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When I joined as chief people officer in April of this year, I had a feeling that Red Hat was going to be the right place for me because of the culture and our values. The last seven months have proven that intuition correct. Red Hatters not only welcomed me, but they embraced me and my ideas, despite coming from outside the company, and I’ve had incredible opportunities to see our open culture in action.
We talk about culture a lot. It’s become a bit of a buzz word around the industry, but too often it refers to casual dress codes, free candy and ping pong tables. But culture is so much more than that. At Red Hat, it’s about how we work, how we treat each other, how we develop ideas, and having a shared passion and purpose. That’s what makes Red Hat unique. (We do have plenty of fun too!)
Today, we are kicking off We Are Red Hat Week (WARHW), the annual tradition of celebrating our brand, culture and people. This is my first time celebrating WARHW and I am inspired by the variety of events and activities that Red Hatters have planned to recognize this week. Especially when we’re not able to connect in-person and in the same ways that we used to. It is challenging, but so crucial, that we find ways to break through the fatigue we’ve experienced through COVID and create moments to connect outside of our usual routine. WARHW is a mix of information and excitement. From learning more about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and sending recognition grams to my colleagues, to challenging them to a game in the Red Hat Arcade and giving back to communities around the world during a day of service, this will undoubtedly become one of my favorite Red Hat experiences every year.
WARHW is also a time for Red Hat associates to pause and reset on why we all chose the red fedora. To celebrate what we’ve achieved together and rally around our bigger mission of open source. The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed so much, including the way we celebrate WARHW, but it can’t change the spirit with which we come together. As we continue to refine what our future of work looks like, we have prioritized the voices of our associates and delivering what they need. We’ve taken the challenges of these past two years and found opportunities to be more globally inclusive, more committed to open collaboration and more supportive of one another. And that’s more than enough reason to kick up our heels (virtually)!
As I mentioned, WARHW is about more than just fun. It’s also about sharing information and giving associates a moment to prioritize themselves and their well-being. The pandemic accelerated the world’s moves to more virtual, asynchronous, global ways of working. When Red Hat shifted to full remote working in 2020, we saw an initial increase in productivity. There were a myriad of reasons for that, but one of the big ones was that we overpivoted into too much connection. It’s hard to imagine that you can have too much connection, but it’s a real concern and can lead to burn out. Associates were spending all day on video calls in an effort to replace the interactions they had in the office. We knew that some of this increased productivity simply wasn’t sustainable. We had to develop new, viable ways of working that could still power the culture that makes us unique.
We also turned our focus to the full well-being of our associates - physical, social and mental. We became less focused on who, how, and when we physically return to offices, and more focused on enabling better collaboration, connection, and inclusion--no matter where Red Hatters are in the world. During WARHW, we’re dedicating an entire day to well-being with special guest speakers, a step challenge and, depending on what people need, programs designed to boost motivation or spend some time on self-care.
Prioritizing our associates’ experience is what drives the sustainable growth of our culture and this practice is coming to life this WARHW, and every day we show up to work. Our open culture is our greatest asset because it gives every individual the opportunity to contribute their unique ideas and perspective. At its heart, WARHW is a recognition that we can do more working together than any of us could alone.
About the author
Jennifer Dudeck is Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Red Hat. In this role, she leads the team responsible for global human resources. She has more than 25 years of human resources experience, including leading enterprise learning and leadership development efforts.