Should Your Team Continue Working Remotely?
Questions to ask yourself — and your employees — to help you decide.
From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, companies of all sizes across a variety of industries are at a crossroads. Should they say goodbye to the office forever?
Before we talk about a framework that can help you answer that question, it's important to note that not every company can even ask it. If your business is in manufacturing, food service, hospitality, healthcare, or any other number of vital industries, you and your employees may not have the option to work remotely. In that case, your planning will have to be around how to protect your employees' physical safety and health while they're on the job.
But if your team's pre-pandemic day-to-day experience included commuting to an office building and sitting side-by-side in open floor plans and big conference rooms, you've probably been working remotely for a while now as one of the white-collar companies that the New York Times noted are in a "race to be last to return to the office."
That race makes sense in the short term. No company wants to put their team in jeopardy and risk an office breakout of the coronavirus, which is why companies like Google and Facebook are letting employees stay home until at least next year. But in the medium term and beyond, working remotely indefinitely isn't the only option.
It's a good option, and one that's worked for many companies that make software or provide services that can be done virtually. (PowerToFly is one of those companies—we've been all-remote since the beginning!) Working remotely means saving big on office space, having access to a global talent pool, and optimizing for results versus hours logged, giving employees the freedom to do their work when and from where they're most productive. And all of that can sound really appealing both to employers and to employees.
But working remotely isn't without its pitfalls, including challenges in building company culture (which can affect recruiting and retention) and fostering the right environment for creativity and innovation.
To decide whether your team should continue working remotely, ask these questions:
1. How have your employees been doing during this time?
Objective measurements matter, and we'll get to those in a moment. But managing through this pandemic requires an outsized amount of empathy. Start the process of answering "Should we go back to the office?" by asking the people who would be returning to that office what they think. And actually listen—there's no better source of information about the future of your workforce than that workforce themselves.
You can ask your team for their input through a survey, a meeting, or 1:1 calls. We recommend doing a wide-reaching survey first (which you can make anonymous, if you feel it'll give you better results) and following up with individuals to get more color.
Ask the following questions of your employees to understand what their preferences are about the future:
- How has your productivity been since you've been working from home?
- Have you felt connected to work and to your coworkers while working from home?
- Would you prefer to work from home instead of the office in the future? Why or why not?
- What have been the biggest pain points of working from home? The biggest opportunities?
- Does your enthusiasm about this company or position change over the long-term if we no longer have an office?
- What ideas do you have for how the company's operating model should evolve in the future?
- In your ideal world, how many days a week would you be able to work from home?
2. How has your company been performing during this time?
Now it's time to look at the numbers. Depending on how your company quantifies performance, you may have key performance indicators to look at, progress reports, financial projections, and other data to consider. Gather all of those inputs with your leadership team to review, and consider these key questions:
- Are you meeting key milestones for the development, improvement, or production of your product or offering?
- Can support departments like marketing or HR hit their milestones remotely as well?
- Are your customers or users satisfied? Can they still be serviced effectively by a remote team?
Some KPIs are vital to running a business—including financial ones like monthly revenue or customer acquisition costs—but are less relevant as you strategize the possibility of long-term remote work, since they're currently being greatly affected by the pandemic. Your goal in looking at the data is to understand whether in a normal environment, your company could function well working remotely, using this extended shelter-in-place period as a kind of unplanned experiment.
3. What's practical and safe?
Once you know what your employees want and what your business needs, it's time to overlay a level of practicality on top of your strategy.
Let's look at Austin-based software company Pinpoint as an example of how this could work.
As covered in this Marker story, Pinpoint's lease was set to end this August, and its CEO was planning on more than quadrupling the square footage of their future lease to accommodate his growing company.
But then the pandemic hit and Pinpoint's whole team started working remotely. The CEO surveyed his team and found out that half of his employees wanted to continue working from home. Considering that Pinpoint's main products—programs to help build software better and to better manage the engineers doing so—are remote-work-friendly and slated to fare well in an economic downturn, per Business Insider, Pinpoint's KPIs are probably looking good. (The articles didn't include hard data as to whether that was the case, but let's, for the sake of this example, assume that to be true.)
Now, Pinpoint's CEO is considering a hybrid model: signing a lease for less than half the space he thought he would need in a different, less expensive neighborhood (considering that fewer employees would be regularly commuting); looking for different amenities within that lease (no desks, but instead spaces for collaboration and meetings); and otherwise enabling employees to work from home.
