hyperexponential has always been a very flexible place to work. We chose this path long before COVID because we believe it allows dedicated, high-performance people to do their best work while making efficient use of time to find fit and harmony with their personal lives. It also allows us to accommodate each other's (and our clients') needs as our lives, and hyperexponential changes. Frankly, it also just makes sense!
However, we've always placed a strong emphasis on honesty and openness in the implementation of "hx flexibility". This usually means:
- Having a good reason for using it
- Making a plan to make up any lost time and sticking to it
- Telling the team (or your manager if it's confidential)
- Communicating more rather than less if something is ambiguous. Assume positive intent, but minimise the need to assume!
This isn't just about setting a good example - it also lets your teammates plan better, take advantage of times where it's advantageous for multiple people to work in a non-standard way, and most importantly, helps us support each other because we understand each other's circumstances.
It also helps mitigate misinterpretation or misuse, unintentional or otherwise, of hx flexibility. In an increasingly remote world, it's easy for bad habits to form without realising; the focus and energy borne out of the "positive pressure" of a well-structured office environment is something that's hard to replicate remotely. This won't be a problem for many, but it's human nature to let things slip - the key is to realise it and fix it.
We expect you to be thoughtful, disciplined and fair here - use the hx flexibility wherever it makes sense, but never abuse it!
The location mode - co-located vs. fully remote vs. hybrid
Traditionally, people have co-located to work. This means they've been physically in the same place, irrespective of the collaboration/communication requirements implicit in the work at hand.
In fully remote work, the whole group of people doing the work are decentralised - there is no physical location. Collaboration is handled/enabled using technology.
A hybrid model is used when some participants are co-located and others are remote (both at a company level, but also on specific tasks). In this case, some people may be in the same physical location(s), although this may or may not be relevant, depending on the nature of the work and communication mechanism.
The nature of hyperexponential’s work, culture, and ‘hxers’ in general, means we value face-to-face contact, for both work and social reasons. As a result, we expect a healthy mix of co-located and remote work to dominate hyperexponential’s way of working for the foreseeable future.
While we believe this is the best solution in the face of mixed preferences, there will be challenges from time to time. In particular, we are very aware of the difficulty in balancing the different job satisfaction and mental health requirements of people who have more extreme preferences for co-located or remote work - this is a hard problem and we plan to invest in addressing it!
The mode is driven by the requirements of the work, and what works best for the team
Our goal is to do the work in the best way possible - now the world is more flexible, we have more variables we can optimise to achieve this. As a result, we should think about what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and the resources (including physical locations and technology) we have at our disposal.
This has many implications, for example, but not limited to the following scenarios:
- There is no need to come into the office to sit on VCs all day, unless that's best for you, and the office has space
- If you are working on async work, especially deep focus work, choose the location that helps you do this best. For some people, this may be at home; however it's not always the case. For example, several hxers work much better in quiet, "focus cave" environments within an office, where positive peer pressure helps mitigate distraction. Remember - be thoughtful, honest and do the right thing, not the default/path of least resistance!
- Use co-located work where it's optimal and practical, for example:
- Doing a detailed brainstorming/whiteboarding session over several hours with colleagues who are located within reasonable distance of each other
- Giving or receiving information that's better handled face-to-face by the parties in question (e.g. because it's very complex, nuanced, or sensitive)
N.B. This doesn't necessarily entail working in a hyperexponential Hub - it may make sense to meet in a local coffee shop (respecting privacy and confidentiality considerations of course), or going for a walk with a teammate.
There will be events where everyone's needs can't be met. In such cases, it's likely we'll need to compromise, and consider rotating location modes - in a hybrid world, a positive attitude to compromise will be critical to a happy team.
Remote participants (hxers or otherwise) are first-class citizens
Running a hybrid model doesn't mean that we run mixed modality meetings. There's lots of evidence to show that in such circumstances, when a critical mass of people are co-located and engage "IRL", remote participants miss out. Everyone gets takes equal priority at hyperexponential, irrespective of where they are - to ensure this we need to be "remote-first" in many aspects of our business.
We run almost all our hybrid meetings in "remote mode" - even a single remote colleague means everyone treats the call as a VC and engages as if they were remote, even if they are sitting next to each other.
Note that there may be exceptions to this rule - for example, "broadcast meetings" where a small group of people are presenting and the rest of the group is the audience, with negligible bi-directional communication (like Show and Tell) may be run in mixed mode. However, this is only the case if we can ensure that remote participants can receive an experience as good, or better, than if the meeting were run in remote mode.
