A hierarchical corporate structure, strict 9to5 working hours and rigid processes that have been in place for many years – all of this no longer fits into the year 2019. More and more customers are approaching us because they want more agility for their companies. But only those who set an example themselves can give advice on the subject of “agile working”. That’s why we constantly keep optimizing our own project work, which we summarize together with internal organizational and cultural changes under the term “Nunatak 3.0”.

Hierarchies only within projects

Companies are much more flexible if relevant capacities and powers are not only available to managers, but also to employees who manage projects on their own responsibility. That’s because traditional top-down management is far too inflexible and slows down processes in our fast-moving working world. As soon as employees are able to work independently, innovative ideas have much more room. And when approvals for project decisions no longer have to go through countless instances of a company hierarchy, this also pays off in terms of project and resource efficiency. Managers must therefore expand their role as leaders: They should “empower” their employees even more to make self-determined decisions.

At Nunatak, we have therefore abolished hierarchies within the company. This starts and shows in the way we plan our holidays, for example: All employees are treated equally; everyone registers their own days-off without having to have them approved or released by third parties. As our “Unlimited Vacation” approach reveals, the number of vacation days at Nunatak is unlimited in principle. In other words, as long as no project is left behind, every employee is free to decide on recreation at his or her own discretion.

Only within projects that cannot do without hierarchical structures does the Project Manager have the content lead and coordinate the team. We work with a pool of Project Managers to whom incoming orders are sensibly distributed. Subsequently, they put together their own teams with suitable employees.

Such an approach not only signals trust in the staff, but also increases the personal sense of responsibility for the work performed. The thought behind it: More responsibility results in more willingness to perform and the will to get the best out of it. Maybe because the success of the project can also be directly attributed to the responsible employees and project teams.

In order to be as agile as possible when it comes to training, we at Nunatak organize ourselves into so-called practices. The lead is taken by those colleagues within the company who have acquired the most knowledge on a topic or an industry. In internal coaching sessions and with the help of best-practice presentations, the basis for knowledge sharing among colleagues is put into practice. There is also a stand-up meeting every Monday, where the teams exchange information about their respective tasks, gather feedback and share knowledge.

Collaborative tools make agile work easier

It is also important to act flexibly within the projects. Instead of looking at a task only in terms of its final result, the focus in the future should be more on tangible intermediate steps.

At Nunatak, we work through our tasks bit by bit with the Asana project management tool. Similar to what their competitor Trello offers, everyone in the company can see exactly which colleague is currently working on which project and what timeframe is set for it by looking at the tool surface.

Employees are free to decide which tasks they want to take on instead of being told to do so by a boss. If an employee selects a project card on Asana, all colleagues see his or her photo next to a deadline and therefore with a single glance as to when the task will be completed. Therefore, agile working does not mean that there are fewer structures. On the contrary, they are only more transparent for everyone.

Mobile Office: Working – no matter from where

We don’t just offer home office days, we also offer mobile office days. For example, an employee who wants to enjoy a long weekend in Portugal can book his flight for Thursday. On Friday he then works in a hotel or café and can start his holiday immediately afterwards. Basically, it is only important to be at a place with a proper wifi connection in order to being able to work for Nunatak.

Nowadays, work must above all make sense

While a few years ago it was common for companies to employ their interns mainly to make coffee, the labour market has now changed at all levels – towards a focus on intrinsic motivation and personal responsibility on the part of employees.

Great team events and a large coffee kitchen with fresh fruit every day are rather “hygiene factors” in today’s modern corporate cultures. In addition to changing working conditions and environments, the big issue of “purpose” is even more important: young people want a sense of purpose in their work.

A study published in the USA states that nine out of ten employees would be willing to accept even less salary for meaningful work. The respondents would forego up to 23% of their regular income – this shows how important meaningful work really is to them.

Due to the shortage of skilled workers, it is sometimes the companies that have to apply for employees. And this is easier for them if their employees are allowed to actively and self-determinedly shape the company. At Nunatak, this is partly guaranteed by the dissolution of traditional hierarchical structures. In addition, there is the unwritten law that a task always goes to the person who has the most in-depth knowledge on a subject, provided the capacities are adequate. If, for example, an intern proves to have a special affinity for financial topics, he or she will quickly be assigned a leading role in corresponding projects. Goodbye coffee making and hello responsibility!

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