TJ interviews: Ally's Vetri Vellore
Ally founder Vetri Vellore talks about the positive changes to the new workplace.
A lot of people have been saying ‘when things get back to normal’, but what if we aren’t going back to normal - and what if that’s a good thing?
The 'normal' we’re going back to won’t be the 'normal' that we’re all familiar with. The past year, businesses large and small spent copious amounts of time (and money) overhauling and transforming not only their tech stacks to support remote work but also company cultures.
And that’s certainly a good thing because it’s the people who drive organisations forward. The real question we should be asking is how we can proactively shape our return.
When we’re ready to go back into a shared space again, how will that look? Rather than tactical meetings about the work on hand, I hope our office space will become like a watercooler where teams gather to share ideas and talk about things beyond projects and deadlines.
It’ll become a social destination that strengthens our team cultures and spark more innovations as we’re finally able to connect beyond a screen.
Everyone has their take on hybrid working. What do you think that looks like at this point?
In the simplest terms, it’s a mixture of teams working from various environments - some from the office while others at home or in a cafe. A positive change we’ve noticed from working remotely is that employees are holding each other accountable and trust each other.
Without being together in an office, we have learned to trust that everyone will get their work done and achieve goals they have set for themselves. I expect this to stick around in a hybrid environment since not everyone will be together in a physical space at once.
Another aspect I think will increase is the celebrations. People bond by overcoming challenges together, and celebrating wins - big or small, in the office or not - is a way to build upon our relationships.
What workplace habits should we be glad to see the back of?
Employee monitoring tools became prolific during the height of the pandemic as many companies didn’t know how to measure productivity. So instead, with good intentions, they turned to these tools to help them better understand how their employees were doing.
Without being together in an office, we have learned to trust that everyone will get their work done and achieve goals they have set for themselves.
This turned into a numbers game that no one wanted to play. Screen time, active status, ambiguous productivity scores generated from tech stacks were all used to track an employee’s progress. It carried a negative connotation and implied a lack of trust between leadership and their team.
Once companies begin returning to the office, we’ll likely see less of these software used and better alignment and transparency between teams again.
What are your productivity hacks for 2021?
- Redirect discomfort into productivity: If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past year, it’s that uncertainty brings a whole lot of discomfort. After all, few people are comfortable with change. Planning cycles have shortened, and this invisible pressure caused leaders and their teams to learn and adapt more quickly. Savvy leaders used this opportunity to redefine outcomes and focus on what they can control in the near term. They’ve learned to redirect this energy to strengthen the best parts of the team and challenge previous norms. This will no doubt be useful as everyone figures out how to navigate a hybrid workplace model.
- Get rid of 'toxic tasks' first: Toxic tasks are ones that take up mental bandwidth but could be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. We’re talking about the ones that everyone dreads working on, and usually ends up procrastinating and pushing it off until the last possible second. If those tasks are knocked out first, people spend less time agonising over it and more time on things we actually want to do.
- Know your goals: Set goals that play to your strengths and partner with teams and people who can help you acquire goals you know are harder to achieve alone. Teams should also be differentiating between committed goals (goals that will be achieved) and aspirational goals (goals with no clear path and can roll over year after year).
About the interviewee
Vetri Vellore is founder and CEO of Ally.io
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