Making all of this work will require improvements to our processes and tooling - we are actively working on this, and plan to invest significantly in the state of the art for all ‘hxers’.
Changing how we work doesn't change our goals or what we care about
This should be obvious, but it's worth stating explicitly. Some people and companies are interpreting a shift away from 100% co-located work as a shift towards, 100% remote, async work with a focus only on observing work output, and less emphasis on relationships, personal engagement and sync collaboration. We know there will be many companies that default to a perspective that approximates to "anything goes as long as you get the work done". This is not hyperexponential’s view. (We also don't believe that many companies will stick to such a system in the long-term!).
We've adopted a hybrid model because we believe it's the best way of achieving our ambitions following the data and feedback we've collected during the pandemic. It does not mark a change to our ambition, or what matters at hyperexponential!
We are here to be the best versions of ourselves, and to make hyperexponential the best it can be. The means that we continue to set the bar as high as we can possibly achieve by working at our best; this is par for the course at any high-growth business, and we want hyperexponential to outperform even among this cohort.
We still focus on the same things we always have - smarts, commitment, hard work and great communication. In particular, we will not be just focusing on what you deliver; how much you care, and how hard you try, and how often you give the "hx extra" will continue to matter materially. If we do this, the score takes care of itself.
Balance flexibility with predictability and great communication
All three of these concepts are tightly coupled. Randomness is a huge productivity crusher, at an individual level, but especially at a team level - it adds logistical and cognitive overhead to communications, which is material when summed across the team. We want to minimise this.
So, everyone at hyperexponential should have a plan and communicate it - this usually takes the form of a standard schedule for where you expect you’ll work, aligned with your team’s planning cycle (usually weekly or fortnightly). While we are always very flexible within any given cycle, having a plan makes a huge difference to our ability, and the effort required, to coordinate with each other to get things done.
We know that different roles will have an inherently different balance, and flexibility requirements (for example, salespeople will be heavily customer-led, and therefore likely to have a more variable schedule than, for example, a principal engineer working on a deep individual project).
Implications and Expectations
What does this mean in reality? We hope that the resulting working patterns and practices that we follow will feel familiar to existing ‘hxers’, and be easy to adopt for new joiners. The principles above should suffice to guide most decisions, but there are some topics which benefit from specific elaboration.
The role of an office is different in a remote-hybrid world to one that's predominantly co-located. Following detailed research, and surveying of the team, we’ve seen while some ‘hxers’ want to remain office-based for most of their week, the majority expect to use the office for collaboration, planning and socialisation.
For this reason, going forward we will refer to the physical offices that hyperexponential uses as Hubs - they will be places that connect ‘hxers’ around the world to each other, for any reason that drives growth, success and happiness in their work. (This doesn’t mean you can’t use the word office - but we will be calling our approach “Hub-based” to capture the essence above.)
It’s worth emphasising that our office still needs to accommodate all types, and modes of work: there will be focus and quiet spaces in our hubs too.
Our Ops Team have been hard at work specifying and designing our first Hub - hyperexponentialHQ in London - with all of this in mind. You can find the operational implications of our Hub strategy within our Ops Handbook.
Fully remote ‘hxers’ are expected to attend a hub regularly - at least once a quarter, depending on role and work requirements. The “do the right thing” principle applies very clearly here - on occasion, when it makes sense and is practical for remote ‘hxers’ to be in the office outside these minimum requirements, we expect them to make the effort, just as we expect co-located ‘hxers’ to accommodate their remote teammates as first-class citizens in day-to-day life.
Workdays and common hours
As an enterprise technology firm with strong ties to the London financial system, the whole of hx currently overlaps with a 9-5 UK time as "common hours". We are not an "anywhen" business, and this is unlikely within our current plans; however, as we become increasingly multinational, time-zone flexibility regardless of location is certainly something we plan to investigate.
Irrespective of when they are, a set of common hours means there is a "start" and "end" to the day for the purposes of planning and coordination.
You need to be ready and available within common hours. If you can't for whatever reason, this is a form of out-of-office: please inform your team accordingly.
hyperexponential is an enterprise technology firm, and customer service is a critical part of our value proposition and strategy. It's also a key differentiator.
It's important to note that our clients still lean on co-location as their primary location mode, and will regularly expect ‘hxers’ to engage with them this way. They may also conflict with the principles that hyperexponential has set. There's little we can do about this.
When this happens, customer-centricity prevails - we should respect, and expect to match our clients' requirements.