Flexibility in workplace strategy can be hugely beneficial as businesses return to the office. In this episode, Rob Blair and Sabine Ehm talk through the different ways Rob and his team go about managing the offices of Spinklr.
Meet the guest
Rob Blair didn’t start out in workplace strategy and management. After completing his A-levels, Rob headed off to University. Only to quickly find out it wasn’t for him. Looking inward, he recognized his skills in creating human connections and fell into the hospitality trade. He ended up working in luxury-level hotel management for 9 years, taking him across the globe. Eventually, he found himself reevaluating his path. He began looking for an industry where his skills would be valuable.
Rob took a job in office management, where he eventually progressed to real estate. This lead him to where he is now: Senior Workplace Manager of EMEA at Sprinklr. Sprinklr is an international enterprise SaaS platform, with a goal of improving companies customer relations. The company is in high-growth mode and currently works with some of the top 10 brands in the world. With about 2.5k employees, Rob and his team have to be strategic in their plans for the office.
Listen to the following clips to learn more about Rob and his methods.
“At the end of the day, Spinklr is a huge tech company. And, although we don’t have the same budgets as Google or Facebook, they are our competition in the fight for talent.” – Rob Blair
The job market is hot right now, and companies are taking notice. Since the pandemic, employees and skilled workers have found themselves with more flexibility to chose how they want to work. Many companies are preparing for returning to the physical office space. Doing so, they will have to come to terms with what their employees actually want to do. Or may find themselves in hot water.
For Sprinklr, Rob has identified that they are competing with some of the biggest companies in the world. Luckily, the workplace and finance teams are able to come together to solve this problem. They position themselves as having an exceptional workplace experience. And being respectful of how the individual employee wants to work allows them to be competitive in the market.
“I think every organization needs to come up with their own definition of what hybrid working is. Because the term is thrown around quite a lot right now, and we interpret the hybrid working to differ from team to team, and office to office.” – Rob Blair
At Sprinklr, they’ve had the unique advantage in that they were already very flexible in their workplace strategy pre-pandemic. In fact, the multiple lockdowns haven’t changed the configuration or ways of working for the majority of the company. “We have got plans to make some changes to the office but actually, we’ve not changed that much. We’re obviously working on a reduced capacity, [but] the actual layout hasn’t changed that much.”
However, as the company plans for returning to the office, Rob and his team have created a series of interviews and surveys for each leadership team to better understand what will work best. He speaks to an example of one team in the US requiring a minimum of 4-days in-office, in comparison to a similar team in the UK that prefers remote working. On paper, you’d expect the teams to perform in a similar fashion, but that’s not reality.
“We have found difficulty when, for example, finance has assigned an extra 10 people to X region, but the leader of that region will say they know they’re going to be 15 by the end of the year. So then we need to figure out, how many people do we really need to find space for? And so, that’s where the flexible providers come in hand.” – Rob Blair
When a team within the company is looking to expand, approval must go through many levels before Rob gets his hands on it. Starting in Sales, then moving its way down to HR and Finance, Rob then gets to work with the local leadership teams to figure out what needs to happen from a workplace perspective. Oftentimes, there will be approval for a certain number of new hires, but in reality, it’s temporary. The team plans to expand even more, and that puts Rob in a difficult position.
To solve such a problem, Rob works a lot with flexible office space providers. By signing short contracts, the team is able to easily expand, and as Rob said, as long as they’re “increasing in size, they’re happy to help accommodate”.
As many companies plan for returning to their physical office spaces, they must be aware of what is actually needed by their workforce. Luckily for Rob and the Sprinklr team, they set themselves up for success in this area well before the pandemic hit. Looking into the future, the workplace strategy focuses on being careful to find out exactly what each individual team will need to improve their experiences moving forward. And, better yet, the new style of flexible working space providers has benefitted the flexible work style of the company immensely.