Here are some practical realities to consider:
- Is it safe to return to the office in any capacity? If no, you have your answer for now. Listen to government officials, health organizations, and certain key stats—like whether there has been 14 days of reduced COVID-19 cases in your area—to determine when going back to the office is even an option.
- What are the conditions of your current lease? If you have a multi-year lease, can you get out of it? If not, can you rearrange the space you have to be optimized for a new working model, like by getting rid of cubicle farms and instead investing in socially-distanced hotspots for anyone who does come in?
- What can you do with the money that previously went to your lease? If you decide to get rid of the office entirely and your lease allows you to do it, can you reinvest some of that money in remote-friendly policies, like giving employees a stipend to buy technology or furniture for their home offices or making weeklong retreats a regular thing? Both of those can go a long way in smoothing out some of the bumps of remote work (such as working from an ill-equipped home office or not getting facetime with coworkers), while still helping the bottom line.
Going forward, there's no one right answer.
The future of work might look like remote employees coming together in socially-distanced ways to collaborate or connect. It might look like the complete extinction of office buildings and downtowns. Or it might look much like our pre-COVID reality, just with much more hand sanitizer. (Remember that post-9/11, some prophesied that no one would want to work in a skyscraper again. That didn't last long.)
Right now, all you can do is start gathering information and strategizing about what's right for your company in the long term. We hope the above framework and questions can help.
And if you're interested in learning more about running a remote company, check out the resources below or get in touch with our leadership team—we're happy to share our story.
Branwyn Baughman, recruiter at Lockheed Martin, shares an exclusive take on the most important tips to keep in mind when preparing for an interview.
Take a look at the company's application process, culture, and values, as well as some top-notch tips that Branwyn outlines on how you can make your application stand out.
To learn more about Lockheed Martin and their open roles, click here.
6 Tips for Companies & 5 Tips for Individuals from Indeed's Group VP of ESG, LaFawn Davis
Earlier this month, LaFawn Davis, Indeed's Group Vice President of Environmental, Social, & Governance, joined us as part of our Diversity Reboot Summit to talk about the 'shecession' experienced by many women, and especially women of color, as a result of COVID-19.
LaFawn shared some great tips for companies and individuals looking to be part of "the great rehiring." If you're looking to find a new role, or to ensure that you help bring back diverse talent displaced by COVID, check out her advice below, and catch her complete talk here or by clicking the video above!
Q: What would your advice be to companies that are looking to step up their diverse hiring in 2021?
My advice: Good intentions are no longer good enough. Nobody wants to hear what you meant to do, wish you could have do, intended to do. Nobody wants to hear that you can't find Black Women or any other dimension of diversity. We're obviously out here.
My squad and I have a saying "Impact over intentions." So, if 2020 was the year of good diversity and inclusion intentions, let's make 2021 the year of actions and impact.
So, now that we got that out of the way. If you're looking to step up your diverse hiring. Stop and get your house in order. Because you shouldn't just want to hire a diverse workforce, you should want to grow and keep them too. So there are 5 things, ready?
1. Focus on long-term systemic change.
There's a lot of momentum — and need — for change right now. It's not just about a message of support or donating to a cause one time. Take a look at your own systems. How do you hire and grow employees? Do your succession planning, talent reviews, recruiting and other processes have built-in biases? Is equality part of your core values? Are you actively working toward change? Recognize that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. Above all, hold yourself accountable for the way things are, then work to improve.
2. Take a close look at your data.
Share it internally to be transparent with employees of where you are now. When possible, share it externally to be visible and accountable (I'm happy to announce that Indeed will be releasing its own diversity data this summer). Use it as a baseline for comparison against what you hope to achieve.
3. Change behavior.
Focus on behavioral changes throughout the company with an emphasis on coaching, training, and having crucial conversations with managers. Leaders and managers set an example for the entire workforce. If employees see the behavior of managers or leaders in a negative light, a true sense of belonging is difficult to achieve.
4. Representation matters.
If leadership roles are perceived as exclusive to many members of the workforce, then a broader sense of belonging will continue to elude many employees. People in leadership roles should reflect the diversity of a company's workforce. Observing someone "like me" in a leadership role helps attract and retain talent and motivates workers to pursue roles with greater responsibility.
5. Create Policies And Procedures Reflective Of The Entire Workforce.
As you work through new or existing policies and procedures, be aware of barriers experienced by different populations. Take, for example, the case of caregivers. More scheduling flexibility for calls can go a long way for employees who share their home workspace with others and must tend to family responsibilities while working remotely.
