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Working Remotely and Flexibly with ShieldGEO

At ShieldGEO, we want to assess you on output, not on the hours that you work.

 

Remote and Flexible Work

Here at ShieldGEO, we want to create a state of symbiosis between your work, and your life. So what do we expect, and how do we achieve this?

Where? – Safe and Healthy Working Environments

Where you work is not our concern. We want you to feel comfortable where you work. Our only concern is that you work in a safe environment, and that you work in an area which is conducive to productivity. We have our own newsletter and list of guidelines on how to create a safe working space for yourself. Feel free to also reach out to other colleagues to discuss ideas about how they make a safe workspace for themselves.

How?

All you need is an internet connection and a can-do attitude. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for help when you need a little support. We expect open and honest communication between all of us, and encourage forecasting issues that may arise so that we can work together as a team to solve it  earlier rather than later.

It is expected that we will all have our good and bad days. Sometimes, we may be more productive than other times, but it’s not always the case that our tried-and-true methods will hold. Changes in life are inevitable, whether they be large or small, but having flexible work hours at ShieldGEO allows for those changes. When things do change, it also does not mean that our new schedules will be incorporated without a hitch, and it takes time to figure these things out. These changes are normal and so we encourage you to talk to someone. You could even give a shoutout on our less formal communication channels, as it is very likely that someone has experienced this and may have some insight.

When you start at ShieldGEO, we will also ask you your preferred way of communication in order of preference. We have a variety of tools for communicating for different tasks. We categorise these tools in terms of richness. They are categorised below:

 

The method you use to communicate should be related to how complicated the issue is. The more complex the issue, the richer the method of communication we should use. There are a myriad of communication tools but here at ShieldGEO, we use the following:

Video

  • Zoom
  • Skype Video Call

Voice Call

  • Skype Voice Call
  • Telephone

Instant Message

  • Slack
  • Chatter (in Salesforce)

Email

  • ShieldGEO Email

When?

At ShieldGEO, we want to encourage autonomy. At the same time, we need to make sure that we are able to work together like a well-oiled machine. As such, we do have requirements and expectations in return for our ability to work remotely and flexibly.

Standard Working Hours (SWH) are determined by you, and agreed on with your manager. You may have different SWH on different days of the week depending on your life schedule. However, it is expected that you respond quite quickly during your stated SWH (~5-10mins). Continual inconsistency to be reached within your SWH means that a review and change in you SWH will be required.


                                                                                                                                          – Anonymous


Establishing SWH is one of the more important things we are concerned about at ShieldGEO, as the three key expectations we should have for ourselves, and therefore for each other, are:

  • Explicit and clear communication
  • Responsiveness
  • Reliability

Explicit and clear communication is of paramount importance in the remote work structure that we have here at ShieldGEO. Remote work calls for elevated levels of communication due to the fact that we are no longer working in the same spaces as our colleagues. Notifying a colleague that you’ve finished a tasked isn’t as easy as turning to them and communicating it verbally. It is important that we keep our colleagues updated of the tasks we’ve completed, are running late on, or need a little help with, so that we can prevent stressful situations for the entire team when meeting deadlines.

ShieldGEO has a diverse team, and we are located all around the world. This has large implications on how we communicate with each other. We have physical distance and time zones to account for. Cultural differences have been identified as one of the key determinants in communication breakdown. As such, we need to be wary of our colleague’s different backgrounds and how differently our colleagues communicate. Rather than getting frustrated, take time to understand why they may have communicated something in the way they did. However, we do encourage explicit and clear communication, making sure that everything is explained in detail. We would rather over-explain something, rather than not give enough detail and create confusion.

In extension to making sure you communicate clearly with your colleagues, it is also important that you are responsive during your SWH. Communication must be two-way. The instantaneousness of conversation in person is lost with remote work, and communication takes longer. Be aware of this when you nominate your SWH. It is not necessary to drop all your tasks straight away if someone asks to conduct a meeting with you, but you should be available to reply quickly, even if it is just to tell them that you are currently busy but can arrange to meet with them in an hour to discuss their issue. This responsiveness will help to avoid frustration and inefficiency.

A big benefit of having SWH is that you shouldn’t respond outside your standard working hours. That means if someone calls or messages on skype or sends an email outside of those hours, ignore it until you start work again tomorrow. Your personal time is your own and we don’t want work to intrude. This requires everyone to adhere to it, so we ask you to respect this same policy when interacting with your colleagues. Don’t call or SMS or skype someone outside their working hours. Make a chatter note or a comment in slack or even send an email, they will pick it up when they start work the next day. We don’t want anybody getting skype messages at 3 in the morning. 

