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New Flexibility in the Workplace – Interview with Laura Ryan from Dropbox

Laura Ryan is Director of International HR and Dublin Site Lead at Dropbox, the content collaboration platform that helps organise work in the new world of distributed working. In this interview she answers questions around the new flexibility in the workplace.

People are using more and more technical devices. In terms of work, “Bring Your Own Device” has become “Bring Your Own Environment” with new requirements and possibilities: What changes is your company experiencing right now?

L.R.: With the shift of work during the pandemic, more and more people have enjoyed the freedom of not being tied to a specific place. Compulsory attendance has finally become irrelevant. As distributed working will continue to be possible in the future, employees everywhere are demanding more autonomy when it comes to deciding where and how they want to work. Along with this, employees also want more choice when it comes to using the tools they love. Over the past 18 months, the merging of work and personal life has made the average worker more aware of the tools available to them. Regardless of when the world fully opens up again, more and more people will use their preferred technologies both at work and at home. This means that employees are “bringing their own environment” – more of their own technologies, including PCs, apps, home networks and consumer consoles – and that’s why the last two years have been a very interesting time for our company. As developers of tools for distributed teams, we know that more technology doesn’t always mean better technology. We have always been committed to building an open ecosystem for our customers, where they can choose the tools that work best for them through our partners. However, we believe that employees need a safe and organised workplace to use all these new technologies in a healthy and productive way, bringing together digital tools – and all the notifications that come with them – in one central location.

What opportunities and challenges does BYOE bring for employees if a company wants to work mainly virtually?

L.R.: As part of our new virtual-first strategy, we want to introduce a new way of working for our teams. This working model means that all our employees will work primarily remotely and that all individual work can be done remotely. Employees will only meet in person about once a week to participate in joint team projects or team-building activities, which we call Dropbox Studios. Virtual First means our employees will have more flexibility and freedom to decide how and where they want to work – allowing for a greater variety of work styles, locations and schedules. We’ve broken down the concept of the ‘nine-to-five working day’ and created full flexibility for all our employees worldwide by introducing Core Collaboration Hours.

Core Collaboration Hours are four-hour time slots reserved for live meetings, based on the time zones where teams overlap the most. For example, a typical day for an EMEA staff member might include meetings between 10am and 12pm and then again between 4pm and 6pm to allow for cross-time zone collaboration. Teams have the freedom to adjust these times as needed, and the time outside of these hours is reserved for independent, focused work that doesn’t need to be done during the typical workday. Instead, employees can structure their schedules according to their own preferred work patterns, whether they are early risers or night owls – or parents who want to pick up their children from school. In this way, our employees can truly organise their own day, in the way that best suits the needs of each individual. […]

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Flexibilität am Arbeitsplatz InterviewLaura Ryan joined Dropbox in 2015 to lead the company’s international people strategy and operations, and works with her team to ensure Dropbox continues to grow as a highly attractive place to work.

Prior to that, she spent five years at Google, where she built the fast-growing geo-operations function for Europe, led recruitment activities and developed HR policies. Today, Laura has more than 16 years of experience in the HR industry.

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