By Paromita Bannerjee
Before covid most people were familiar with the traditional office workday, often much of your day would be consumed by commuting, chatting with co-workers, getting coffee and lunch with the remaining time spent actually working and very little (if any) time for yourself in-between.
Post-covid, many companies’ approaches to ‘remote working’ translated to an expectation that you be online and available 24/7 with 100% of your 9-5 spent working.
Ayata was founded by Shine Matthew with a singular purpose, making people’s lives easier, and this applies to everyone, especially our employees which is why we’ve been a remote first organisation since our founding in 2016. A strong work/life balance has always been a focal point of our business and is the foundation for our ways of working. Since we started with this approach, we’ve refined it, while optimising the focus on we have on a Family/Self/Work split, enabling people to chose where they work, how they split their own time and what they prioritise in their lives.
How do we enable a work-life balance?
Enabling someone to have control of their work-life balance isn’t easy! We try our best to ensure that we empower people to make choices about what’s most important to them so that they can grow, and work, in the most productive environment for them. As part of this, when we hire someone, our trust in them is implicit, we don’t expect them to ‘earn’ the trust required to work reliably from a distance with little oversight.
We select all our internal tools and technology based on how best to enable our employees to work efficiently while maintaining their work-life balance. We know working from home can be distracting which is why we attempt to increase productivity through guidelines for and careful selection of the right tooling as some tools have the potential to become noisy. If a tool isn’t making our lives easier, then we don’t use it. Additionally, we are focused on training and templatization to make things easier for individuals within the business.
Perhaps the most significant way in which we make our employees lives easier is through our expectation and attitude. For example, we have no expectation that you ever work more than 40 hours per week. In many companies there’s an expectation, spoken or unspoken, that you simply do as many hours as is necessary to get the job done. We don’t believe this is a sustainable approach and have no such expectation. While we still track time for the purpose of invoicing, we also use it to determine who is working excessive hours on any given project and evaluate if that project requires more resources to ensure we have a sustainable approach to individual work.
We have set hours of communication within the business and so long as our employees stick to those for their collaborative work our only expectation is that people fulfil their 40 hours to the best of their ability, but where and when they deliver those hours is at their own discretion.
But why do we maintain such a remote focus? What’s the benefit of the way we work?
As mentioned before, this way of working is intrinsic to Ayata, and the family/self/work split was always one of Shine’s goals in creating the company. We see the benefit of our approach both in feedback from our employees and our high retention rate.
A remote focus also saves time and money, people can cut travel expenses and commuting time alongside the host of other small office specific activities and regain that time to do the things they want to do, not the things they have to do. It also lets us hire the best talents regardless of location, we employee people from a variety of different countries and plan our scrum calls with their time zones in mind.
Our approach greatly lessens the risk of burnout from feeling like their wholly consumed by their business and allows people to prioritise their homes, their lives, and their happiness! We actively encourage employees to use their time as they see fit and create a schedule that works best for them. We’ve collected some examples of how the way we work has impacted our employees below:
Head of Client Services
“Being able to balance between work and home has always been essential to me. At one point in my career, I weighed over 90 kilograms (which is very heavy for my height) and I was surviving on 3 hours sleep a night.
Senior Software Engineer
“I joined AyataCommerce as a consultant and instantly got great exposure to new technologies and processes. I became a part of the technical team for the brand(s) I once admired, which excites me even now.
I’m lucky to work with an amazing team of experts with a very flexible work culture that ensures a low-stress professional life. The work environment is extremely positive and the company’s openness towards its employees is praiseworthy! The company treats its employees and customers with empathy as the highest value.
Travelling is my passion and when my company supports it through flexible hours and flexible locations; No words to express my joy!”
“When you have time to enjoy the little things in life without being restricted by the Monday to Friday 9-5 grind and travel to office; work becomes an entirely different experience and a passion you start to enjoy without compromising on your personal life, there’s no need to wait for the weekends. When it comes work life balance, I take cues from our Agile development framework to set my daily/weekly priorities.
Thanks to Ayata’s work from anywhere policy, I was also inspired by my team member’s decision to work for a month from the Himalayas. The option to work from anywhere at flexible hours allowed me to plan a staycation; and spend more quality time with my family and kids especially as both my parents are working. Ayata’s WFH is part of long-term strategy and not a knee-jerk reaction to COVID.
At Ayata you are never forced to get so busy making a successful career that you forget to have a life. Ayata creates an environment in which employees can build a successful career without the work burnout, because of the focus flexibility to live a sustainable, healthy life. As work pressures aren’t required to invade your personal life there is enough room to feel self-worthiness in your personal life which in turn reflects in work as higher productivity.”