Katherine McConnell is the Founder and CEO of Brighte, a purpose-led business on a mission every home sustainable, by providing finance solutions that accelerate the power shift to the home. Since launching in 2015, the company has processed over $1 billion of loan applications from more than 100,000 Australian homeowners and reduced householdCO2 emissions each year by more than half a million tonnes. In 2018 and 2021 Katherine was named Australia’s Outstanding Fintech Leader of the Year, and in 2020 Brighte became the sixth-fastest growing technology company in Australia.

What does a better world of work look like to you?

A world where people can do the best work of their lives while living their best lives.

What is your business doing to build a better world of work?

This year we announced to our team that Brighte is a remote first workplace. This means everyone works remotely by default and there’s no need to live in proximity to our Sydney based office. We still have our office and people choose to come in when they want to, but we’re really optimising for the remote employee experience. 

Over the past couple of years, we’ve worked remotely for long periods due to COVID and many of the team have expressed a desire to continue. Remote working has allowed our team to enjoy better balance in their lives as they juggle work and home life.

We want our team to be able to work wherever works best for them and their families, and to have flexibility in their days while also doing great work.

What are your predictions for how work will shift over the next few years?

I believe we’ll continue to see a preference for remote-first working. Even for those companies that never thought they’d move to a remote workplace, they will be pushed in this direction as they compete to hire talented people and these talented people want to live outside of tech hubs and work from home. The trends are indicating that most workers don’t want to return to an office fulltime. Since we made our remote-first announcement, we’ve seen people start to seriously consider where they live now, and where they want to live in the future. As more and more companies move to remote ways of working it will get harder to attract and retain great talent. There is more choice for employees - they are no longer tied to working in local companies, they can work anywhere and often get paid more for doing so.

I think we’ll also see a reduction in city office space requirements as we know it. We’ll see less ‘rows of desks’ and more hubs in working locations outside of central business districts. I think we will see workspaces in the city being used very differently as companies move away from a centralised workforce.

Thirdly, I think we’ll see a move to more asynchronous communication. I think the majority of companies just lifted and shifted their ways of working from the office environment to the remote environment and they haven’t changed how they communicate. Hours of meetings in offices have turned into hours of meetings on video conference. This will have to change.

People will no longer be tied to a ‘desk’ during traditional work hours, and we’ll focus on outcomes rather than hours. I do think we’re a long way from this today in most companies.

What is the biggest challenge you see for companies who want to improve the experience of work?

With the shift to remote, whether by necessity during the pandemic or by choice, many employees have either lost or become distant from their internal networks and community.

One of the biggest challenges for companies who want to improve the experience of work will be to figure out how to strengthen and grow internal communities remotely.

The challenge will be to find a way to build team cohesion, company culture and also company loyalty in a remote world where employees have strong bonds with their colleagues and high engagement with their company, their co-workers and the work that they are doing. Purpose will become increasingly more important - at Brighte we’re doubling down on our purpose to power a better future today!

What is one piece of advice you would share with businesses that are wanting to build a better world of work?

Listen to what your employees and future employees (candidates) want. Before you dismiss them as unrealistic, think outside the box about how you work, question how you have worked before - is it still relevant in our future world of work? Don’t be afraid to change things up and try new things in how you work.

Is there an individual you admire who you believe is building a better world of work?

Gemma Lloyd is doing great things through WORK180, which we partner with at Brighte. Gemma is co-founder and CEO of WORK180 and we met through Kim Jackson of Skip Capital, who is a mutual investor. 

The WORK180 jobs platform puts candidates, specifically women, at the centre in a really unique way. The platform pre-screens employers against criteria that makes a material difference to women’s careers; things like pay equity, women in leadership, leave entitlements, and remote and flexible working.

Know of someone who's building a better world of work?

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