These two expectations lead to the last one, which is reliability. The autonomy we provide to create a synergetic work-life balance is hopefully encouraging us to be more reliable for our own productivity and happiness, as well as encourage us to be more accountable and dependable in the work sphere.

Overtime is strongly discouraged. Unfortunately it is something that we have all had to deal with at times. The key aspect is that it should be unusual, not excessive and you should let us know about it. We would like to eliminate overtime at ShieldGEO. We feel strongly that it isn’t sustainable in the long term and that it leads to unhappiness, mistakes and burnout. 

Monitoring overtime can be hard to manage in a remote environment with flexible working hours. We don’t always know how many hours you have worked, and we can’t always tell why you logged on at 8pm. 

  • Was it because you took a few hours off during the day to run errands? That’s fine, although we hope you let your manager know so that people weren’t chasing you up for something during that time. 
  • Was it because that is your preferred time to work? Great, lets think about adding that into your SWH. 
  • Was it because you’ve got a ton of work at the moment and you can’t get through it without doing more hours? This isn’t good, please let your manager know so we can help reduce the load. Extra points if you flag this in advance so we can get you help before you get overloaded.
  • Was it because you’ve had to do this for a few days in a row? Please talk to your manager straight away! Working excessive overtime is a sign something isn’t operating properly and we want to fix it. 

Just to be super clear if you find yourself doing overtime on a consistent basis please let your manager know. Or talk to their manager if you would prefer.

There may be a number of reasons why overtime may be an issue for you. Some people find it hard to switch off, particularly because it is very likely that your work space is also your home space when you’re working remotely, and the lines of work and home are blurred. Outside of your SWH, it is discouraged that you are online on any communication platforms. We have written up a helpful guideline to help you work efficiently and switch off when you need to.

If overtime becomes a constant, you may want to talk to your manager about this issue, and discuss things which can be done to ensure overtime is not a requirement of you completing your job. If you do go through a session of overtime that was unavoidable, perhaps talk to your manager about possibly taking some time off in lieu to make up for it. There is also the possibility to discuss a change in your role design to better suit your ability and work-load.

ShieldGEO Leave Policy

This leave policy allows flexibility for employees to meet personal, family, work and community commitments without compromising the achievement of business objectives. The policy applies to all part time and full time employees.

Types of Leave

This policy covers the following types of leave:

  • Annual
  • Public holidays
  • Sick and carer’s
  • Compassionate
  • Maternity
  • Parental
  • Leave without pay
  • Long service

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to annual leave based on the minimum statutory requirements for the country in which they work, provided that the employee gets at least 20 days annual leave in addition to statutory public holidays. This means that if the statute in your host country only provides for 5 days of annual leave, then Shield will provide you with an additional 15 day days so that you receive 20 days of annual leave. Statutory public holidays do not include optional/special public holidays that some countries may have. Annual leave for part-time employees are calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Annual leave may not be taken for periods of less than one day.  If you need to take a few hours or half a day off, it is difficult to track it using annual leave, so we suggest that you just work it out with your line manager e.g. make up the hours another time. Accumulation of more than 20 days annual leave is discouraged and employees will be directed to take their leave annually. We want you to take your annual leave so that you get to relax and recharge.

This means that we, in principle, support the idea of “use it or lose it” if that is how annual leave is treated according to the regulations of the country in which you work. However, because our ultimate aim is that you take your leave, there is some flexibility. If your leave will expire on the 31st of December, but you want to take a holiday in February, then talk to your line manager and we can probably roll it over.

Requesting Leave

Employees must put forward a request for leave at least 2 weeks in advance of their intended leave date. Managers have the discretion to approve or object to the taking of annual leave.

Leave Period

The period in which leave can be taken is as per Calendar Year (1st January to 31st December), unless local employment regulations state differently. At Shield, it is encouraged that everyone takes their full leave allowance so that they can relax and recharge. This means that annual leave cannot be rolled over to the following Calendar Year unless local employment regulations provide otherwise. However, if the employee’s leave is set to expire on the 31st of December, but they want to take a holiday in February, then this may be negotiated with the line manager and the leave will probably be rolled over.

Public Holiday Leave

Employees are entitled to public holiday leave based on the minimum statutory requirements for the country in which you primarily work.

