managers are encouraged to come in two days per week. There is flexibility around these guidelines; some individuals may choose to come in more frequently while others may find it challenging some weeks due to responsibilities in life. Both scenarios are perfectly acceptable. Each manager and team is empowered to communicate and collaborate to determine the best arrangement for them.

 

Why does this schedule work well for employees? What is your favorite aspect of the hybrid work model?

Because some teams happen to be located in the same city, there are days when an entire squad is in person on the same day. This still feels like a cosmic occurrence post-pandemic, and I love it when this happens.

However, just over a year ago, our team was spread among Chicago, Toronto and New York City. This remains the case for many teams across SpotHero. In that regard, coming into the office can also be an opportunity to immerse oneself in the business — almost as a physical manifestation of our professional commitment. For me, it’s lovely to see the smiling faces of colleagues outside of my functional area whom I may otherwise only encounter infrequently, and even then, only virtually.

Though not officially one of our core values, at SpotHero, we are committed to "creating space for life.” As a parent, this hybrid model enables me to be present for our kiddo — not just for school drop-off and pickup, but more importantly, as an engaged, tuned-in parent. Most days, I'm not adding an hour of train commute time to my workday. Instead, I can spend that time with our family. That means more bike rides, running clubs, dance parties and science projects!

 

“This hybrid model enables me to be present for our kiddo — not just for school drop-off and pickup, but as an engaged, tuned-in parent.”

 

What are the key ingredients that make SpotHero's hybrid model work?

A key ingredient of our hybrid model is trust. Instead of simply giving it out, we hire based on prerequisites such as curiosity, resourcefulness and humility. Those who are curious remain open to a variety of interpretations, which is crucial when considering the sometimes inaccurate narratives people create in the absence of key information, especially when working remotely.

We value resourcefulness because we can achieve our highest effectiveness and satisfaction through effective navigation of information and practices. However, there are times when we fail to figure things out ourselves, and it is during these moments that we rely on humility. One of our core values is "Don’t Get Stuck in Traffic." This value becomes evident when a call for help results in an abundance of responses rather than a scarcity.

While building a best-in-class parking platform, we aim for everyone to "Enjoy the Ride," which is another core value. For many, a key aspect of this enjoyment is "Fueling Relationships," yet another core value. SpotHero hosts an “All-Team Week” each summer and an end-of-year party in the winter, filled with opportunities to celebrate, collaborate and appreciate each other.
 

 

Jenny Schoenberger
Sr. People Business Partner Salutation • FourKites

FourKites is an end-to-end supply chain visibility platform that over 1,200 customers trust to digitize their supply chains for greater agility, efficiency and sustainability.


 

Tell us what a hybrid work model means at FourKites.

At FourKites, a hybrid work model means that employees in our main cities — Chicago, Chennai and Amsterdam — have an opportunity to meet in person, and the rest of our remote employees can come together in a dedicated workspace when they travel to these cities. There are no required, companywide in-office days, but teams often like to pick a day of the week to come to the office. This makes it easier to plan team meetings and do collaborative work. 

Employees who come into the Chicago office on Wednesdays are incentivized with a GrubHub lunch credit, which helps foster opportunities for serendipitous connections and collaboration. Individual teams or project groups will determine if there are additional days in a week they want to come into the office. The key has been to prioritize flexibility, especially with many roles allowing people to live outside a hub city.
 

Why does this schedule work well for employees? What is your favorite aspect of the hybrid work model?

It works well because nothing is forced — FourKites embraces a truly flexible environment that lets employees choose the model that is best for their productivity, schedule and happiness. 
 

“FourKites embraces a truly flexible environment that lets employees choose the model that is best for their productivity, schedule and happiness.”

 

While we have a large, globally dispersed team, we still have beautiful offices where we can come together as needed. For me as a people business partner, in-person, cross-functional collaboration is key to being an impactful partner to the business units I support. A great way for me to get a pulse on what’s working and what can be improved for employees is to catch employees and leaders at lunch, in the hall or set up a quick 30-minute coffee chat in one of our flexible conference spaces to lend an ear and brainstorm ideas.

I love that I can get feedback in multiple settings, both in-person and remotely, which allows me to get the most varied and rich insights and ultimately sets me up for success in my role. Sometimes, there’s no better way to create a roadmap or work through a problem than to huddle together in a meeting room and brainstorm with a whiteboard and sticky notes. Our offices give employees that option. 


 

A photo of the FourKites team having a meeting in a conference room surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over a city.
FourKites

 

What are the key ingredients that make FourKites' hybrid model work?

As the pioneer of the real-time supply chain visibility market, innovation is in our DNA. I think that same mindset has helped us adjust well to a hybrid, globally dispersed model. While there were some growing pains when remote work was forced on us during the onset of Covid-19, like meeting overload in a remote setting, we were able to find our stride after gathering feedback and adjusting.

Our core value of “One Team” really speaks to why working collaboratively is so important to us when getting things done and moving the needle. It can mean meeting in person for a product team road-mapping session or using Google Meet to accommodate global time zones to get everyone’s perspective on a specific topic. Ultimately, it’s about leaning into flexibility to best work together as a unified global team.

We also value “Extreme Ownership,” another important factor in our success as a hybrid organization. Every employee is empowered to utilize the tools available to them to accomplish their projects whether it’s through Google Slides, Slack huddles or in-person meetings. We equip employees to do their best work and let them determine exactly what that looks like.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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