At StackCommerce and Criteria Corp, Remote Work Might Be the Way of the Future

While tech companies like Help Scout and GitHub led the charge in terms of employee flexibility before such a perk became a necessity, in many organizations, the exception to the rule now looks like the way of the future. 

Written by Janey Zitomer
Published on Dec. 08, 2020
At StackCommerce and Criteria Corp, Remote Work Might Be the Way of the Future
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Criteria Corp
Criteria Corp

Here’s a statistic no one thought they would be reading a year ago: The number of remote jobs posted across the Built In network has grown by 117 percent since May, and applications for remote jobs are up 85 percent.

Whatever doubts CEOs and C-suite members previously had about the efficacy of remote work — like a decrease in engagement or productivity — have been more or less debunked over the last nine months. While tech companies like Help Scout and GitHub led the charge in terms of employee flexibility before such a perk became a necessity, in many organizations, the exception to the rule now looks like the way of the future. 

Below, two local CEOs open up about their preconceived notions surrounding productivity and connectivity. Spoiler alert: They see their teams embracing the new normal long after it’s mandatory to do so. 
 

Josh Millet
CEO and Co-Founder • Criteria Corp

Before the pandemic, Criteria Corp CEO Josh Millet worried that if he let employees work from home full-time, they would face a hurdle many professionals know well: increased distractions. But ever since team members from the HR tech company were forced to take their laptops home in mid-March, productivity has actually increased across most departments. 
 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

Before COVID-19, our company was cautiously moving toward a policy that would allow for increased remote work. Honestly, this was partly based on a fear that remote workers might be less engaged or less productive than employees coming into the office every day. It wasn’t a trust issue; rather, it was based on personal experience and conversations with employees. 

However, we had lost a great salesperson who was a single mother because our policy at the time didn’t allow for entirely remote work. So we gradually decided to experiment with having some team members work from home for one or two days a week. But we were squarely on the fence about whether we could expect the same level of productivity from our remote employees.

The productivity question has been answered pretty decisively.’’

 

How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce, and what does this mean for the future of your business?

The productivity question has been answered pretty decisively. Though COVID-19 has challenged work-life balance, I feel like the overall productivity of our team is at least as high from home as it was from the office, in almost every department. In fact, most people in our organization are more productive from home.

The main drawbacks we have witnessed come from lack of engagement, collaboration hurdles and difficulty onboarding new employees. It’s harder for employees to feel the benefit and uplift of our company culture when working from home. 

 

Josh Payne
Founder & CEO • StackCommerce

Without the ability to walk over to someone’s desk and ask them an informal question over a cup of coffee, what does brainstorming look like? 

This is a question that StackCommerce Founder and CEO Josh Payne found himself wondering as the e-commerce team went fully remote earlier this year. As it turns out, Slack calls have served as a solid alternative, giving leadership confidence in the idea of a partially remote workforce long term.

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

I thought that the team would be disconnected, which would hinder our ability to act quickly and iteratively as a company. Camaraderie and teamwork have always been central to Stack, and it was hard to picture what our company would look like without being able to walk over to someone’s desk at any given moment.

It was hard to picture what our company would look like without being able to walk over to someone’s desk.’’

 

How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce, and what does this mean for the future of your business?

I realized that staying connected may look different as a remote company, but it’s no less effective when we implement new best practices as a team. For example, we started leaning into Slack calls as an important form of communication. In a virtual world, they serve the same purpose as walking over to someone’s desk. We also implemented daily sync-ups across all teams to make sure we get facetime every day. 

We are confident we can successfully move forward as a partially remote team, and are enthusiastic about the opportunities this flexibility can bring.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies.

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