This week saw a new addition to the team, a Technical Architect. Except he’s been around for a while.

I’m firmly of the belief that we need to look to do things better now we have found out that flexible working can work at scale, rather than constantly pining for how things “used to be”. Those times aren’t coming back.

And so it is with the onboarding of new recruits into a team. If you are working flexibly and remotely, the traditions of how we work to transition from job to job, particularly when changing employer, can be radically different.

In the old world, when someone changed organisations, the process was formed with a series of binary steps.

  • You are employed by old employer.
  • You are offered a new job with a new employer.
  • You decide to take it, accept it, and then give notice to your old employer.
  • You then work out your notice for 1-3 months becoming increasingly disillusioned usually having “checked out” on the day you gave in your notice. People also stop talking to you and involving you in things.
  • 1-3 months later you start the new job, relieved to have exited from career purgatory.

To my mind the whole of this process has been built around work being tied to a specific place.

Over the last three months, our new Technical Architect unconstrained by physical location has been ramping down his old job and ramping up his new. He’s been attending new team meetings when old team commitments allowed, and generally getting his head around the new place. The last two weeks of his old job were actually quite busy as his former colleagues stepped out of denial that he was actually leaving, but otherwise the transition has felt far smoother than the usual new employer experience of “3 months of waiting”.

None of this would have been possible if not for the fact that both old and new employers were working completely remotely throughout.

I’m sure that some HR people will have a strong negative reaction to this- how can someone be working for two organisations at the same time? But these are the kind of assumptive old patterns of working that we need to change if employees and employers are really going to start to think about how flexibility of working can make work better.

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