GSoft believes that there is a better way to work. That company ethos inspired their decision to hire their first workplace experience expert, Lucy Shih, in 2019.
Lucy’s goal was to create an inclusive office workplace in GSoft’s new 80,000 square foot headquarters. But when COVID-19 hit, the company was forced to close the office.
Coming out of the pandemic, the company surveyed the employee base and found that approximately 50% of employees wanted a hybrid option, while the rest wanted to stay fully onsite or remote. GSoft decided to transition to a hybrid work strategy, but it required a re-examination of spaces, tools, and policies, including:
- How their real-estate investment could be reimagined as a hybrid workplace
- What new tools were needed to support a hybrid workforce.
- What changes in policies were needed to define the new hybrid GSoft culture.
Let’s see how Lucy and her team tackled this challenge.
The Challenge: Repurposing a brand new office space
The new GSoft headquarters opened in January 2020 with a range of on-site perks and collaborative meeting spaces. Unfortunately, the new office honeymoon period was cut short.
Six months later GSoft decided to transform into a digital-first company and a cross-functional team assembled to find a new solution for their workplace. The team consisted of:
- Lucy’s Workplace team - responsible for re-exploring what the physical office space represents when employees can work from anywhere.
- Culture and Organization team - focused on creating new principles of communication and collaboration in a digital-first company.
- Legal team - concerned with any contractual and security considerations within a distributed workforce.
- Procurement team - in charge of reviewing contracts and agreements with new vendors.
- IT team - responsible for setting up a seamless IT infrastructure ready to support remote and on-site work.
“We knew that moving forward, the office would not be the same as before, in terms of the layout, square footage and the tools we would use to welcome people back,” says Lucy.
As a company that is highly focused on employee experience, the greatest challenge was ensuring a safe, enjoyable and smooth return to the office.
The Solution: Enabling hybrid with Robin
The GSoft Workplace team evaluated four software providers with the goal of creating a plug and play setting. The team needed software that allowed employees to easily use the office and conveniently reserve a time and desk, without needing an assigned seat.
GSoft develops user-friendly products and expects the same type of experience from the tools used by their employees. When looking for a desk booking solution, the software had to provide:
- Easy integrations (Single sign-on, Slack integration)
- Mobile accessibility
- Safety features, such as health form questionnaires
- Analytics to understand space utilization
“Robin had the foundations of what we wanted and was super simple to implement,” says Lucy.
After selecting Robin, the team created a launch plan with the IT team to integrate Robin into Office365. Empowering employees to plan their in-office days with Robin required a behavior shift. Lucy and her team enabled the shift by:
- Adding Robin instructions to the employee handbook
- Creating a series of internal communications about the new hybrid policy
- Training the front desk staff to help walk-in visitors book desks
Results: Redefining the workplace to engage employees
It took Lucy and her team just four months to implement their new hybrid work plan, and shortly after they collected feedback with their own software, Officevibe.
“Most of the feedback collected was positive and we discovered that our users were mostly using Robin on their mobile,” says Lucy. “The ease of having it on their phone to make bookings and fill out the health form was a definite plus.”
The pivot to hybrid allowed Lucy’s team to make major adjustments to their office, giving them the ability to:
- Reduce square footage by half
- Support initial booking capacity of 200 desks per week
- Assist in creating a vibrant office environment
GSoft built a space that is meant for collaboration, with a total of 18 meeting rooms, and a varied number of alternative collaboration spaces, like their ping pong table or outdoor garden. Employees now have plenty of space to engage with one another.
Along with their workplace, GSoft reimagined their culture. They introduced a new set of principles to help adopt a sustainable, hybrid work environment. These new policies include:
- The right to disconnect and work asynchronously: No messages are deemed urgent unless specifically mentioned.
- A work from anywhere policy: including up to 150 days working from abroad.
- Prioritizing physical and mental health: including a new telemedicine provider and a monthly lunch stipend.
“The whole approach that we have for the workplace is about how we can remove the friction,” explains Lucy. “It’s really to analyze what works best for people and to help them find the type of environment that empowers them to do their best.”
GSoft believes there’s a better way to work and their choice to adopt distributed work proves that. With tools like Robin, GSoft will continue to support their hybrid teams and enable flexibility in their office.
"Having a positive impact at all levels of the organization, we want to provide greater flexibility, autonomy and efficiency with how we approach the future of work," concludes Lucy.