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2 Nov 2021

Did the Tech World Open the Gate to Normalize Remote Work?

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Amaury de Thibault


During the coronavirus pandemic, tech companies were the first to embrace remote working. Makes sense, right? Because their operations revolve around digital products and services you’d think the tech industry is one space where remote work would thrive. But since restrictions have been lifted, bosses at a lot of major companies are pushing for employees to return to the office at least 2 or 3 days a week.

Why? Because there is a belief among execs that shared office spaces lead to innovation. That’s why tech giants like Google have spent billions of dollars on corporate campuses with communal areas for co-workers to come together in - to encourage spontaneous collaboration.

However, one of the biggest benefits of remote teams is that they are more creative. Hiring remotely means you’re not limited to the talent in a single area, and by bringing people together from different locations and backgrounds, your organization will benefit from a diversity of thought that’s often out of reach for centralized companies.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the remote work arrangements of three of the world’s biggest tech companies and explore what the future of remote work might look like in this sector.

Industry leaders & their remote work policies


Microsoft

- Location: Redmond, Washington, USA
- CEO: Satya Nadella
- Market Cap: US$2.3 trillion
- Number of Employees: 181,000
- Remote work model: Hybrid


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has operated on a hybrid work schedule that allows employees to work from anywhere they want for half the week and go 100% remote with approval from their managers. To standardize their approach to hybrid work, Microsoft released a company-wide guide that covers things like hiring across geographies and updated security measures.

Slack

- Industry: Technology, software and services
- Location: San Francisco, California, USA
- CEO: Stewart Butterfield
- Market Cap: US$26.5 billion
- Number of Employees: 2,597
- Remote work model: Hybrid

In June 2020, execs at Slack announced that all current employees would have the option to keep working from home on a permanent basis (although they’d be keeping their physical workspaces open for anyone who wanted to return to the office). For new hires, most open positions are being made available to remote candidates. Slack is also rethinking the traditional workday, trialing an asynchronous work schedule, where employees are encouraged to work their hours in a way that suits them.

LinkedIn

- Industry: Technology, social networking
- Location: Sunnyvale, California, USA
- CEO: Ryan Roslansky
- Market Cap: US$29.5 billion
- Number of Employees: 16,000
- Remote work model: Hybrid with a fully remote work option


LinkedIn’s first proposed hybrid model was based on employees splitting their time 50/50 between home and the office after lockdown. But in July last year, they amended their policy to give employees in all locations the option to work from home (WFH) permanently if they preferred.

Source: Human Resources Director, all information is accurate to October 2021.

What is the future of remote work in the tech industry?


According to a 2020 survey by Indeed, 96% of tech employees believe remote work is the future of their industry. Almost all of the 610+ workers surveyed said they preferred working remotely because it offers them greater flexibility and provides a better work-life balance. Two thirds of respondents also believed remote work would have a positive impact on workplace diversity, allowing for greater innovation, even in a distributed environment.

All that remains is to see what a permanent remote future will look like for tech employees – what challenges will they face and how might they overcome them?

1. Company Culture.

One of the biggest concerns for bosses and staff alike is that remote work will mean the end of office culture forever. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, wants his employees back in the office because remote work just “doesn’t work for culture” – and 62% of tech workers who don’t want to work from home now restrictions have been lifted seem to agree.

But we say there are ways to keep the team spirit going, even at a distance! For example, you can still organize social events when you work remotely, either on Zoom or in person. But the most important thing when it comes to creating a positive work environment is not going to happy hour with your co-workers. It’s the values you share and the relationships you’ve built.

Working remotely, it’s become even clearer how important it is to trust your teams. Leaders need to know their remote employees are capable of working to the same high standard with less face to face interaction and direct management. On the other hand, you, as an employee, need to trust that your managers and the whole organization can provide you with the support you need whether you’re in the office or WFH.
All that remains is to see what a permanent remote future will look like for tech employees – what challenges will they face and how might they overcome them?

2. Finding a Balance.

86% of the tech workers who said they wanted to continue working from home cited work-life balance as the #1 reason why. Telecommuting gives employees more flexibility and control over their schedules. They can work in a way and at a time that suits them.

However, this does have its downsides. Working from home, the line between “work” and “home” can become blurred, leading to you working too many hours. In order to avoid fatigue and burnout, it’s important for you to set boundaries for yourself and stick to a realistic schedule.

As remote work becomes more the norm in the tech sphere, we hope to see flexible working hours and longer weekends become the standard. Industry leaders have been discussing flexitime and the four-day work week for some time and going remote for good might be all it takes to turn talk into action!

At Stakha, we believe that remote is the future of work, full stop. But we also recognize the importance of having a dedicated office space at home. Discover our top tips for How to Create the Ideal Work from Home Set Up.

3. Remote Training.

Virtual training programs will allow tech bosses to onboard new hires from a distance and offer opportunities for professional development and progression to current employees. New technologies and communication tools are constantly being introduced, and remote bosses need to make sure they are keeping up, keeping in touch with remote workers. Are your current workflows designed for remote work?

Recruitment specialists predict that the shift towards remote-first working will create more startups as businesses in every sector will be looking for new software solutions, not just for training and onboarding but for all aspects of running a remote business.

The future is now with Stakha

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