After months of navigating remote work, we know that many employees are interested in some level of working from the office. The pandemic has given the flexible work movement a much-needed boost, but also revealed the things we enjoy about the office: community, collaboration, even just a change of scenery.
As our way of work evolves, companies are tasked with striking the right balance between business needs, staff preference, and employee safety as we navigate a changing world and workplace.
Companies are approaching this in different ways. While some are marching into the future with an eye to remote-first teams, others are taking a more measured approach, offering flexible solutions based on the desires and needs of their employees. Many companies are seeing the shift as a way to enjoy the benefits of decentralization, such as an increased talent pool, higher productivity, and increased recruitment and retention.
Here’s how a few companies are moving forward in the New Year and what we’re planning for at Robin in 2021 and beyond.
HQ: Mountain View, California
Offices: 40+ decentralized global offices
With hundreds of employees spread across the globe, SaaS search and security leader Elastic was already familiar with the benefits of a hybrid approach to work. The company manages over 40 global locations available on a flexible basis for employee use. In the early days of the pandemic, the teams went immediately and fully remote.
While the team’s hybrid approach made the sudden work-from-home switch easier, the team at Elastic soon realized that bringing people back to the office would be a huge project. The old process of grabbing a random desk on arrival would no longer work. They invested in distance planning software to help them understand their capacity concerns and space needs.
With help from Robin, Elastic has been able to deploy flexible desking across its 40+ offices, letting employees book hot or hoteled desks on the days they want to come in. The team has also instituted the contact tracing system so that possible exposures can be quickly identified and handled. These investments in workplace experience technology and health & safety systems have allowed them to welcome back employees while giving them confidence and peace of mind.
The company intends to continue its culture of flexible work as they head into 2021, with a new focus on data-driven space planning and safety to ensure people feel comfortable when they arrive.
HQ: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Offices: 11 global offices
While Marketing pillar HubSpot has long shown support for a remote workforce (the company reports that 10% of their workforce was remote pre-pandemic and self-identifies as “remote-ish”), COVID-19 has served as the impetus for the company to enhance and expand their hybrid policies and practices.
The company has announced widespread changes to the way it engages in the daily experience of work. The largest impact being: beginning in January 2021, new HubSpot employees will be given the opportunity to elect their workplace:
- Work-from-home, in which employees will spend the majority of their time working from a home office.
- Flex, in which employees will work on-site two or fewer days per week. These employees will have access to a “hoteled” desk for their time in the office.
- Office, in which employees will spend three+ days in the physical office with a dedicated desk on-site, and a laptop for their work-from-home days.
According to the company’s internal numbers, an additional 16% of its workforce has shown interest in a full-remote work environment, with more desiring a flex arrangement when the office reopens.
While these elections provide maximum flexibility for the employee, this approach also broadens horizons for the company; it’s recruitment and retention initiatives will take advantage of a larger, decentralized talent pool that responds favorably to this new flexibility. Notably, the company will also feature “location-agnostic benefits and perks,” meaning that whatever work-style or location employees choose, compensation and benefits will remain consistent.
HQ: San Francisco, California
Offices: 2 global offices
Reddit, like HubSpot, will be tailoring its workplace, hiring, and retention strategy to the evolving world of work. For roles that can be effective outside of the office (the company cites exceptions like IT and Facilities roles), Reddit will give its staff the option of electing where and how they work.
They’ll achieve this balance of employee support and safe workplaces through a socially distanced approach to work for those who prefer flexible or in-person attendance, and a supportive, remote-friendly approach for those who want it. The company will focus on creating virtual interactions that “build culture and foster trust, collaboration, and innovation” within its teams in an effort to recreate the best parts of office life. They also plan to create in-person events for these types of culture-building opportunities in the future when it’s deemed safe to get together again.
Echoing other tech leaders, Reddit will create standardization of its compensation package without adjustment for location, offering employees the opportunity to do their best work in a location that works best for them. This gives Reddit the opportunity to expand its workforce under the best possible conditions for recruitment with an eye to diversity & inclusivity.
HQ: San Francisco, California
Offices: 25 global offices
Like many of its Silicon Valley counterparts, Twitter made a swift and immediate move to remote work in the wake of the virus. With over 800,000 square feet of high-value office space in its San Francisco headquarters, the move to WFH was no small decision. However, Twitter has embraced this rapid change, with CEO Jack Dorsey announcing recently that employees would have the ability to “work from home forever” even after the public safety concerns of the pandemic subside.
In May, the company began to lay out preliminary plans for any returning employees, reiterating that “opening offices will be our decision. When and if our employees come back, will be theirs.”
While the company had originally made a tentative announcement for a September return, the return to the office (for those that want it) looks to be more sometime in 2021 with numbers surging in the U.S. While a shift toward decentralization has been in the works since 2018, the sudden nature of the pandemic kicked those mid-term goals into immediate action.
Most recently, the trend away from in-person work has been evident in the company’s real-estate portfolio. Twitter is currently in the process of subletting 100,000 square feet of its headquarters to align with changing space needs for its in-person workforce.
HQ: Boston, Massachusetts
Global Offices: 1
Here at Robin, creating the best workplace experience for our clients is central to our product and mission. We’re one of the first places organizations turn to when they need help solving the challenges of serving their flexible workforce.
So, when faced with the challenge of keeping our own employees safe on home turf, we drew from that experience to engineer a practical, comfortable return for our Robinauts.
Making that return possible required us to look at the data and understand how our space could serve our people effectively, even with a necessary in-person reduction in headcount. We didn’t rush the return to work, choosing instead to pilot our Robin Return program with a small group of employees who had a strong desire to return to the workplace (about 30 in all).
Once we had our test crew in place, we empowered them with hot-desking using the Robin app for check-ins. We created a safe, socially distanced desking plan, empowered the team to feel confident in the office through access to cleaning stations, increased signage, and a health and safety system including health checkpoints and contact tracing capabilities.
As champions of flexible work, we have empowered our employees to work how and where they choose in 2021 and beyond, so we can help our clients achieve the same.
If you’d like to plan your safe, smooth return to work in 2021, we’d love to help. Reach out to us for a live demo and see how your workforce can evolve with the new world of work in the New Year.