Q: Do you have advice for individuals that are looking for new career opportunities, especially women of color who might have lost their previous jobs during the pandemic?
Adaptability has always been an important part of an individual's career progression - even before COVID-19, it is especially important now.
It is important to show a potential new employer how your abilities adapt to a new role or a new industry. Focus on skills more than just experiences because skills can be applied in so many different ways. So… I'll give you 6 things for this one.
1. Perform a professional audit. Taking some time to understand your qualities, qualifications and values can help focus your career transition and narrow down your career path options if you haven't already. Doing so can also help you understand how you might position yourself during the job search.
2. Identify your hard and soft skills. Soft skills are often the most transferable, so identifying them early can help you understand the ways you might bring value to a new role or industry. Taking inventory of your hard skills will help you identify if there are certain industries that might be easier to transition into.
3. Highlight your biggest career wins. Communicating the impact you've made throughout your career can help employers quickly understand the value you'll bring to their organization, even if you come from another role or industry.
4. Utilize online job search to your advantage. Pay close attention to the requirements and duties of jobs so you can evaluate whether the career would align with your skills, interests and values.
5. You just need to meet "most" of the qualifications. Try to focus on positions for which you meet at least 60% of the qualifications with your transferable skills. Meeting 60% of the qualifications isn't a hard rule, but it's a good general guideline to help you determine whether it's worth applying for.
6. Get a sense of the company. Before interviews, do some research to learn how inclusive a company is. Peruse the organization's core values, its social media accounts, and any recent statements in support of marginalized groups. Pay attention to the interviewers themselves. Is the panel diverse or are you likely to be an early "diversity hire"? If the interviewers seem to be emphasizing "cultural fit," ask what that means. Basically, be an active participant in the hiring process. You are also interviewing the company, as much as they are interviewing you.
Stephanie Acker, director of inside sales at Commvault, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the company's application process, culture, and values, as well as her own career journey.
To kick things off, Stephanie mentioned the three things that make a great inside sales professional: an independent work ethic, the ability to learn and execute on their own, and an awareness of what keeps them motivated.
Over her 12-year career at Commvault, Stephanie's greatest motivation has been helping customers to find solutions and catapult them to success. In both her past role as a sales representative and her current director position, Stephanie remains committed to ensuring her team understands what motivates them to sell and setting them up for success.
The biggest surprise during her career at Commvault was becoming the director of inside sales. Stephanie shared that she loves working for a company that listens to new ideas, thinks outside of the box, and tries new things.
Don't miss her take on what moves a candidate forward in the interview process! For example, Stephanie loves when the interviewee gets into "the zone"—showing their selling technique. She also shares her favorite interview questions.
As Stephanie says, stop thinking and apply today!
To learn more about Commvault and their open roles, click here.
When you think about strong female leadership, what comes to mind? For Tatiana L., a global client partner in Miami, it's about more than having an executive seat, being a mother, or making dreams come true. "Good leadership is about being open, flexible, and able to understand different perspectives," she says. "It's about fostering collaboration, bringing people together, and empowering them to connect."
Tatiana L. is a global client partner based in Miami.
Tatiana is part of the Women@ Facebook Resource Group and helped plan Women's Leadership Day, an annual global community summit. While the highly-anticipated event takes place over just one day, its massive impact is felt over the course of the entire year.
Amy W. is an operations lead based in London.
"Women's Leadership Day is more than an event. It's energy, and it's a movement," Amy W., an operations lead in London, says. "Moments like this can completely change the perception of women in technology."
From choosing the content and programming for the event to making it accessible for women around the globe, we went behind the scenes with seven members of the Women@ Facebook Resource Group to learn more about how women are empowered—and are empowering one another— in their career journeys at the Facebook company.
Behind the scenes with Women@
Amanda M., an internal recruiting manager based in Singapore, speaking onstage at 2019 Women@ Leadership Day in APAC.
"I've always been passionate about empowering women, but I didn't know how I could do it at work. My first Women@ experience changed how I felt at Facebook," Amanda M., an internal recruiting manager in Singapore, remembers. "From then on, I wanted to help other women feel heard, valued, and confident."
Planning the global event, which brings together women from more than 20 countries, calls for close collaboration across multiple teams, regions, and timezones. Members of Women@ also partner with other Facebook Resource Groups, such as the Pride@ Resource Group, Latin@ Facebook Resource Group, Desis@ Facebook Resource Group and Black@ Resource Group, to ensure all women at Facebook are represented and feel included.
