Admit it. Ensconced in the comfort of home, sometimes you wistfully reminisce about office life. After all, staring at a row of blocks on Zoom isn’t the same as brainstorming with team-mates in person. Let Cliff Pollan, co-founder, Welo.Space, introduce you to a platform that offers the best of both worlds.
No one knows what the future holds, but as of now, ‘office’ seems to be an experience we would have to miss for a long, long time. More than a year into the pandemic, and it already feels like we’re inching towards a critical juncture where new normal work spaces are demanding more than just connecting on meeting, video conferencing or messaging apps. The question is: where are we headed when it comes to work-life?
Redefining New Normal Work-Life
Welo.Space was conceived with a view to replicate the real office in a virtual world, creating meaningful experiences that go beyond online meeting tools and video conferencing apps, shares co-founder Cliff Pollan. Talking to #TrundlTalks in the third episode of its second season, he shared insights into a sustainable new normal work culture and why it is imperative that organizations adapt to it.
Online Office: Future of workforce
Why do many of us still miss office? “Offices create a sense of community and connection that enable us to collaborate effectively and efficiently,” Pollan adds.
His venture, Welo.space is described as ‘online office for hybrid teams and agile practices’, which Pollan views as an exciting opportunity to give people ‘a new home’.
The venture was conceived with a view to create a virtual setting where people can come together, be together and work together.
Remote Work Culture: The New Normal
The pandemic has fuelled extensive use of apps, tools and widgets that help employees stay connected with their coworkers. According to Pollan, although such tools have laid the foundation for change by enabling people to continue working amidst disruption, the set-up has now become transactional in nature. “I loved what Satya Nadella of Microsoft said: we’re more productive, but maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote,” points Pollan, who emphasizes the need to replenish this reservoir of wellbeing. “We can work ‘remote hybrid’, and we’ve been doing that with each other, but we’ve reached a stage where we are suffering from a zoom-fatigue of sorts.”
Embracing the Hybrid Work Model
Cliff Polan feels that the hybrid work pattern makes us more productive. “The foundation for change is defined by the fact that we can work in a distributed fashion. I think in Agile-which after 20 years is largely contained in software development- can be used to empower organizations effectively,” he states. Under such circumstances, where you sit will not be critical, but building a wholesome work-life balance will. “We can help our climate, and even increase the accessibility of different things by embracing this, and that’s what lays the foundation,’ he adds.
- A global Work-from-Home Experience Survey reveals that people feel they perform equally well at home as they do in the office (70% are satisfied in both places) in both solo and group work, but they are more satisfied collaborating in person.
- Only 19% of office workers want to spend the majority of their time working from home and normally only 1.7 million people do.
- Office jokes (41%) and colleagues (40%) are two of the things workers miss the most. 30% said that they missed brainstorming and 17% missing the ability to learn from others. 32% said that that they just missed the routine of going to the office daily. 51% found the time they saved not commuting is the most valuable thing to come out of it.
Real Connections, Virtual World
The pandemic has supercharged interest and investment in virtual reality. Working with colleagues in a virtual workspace can create a strong sense of community and connection, and Welo is the place where you’d want to spend your work day.
We love our existing technologies, whether it’s zoom, Microsoft teams or Slack-and Pollan thinks we wouldn’t have been able to continue on a Google Meet without all of those capabilities.
We have a zoom meeting where we’re sitting by ourselves, engaged in a Slack conversation over texts, but again, such activities feel more transactional. “The responsibility of the tools is to try and figure out how we create an experience and actually build culture and create an environment where you don’t feel alone,” avers Pollan. The responsibility is to nurture the real feeling of being together and supporting it, going forward.
The Inception of Welo
Pollan first started working in a coworking facility in 1980, post which he had moved from New York city to Minnesota. However, he was still associated with the same company and ended up in a shared facility in the new city. “I was the only employee for the company in that area, and had the responsibility of managing a team of 50 coworkers-and another 50-spread across the USA. Suddenly, I was alone, but I had to figure this out,” recounts the co-founder of Welo.space.
Gradually, he realized how coworking experience generates community feeling within groups. “We belonged to completely different businesses, but that didn’t deter us from bonding and learning from each other,” adds Pollan.
Moving on, he collaborated with his co-founder on the idea, and it met with success. Although they couldn’t quite create the experience that they wanted to for lack of advanced technology, the idea was driven by a passion to make work better for everybody. A good agile learning ecosystem was instrumental in helping them accomplish Welo.
New Normal & Future of Work
Embracing a hybrid environment is inevitable, and Pollan thinks it is going to follow a novel approach. There are different forces driving most companies to go hybrid, he observes. For instance, all of a sudden the C-suite is realizing that people have been pretty productive, while CFOs are rooting for cost savings that come from doing away with office spaces. HR managers, on the other hand, are viewing this as an opportunity to help employees strike the ever-elusive work-life balance. Designed to capture the intangibles of the office environment, Welo encapsulates the spirit of a modern workforceset against the backdrop of robust digitalization.
Adapt to Stay Relevant
Pollan thinks organizations are going to embrace the Agile mindsets, as not self-adapting makes failure inevitable. “You have 20 years of Agile and hybrid work with a C-suite, but more importantly, with employees wanting this, that’s going to change the whole work environment,” signs of Cliff Pollan.
Know your expert:
Cliff Pollan (Co-Founder of Welo) is CEO, entrepreneur, and business executive whose success has come from building and leading outstanding teams. Most recently, he has also served as CEO for Sococo, a software company whose product replicated the benefits of a physical office in the Cloud. He is helping organizations with growth, process, and strategy.