Learn how to support the success of your people as you embrace a flex work environment.
Victoria Morton is currently the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Pexels, a leader in the open-source photography world that was acquired by Canva in 2018. She focuses on SaaS and nonprofit partnerships while also running her own creative strategy freelancing business on the side. Prior to Pexels, she led teams at both WE and the Toronto International Film Festival.
The best flex work environment is one in which employees are given the opportunity to decide the workplace for the day that is best suited for the tasks that need to be done, whatever they may be. Read the interview with Victoria below to learn how she feels best supported in the flex working world.
1. What does flex work mean to you?
On the practical level, flex work is just a deviation from the standard rigid workplace — whether that be the location or hours put into work. This means working longer hours some days to save time with family and friends, or simply choosing to work at a café because it’s the environment I need to be in for the day.
On a more fundamental level, flex work is prioritizing the outcome of the work and the wellbeing of the people that do that work, over the process of the work. It’s about finding what your people need to be successful in their roles.
2. What is your ideal working arrangement?
My answer for this is guided by the fact that I have ADHD. But — I also think that everybody has a lot more of a neurodivergent brain than they think. Or, more like different brain settings.
So, my ideal workplace is one that allows me to cater to whichever setting my brain is on that day. I like having a home base — a desk that is set up exactly the way I want, easy to get in the zone and do deep work. But I also like not being chained to that desk so that I can switch up my environment and surroundings, get a whiteboard out and get creative. And, this is also the best way to get the best work out of me as an employee — to support all my different facets.
Basically, I need to be able to change my surroundings based on the type of work that needs to be done. I appreciate the opportunity to figure out what environment I need to be set up for success depending on what I need to get done during the day.
3. What do you think are the advantages to flex work?
In my opinion, the main advantage to flex work is the organization’s ability to see that their most important resource is their people and their energy, and not time and place. The advantage is that organizations have the opportunity to mitigate energy levels as they see fit and truly set their people up for success and productivity.
4. What do you think are the disadvantages of flex work?
The disadvantages to flex work really only arise if it’s implemented without strategy. The goal of flex work is to increase energy efficiency of employees. If people don’t feel supported or that they have a clear vision of what flex work looks like at their company, it will not be productive nor a valuable work arrangement for the employees or the company.
5. Why do you think flex work environments are desired?
I think flex work environments are desired because it is a mutually beneficial setup. What I mean by this is that the employees want the flexibility to choose where to work depending on what sets them up for success. On the other hand, the company has the opportunity to have a diverse team spread out globally, access to an incredible talent pool and in many cases can lower their costs.
6. What’s your take on productivity for flex meetings?
I don’t think it necessarily comes to more or less productive meetings, but I do think in-person meetings help a sense of collaboration, brainstorming and camaraderie. So I think it’s more that having the occasional in-person meeting — even if it’s an annual retreat where everyone flies in to be together vs. a one day a week thing — there’s aspects of that that benefit companies and teams. Flex working teams can benefit from these occasional meetups, not so much productivity necessarily.
7. What would be your biggest concern regarding going into the office to work?
My biggest concern regarding going into the office is being in the right environment. Because we are navigating this new space of flex work, there are certain protocols that I worked out when I was in the office all the time that I think we need to re-figure out. For example, we had a thing called desk bombing at a previous office that I worked at. Desk bombing is basically people coming by and stopping at your desk to have little chats all the time, and that can be really disruptive. Sometimes I want to go into a co-working space because I find the accountability of other people being in the room also working, helpful. But I also find them coming over and talking to me to be really distracting and almost irritating. So it’s possible that you might want to work around other people, but not actually talk to other people at the given time. It’s important to set up what those protocols look like. I’ve seen one company that has little signs that say “I’m in the cave” which means you’re in the zone and you have a little thing on your laptop that says “I’m in the zone” vs. “I’m able to have conversations”. Re-establishing those social norms is going to be really important for the in-person part of flex work.
8. Do you have any advice for your peers as they also embrace flex work?
Flex work doesn’t mean doing exactly what you did in an office, but from home. Let go of any guilt about doing things differently. Book that midday appointment. Take that morning walk. Visit that co-working space. Open your laptop at 8pm, if that’s when inspiration strikes. Flex work isn’t just about freeing yourself from the office, it’s about embracing a work life that’s better for everyone.