Sick Leave or Carer’s Leave

Sick and carer’s leave (also known as personal leave) covers both sick leave and carer’s leave.Sick leave is separate from annual leave. Full-time employees are entitled to sick and carer’s leave of the minimum statutory requirements for the country in which you work.

Employees are required to notify Shield GEO as soon as possible when they are absent due to illness or injury and to indicate how long they expect to be absent.

Employees may take paid personal/carer’s leave:

  • If they are unfit for work because of their own personal illness or injury; or
  • To provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household, because of a personal illness, injury or unexpected emergency affecting the member.

Compassionate Leave

Employees are entitled to compassionate leave of the minimum statutory requirement for the country in which you work. You will be granted the minimum statutory leave on full pay in respect of the death, life threatening illness or injury of a member of your immediate family or a member of your household. Shield GEO may allow for additional time off if travel becomes a problem.

Maternity Leave

Employees are entitled to maternity leave of the minimum statutory requirements for the country in which you work. We encourage you to have a discussion about your maternity leave preferences with your line manager.

You are entitled to the provisions for parental leave based on the minimum statutory requirements of the country in which you work. If your country does not support parental leave, then let’s work something out. We encourage you to have a discussion about your parental leave preferences with your line manager.

Leave Without Pay

Shield GEO reserves the right to accept or decline applications for leave without pay.

Long Service Leave

You are entitled to the provisions for long service leave based on the minimum statutory requirements of the country in which you work.

How to apply for leave

All applications for leave are made by the individual on directly. For employees in Australia, this is done via Xero. Other employees should email their line manager directly.

Who decides?

As mentioned previously, your line manager has the discretion to approve or object to the taking of any leave.

Shield GEO Work Equipment Policy

This work equipment policy ensures all employees have the correct and adequate equipment to complete their day-to-day tasks. The policy applies to all full-time employees. If you need anything that isn’t listed here, in particular if you need any additional support in order to be able to work comfortably and safely, please just let us know.

Places of Work

This policy covers the following places of work:

  • General work
  • Primary place of work
  • Multiple places of work

General Work

In general, you are provided with a:

  • Laptop
  • You may choose a laptop of your choice up to, or equal to, the value of $1000 USD. This laptop can be replaced after 2 years for one of equal value. We suggest a Lenovo Yoga (e.g. the 720 is pretty nice)
  • There is the option of choosing a laptop whose value exceeds the above, in which case the difference is made up in the form of the health and wellbeing allowance ($250AUD per month). This amount will not be reimbursed to the employee for the number of months until the difference is made up.
  • Keyboard / Mouse USD 50
  • Headset for voice/video calls (this can be a pair of headphones with an inbuilt microphone like you use with your mobile). USD 100

Primary Place of Work

At your primary place of work, the additional items of equipment are provided:

  • Monitor USD 150
  • Desk USD 150
  • Chair (Ergonomic 3 lever) USD 250

Multiple places of work

If you work in multiple places and want a second screen for your home, ShieldGEO will consider if working from home is regular enough to justify a second screen.

ShieldGEO Workplace Diversity Policy

Diversity & Inclusion

Every person is unique. At Shield GEO, we encourage an inclusive culture that embraces each individual’s differences. We believe that diversity of thought is vital to generating creative ideas, developing effective strategies and making better decisions. When hiring we do not discriminate by any unlawful means including, but not limited to, race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or veteran status.

We benefit daily from the diversity of our teams who come from different generations, geographic regions, cultural backgrounds and personal circumstances. By bringing together people with different ways of thinking, we generate the most value for our firm, clients and society. We do not tolerate discrimination.

We love unique

Some of us are critical thinkers and others are driven by creativity. Some are spontaneous while others are careful planners. It is this mix that leads to new ideas being created and challenged to derive the most effective solution. Through valuing each person’s unique talents, we provide an opportunity for our employees to do what they enjoy and reach their full potential.

Flexibility at Shield GEO

We understand that everyone has different needs, and that change is the only constant. We support our diverse and unique talent by embracing flexibility. Whether you’re passionate about travelling, prefer working from home, have dependants to care for, are taking on additional commitments outside work, need daily human interaction to stay sane or have any special requirements – let us know what’s going on and we’ll do our best to support you. To give you a small insight, we negotiate flexible hours and work-from-home opportunities with our employees who are working parents, and we can offer international assignment opportunities to those who have a hunger to travel.

 

 

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