How TraceLink Leveraged Hybrid Work to Drive Growth, Productivity, and Employee Experience
TraceLink is a leading software provider helping customers digitally manage their supply chains. It has 1000 + employees and multiple locations in the US, UK, and India.
While hybrid work first began as a way to manage work throughout the pandemic, hybrid soon grew to strategic importance for how the Massachusetts-based company manages rapid growth and modernizes its employee experience.
Hybrid work is now an integral part of TraceLink’s employee-first, collaborative culture, as well as how it manages its real-estate costs.
Need to retain and recruit talent amidst company growth
Implemented a hybrid work strategy as company designed more flexible workspaces
Robin enables over 60% of TraceLink’s team to utilize flexible workspaces monthly and grow collaboration space utilization by 166%
Move to new HQ as hybrid work was becoming “the new normal"
Brought on Robin as workplace experience platform and partner
Robin data helps TraceLink make informed decisions to optimize global workspace and hybrid policies
Need to maintain productivity and drive strong employee experience
Leveraged Robin to optimize existing office space for team collaboration
Partners with Robin to develop best practices and evolve strategy
The challenge TraceLink faced as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020 was pivoting their global operations from in-office to hybrid work while maintaining business growth and employee productivity. If that wasn’t hard enough, the tech company also had to experiment with the right way to design flexible work into their new global HQ.
Amid historically high levels of employee churn across the economy, TraceLink needed a solution to recruit and retain top talent in a fiercely competitive technology industry. As TraceLink continued to grow, it knew that delivering great software to customers wasn’t enough to differentiate itself in a competitive climate, it also had to deliver great employee experiences to engage its talent. Creating a plan to transition to hybrid work and software while providing an engaging employee experience was the first critical step to success.
TraceLink looked for a partner to address more than its technical needs, but also help it roll out hybrid work globally. TraceLink found in Robin a hybrid work partner to design global policies, best practices, and its new HQ footprint, all to deliver flexible ways of working.
“Having worked with Robin for over a year, I can see the amount of features and updates constantly being added to the platform, the continuous improvements Robin makes, and how they help us adapt all of it to our specific needs. These improvements help us do more.” says Jen Bozec, TraceLink Facilities Manager.
Working together, Robin and Tracelink crafted a strategy to:
Implement Robin to manage its 1,000 desks, 90 spaces and guest traffic across 5 global locations – all from one system.
Deploy Robin QR code stickers on workstations, to make it fast and easy to reserve/book a desk, check-in or change a reservation from the mobile app.
Define, develop, and iterate its hybrid work strategy for each of its locations.
Experiment with office configurations and flexible design approaches, especially in its new global HQ, as well as with assigned desks, hot desks, and hotel desks.
Educate its managers about how to drive in-office collaboration within a hybrid work model, enabling managers to plan and coordinate team schedules and workspace needs via Robin.
To maximize workplace flexibility, the architectural design of TraceLink’s new HQ incorporated features to accommodate hybrid work while also reducing its CRE footprint. “We reduced our footprint by 10,000 square feet, and we put a lot of effort into designing multiple kinds of working spaces so we could address the different needs for how our people wanted to work,” said Jen. “We divided our floor plan into multiple pods, which are like city neighborhoods, with every pod offering different spaces for working and connecting with people.”
The team considered what each pod would need for a collaborative, social and productive day in office. Each pod is equipped with its own:
Kitchenette (with different snack and coffee options)
Private spaces for phone calls
Standard closed conference spaces
Open collaboration spaces with different types of seating
“The engineering side might have more open collaboration space with soft seating,” says Jen, “while the finance side might have more closed conference rooms.”
Outcomes - Hybrid work as a competitive advantage
Robin helped TraceLink optimize its flexible workspaces. “Robin helps our people coordinate their schedules and figure out where they want to sit rather than roaming around when they arrive,” explains Jen. “People can access Robin not just to book a desk but to see where their teams are or who they want to work with on the days they come in. Robin even shows people where everything is, so they can find the nearest kitchenette or restroom.”
Reducing workplace friction. For TraceLink, reducing the friction people experience around coming into the office is a big part of hybrid work. “We don't want to have any friction when people come into our offices. There’s enough friction just driving in. We want people to come in, be productive, collaborate, and meet each other, which is why we implemented Robin,” says TraceLink’s Phillip Putnam, Director, Global Facilities, Real Estate and Operations. “We don’t want our company culture to be a box of images on Zoom.”
The global TraceLink team has embraced hybrid work, each team/location in their own way and according to their specific needs: Robin has helped the global team balance the benefits of flexibility and in-person collaboration.
In 2022 alone, TraceLink has seen a 58% increase in workstation utilization, as evidenced by Robin desk booking, and a 166% increase in usage of collaborative spaces.
Almost 100% of TraceLink’s team now uses Robin and over 60% of the global team uses the office monthly to facilitate collaborative, in-office work.
“The people that come [into the office] tell me they like coming in. They like having a team meeting in person, eating lunch with colleagues, or just having conversations in person. Once people come in, they realize that they get a much richer experience in the office versus on Zoom.”
Facilities Manager | Tracelink
Throughout the transition to hybrid, views have differed about what hybrid work should look like. That’s why TraceLink has been conscious to track key company outcomes, like ROI and speed to bringing products to market, and surveying employees along the way to ensure talent retention and recruitment.
“The proof is in the pudding” when it comes to hybrid work, says Phil, “and the companies that do it best will be more productive and also drive better outcomes in retaining and recruiting talent. We're trying to find the optimal balance between working from home versus working in the office. We want to stay ahead in this continuously changing, competitive environment,” explains lPhil.
Learning and evolving, together. “We're constantly doing evaluations and looking at the available data, testing ideas and approaches, talking to and surveying our people, talking to the Robin team about options, checking what our industry counterparts are doing,” says Phil. Both Jen and Phil say they view the Robin team as a trusted advisor helping TraceLink continuously evolve its approach to hybrid work.
Where are they now
TraceLink has continued to remain flexible with its workplace strategy. According to Putnam, “we have adjusted from a “hybrid environment” to a “full time in-house working environment with flexibility for our remote employees.” Tracelink team members are in office five days a week. With a good number of remote people still on staff which means desk hoteling is still used throughout the company.
In addition, at TraceLink’s global HQ in Wilmington (MA), all employees use Robin to schedule conference rooms while remote guests visiting the HQ use Robin to book a “hoteling designated workstation.”