Vivian V. is a program manager based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"Across regions and communities, we each bring unique differences and powerful stories. When one of us moves forward, we have the opportunity to bring all of us forward," Vivian V., a program manager in the San Francisco Bay Area explains. "While planning the summit, we meet weekly to talk about what women in different regions are experiencing. From the event theme and content to planning speaker sessions and fine-tuning details, we each have items to own. Two months before the summit, we meet daily to share updates and make sure nothing slips through the cracks."
"Just like me, women in APAC look forward to Women's Leadership Day all year long," Amanda says. Planning something that's deeply meaningful to so many people can feel like a lot of pressure, but at the same time, it's uplifting. I appreciate that we have the opportunity to talk about our individual and shared challenges, and we map out ways we can build community while empowering leadership for women across the globe."
Empowering confidence, equality, and leadership through storytelling
Paris Z., a vertical strategy lead in Singapore, and Amanda M. collaborate with women across the globe to plan Women@ programming and events.
Women's Leadership Day encourages women to talk about challenges like experiencing imposter syndrome, breaking through barriers, and how to manage work/life flexibility. "Storytelling is a huge part of the event," Paris Z., a vertical strategy lead in Singapore, explains.
Vivian says, "I've been at Facebook for nearly two years and help plan these events, and honestly, I never really understood imposter syndrome before I got here. Working with the Women@ community and hearing from our speakers—who are talented, brilliant superstars—I've seen firsthand how it affects them too."
Michelle C. is a client partner based in London.
Michelle C., a client partner in London, says that the summit's speaker sessions, which feature people from inside and outside of Facebook, are a highlight of every event. "We had a speaker from Tel Aviv who talked about the importance of balance in her personal life and how she co-parents with her husband. She shared specific things she's done, like adding her husband to the WhatsApp chat groups for mothers she's in and reminding her daughter's school that her husband is also available when their child feels sick. Her message was that we'll never be equal in the workplace until we're equal at home, and it really struck a chord."
Paris says that in APAC, Eva Chen's talk about facing challenges amidst the coronavirus pandemic and how she's raising her daughter was a top-rated session because it was so relatable. "From talking about her daughter's love for dinosaurs—a "boy" thing—and raising kids to fully be themselves to opening up about what it was like to grow up with immigrant parents from China and Vietnam, Eva inspired us with her authenticity and openness. Her struggle to feel supported while working in fashion and tech, rather than medicine, is something a lot of people in APAC understand."
"Every woman has a unique story," Michelle says. "Hearing from others is inspiring, validating, and truly eye-opening. It reminds us that we're not alone."
A memorable and lasting impact
It's no surprise that with the tremendous amount of planning and careful consideration that goes into the summit, its full impact is impossible to measure.
"It meant so much to me when people shared such positive feedback about Women's Leadership Day," Paris says. "We heard that some attendees felt inspired for days and weeks."
Kira G. is an agency partner based in Berlin.
Kira G., an agency partner in Berlin, has witnessed how the summit's programming can inspire action, even helping people push past a career plateau. "We might reach a point in our careers when we think, "I can't do this anymore, I'm not moving forward'," she says. "Women's Leadership Day gives us fresh perspectives, shows us new approaches, and starts important conversations. This can unlock new paths for growth and help us move forward."
Impact is felt in other Facebook groups, communities, and across teams too, inspiring interest and allyship. Amanda explains, "I felt so proud when a male VP from the Sales team came to us after hearing about what people talked about at Women's Leadership Day. He told us he wanted to learn more because it's everyone's responsibility to be an ally."
Empowering the community throughout the year
While Amanda describes Women's Leadership Day as a "bump in energy and inspiration" and "an injection of adrenaline", Vivian says that the real magic is what happens afterwards—and takes place all year long.
"When we think about Women's Leadership Day, our focus is on making sure that the powerful messages we hear and experience serve us throughout the entire year. We ask ourselves questions like, "How can we sprinkle these themes into our programming throughout the month or quarter? How do these ideas fit with our Women@ initiatives?" Going through something awesome together is just the beginning. Our work takes place year-round and we're constantly building on it to do more."
Paris agrees: "There's no shortage of amazing stories from our Women@ community throughout the year. Women's Leadership Day is just one channel for those stories, and I love how it stays top of mind with people and empowers them to do more good. When we come together, we can do anything we dream of."
"We're building a sisterhood and a community," Tatiana beams. "It feels so good to know there's always someone there to support you."
Learn more about Facebook's Employee Resource Groups, including Women@ here.