CLOUDEON – part of Devoteam just moved into its new office in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and employees are getting settled in the new space as well as in a post COVID-19 work life. The new office is part of the Bokšto Skveras building complex: a renovation project where an old monastery with a rich history has been turned into a corporate office space while still protecting the original structure and feel of the building. Darius Pivoriunas, Platform Engineering Manager at CLOUDEON, is excited to finalize the move to the new building and ads:
“It took a long time to do the restoration of the monastery while protecting the cultural heritage and archaeological treasures that it held. Now, if I remember correctly, it has already been named the best reconstruction work in the recent history of Vilnius. The building of course has lots of potential for office work and corporate and cultural events as well, but it also holds a luxury spa, a very nice haute cuisine restaurant, and a small renaissance style garden. And all of it’s even better in person!”
"When COVID struck, we all learned to work from home"
Darius does not hesitate a second when asked about the reasoning behind the move to Bokšto Skveras: “It wasn’t because our old office was in a bad shape. Not at all – but when COVID struck, we all learned to work from home and suddenly the facilities were way too big. At some point during the lockdowns, the physical address was just a place to receive and pick up mail – and that of course raises questions of costs and alternative options.”. When Lithuania opened again after the second lockdown, the management of CLOUDEON Lithuania discussed and reevaluated their office situation and decided to grab the opportunity to try something new and move with the times.
“We are also social creatures who need warmth and eye contact outside of the screen”
Now, when employees of CLOUDEON Lithuania work, they are no longer obligated to go to the CLOUDEON offices in Vilnius or Kaunas – rather, they can choose to meet up with their teams physically a couple of times a week when it makes sense for the task at hand or when they feel like catching up with their colleagues. Darius explains how the new working conditions have made it clear that some people thrive with a flexible work week separated between a home office and an actual office space while others, like himself, are better suited to a traditional office 9-5 workday:
“My wife enjoys the new style of working – she can be really productive at home – and COVID has shown us that it is fully possible to excel at work from other bases than the office. I personally felt challenged by the work-at-home situation and prefer to work from the office the traditional way, but I eventually got used to it. I think humans are incredibly adaptable creatures. However, we are also social creatures who need warmth and eye contact outside of the screen. I am currently establishing a common understanding in my team that we can have a lot of freedom in our work habits – but we need to meet physically on a regular basis as well”.
The office should reflect the work life of the employees
While Darius can easily see the benefits of a flexible work week, he emphasizes that a home office is not without its challenges: there has been a lot of home schooling, he shares the office space with his wife, and it can be hard to focus for extended periods of time. For him, that just makes it even more important that this new working culture is reflected and incorporated into CLOUDEON’s new Vilnius office and the office culture in general. There should be great meeting spaces for when teams meet up to touch base, spaces for leisure and breaks, optimal network connectivity, and flexible workspaces. In short, the new office should be the ideal place to come to work – whether you are there twice a week or five days straight.
CLOUDEON is not the only company facing the challenges that a shift in work mentality post COVID-19 has brought along. On the 19th of October 2021, Danish newspaper Berlingske brought an article that states that “9 to 5 Monday to Friday is dead” and that studies point to employees being ready to look for new jobs if their management is not ready to offer a flexible work week. Data from a survey by the analyst company Gartner also shows that 39% of employees are likely to leave their positions if asked to do a ‘hard return’ to on-site office work. Only 4% of the 4000 participants in the survey preferred full time on-site work.
The future of work
So, how to both embrace the employees’ wishes and demands for a new, hybrid future of work and at the same time make sure that teams keep in touch with the organization and their interpersonal relationships? For Darius, part of the answer is embracing the new reality and working around it:
“So, at the beginning of a lockdown more than a year ago, we established daily morning catch up meeting. Essentially it consisted of everyone getting into the same virtual place and just checking in with one another. Now it has expanded a bit – we talk more about work related announcements or news – but we still have that meeting. It is a framework that lets us feel our relation to the other teams and rest of the company: We can joke around as well and share things going on in the world and our lives”.
He also explains that CLOUDEON Lithuania have introduced ‘workcations’ where the employees go to a separate location – could be a hotel by the seashore or in a different city – and work individually or together in teams. After work they have time to bond and get to know their colleagues.
In the Gartner analysis mentioned above it is emphasized that the worst reaction company leadership can have to this new hybrid work reality is no reaction. Clear communication with employees, a plan to accommodate wishes for a hybrid work experience, and continuously having a shared sense of community and purpose are all key to approaching the future of work. A future that Darius, his colleagues at CLOUDEON Lithuania, and many others are already living.