Essaid stated that he believed strongly in the benefits of working in an office with his two previous companies. However, he knew immediately it was not an option when he started his financial modeling startup.
It changed my outlook from the beginning. He said that it allowed him to hire people he wouldn’t normally have hired because they were located in Utah, or some other place where we don’t have offices. Finmark, which is now remote-only, has 33 employees in the United States, England, and Pakistan.
This pandemic is transforming how corporate America works, especially the large tech firms that took the initiative to close down their offices and send employees home. It’s also changing smaller, younger businesses, which are aspiring to become tech titans of their own, and potentially changing how they innovate and grow. This could have implications for the entire industry.
The origin story of most iconic tech companies is the same: A couple of founders meet in their garage or dorm, work on an idea and hire people as it grows. They then move to larger offices that are more perk-filled, and eventually expand into other cities and countries.
The pandemic is changing this picture. Numerous surveys, such as those done by Gallup and TINYPulse, have shown that tech workers tend to avoid the workplace more than other employees.
Finmark is a new startup that has decided to move away from its office. This can open up new possibilities, such as reducing real estate expenses and increasing the number of places from which Finmark can hire. However, depending on how remote they are working remotely, having a distributed workforce can complicate the process of creating products and establishing a culture. There are no more team hackathons and all-night programming sessions. Instead, there will be Zoom calls and Slack group.
Alexander Kvamme CEO, Pathlight employee management software company said, “The more you are in the company the more you have to be creative, and the more you can solve problems,” There is no alternative to having people together in a room where they can discuss problems.
Startups face additional challenges as the pandemic continues. Although Google (GOOGL), Facebook, Uber (UBER), and Apple (AAPL), have all invested large in sprawling campuses, it is also possible to switch between in-person and remote work as required. Startups, however, might have to make a decision about whether to spend their smaller budgets on expensive office leasing.
Elora Voyles (TINYPulse’s people scientist) stated that startups face a difficult task because of the fact that they compete against larger organizations with more flexible policies.
Some startup founders claim they have an edge because big corporations are experimenting with and sometimes backtracking on office return policies. These startups are able to create new policies and culture in a way that is different from their bigger peers who have decades of history and physical space.
Without an office, building a new culture in the office
Near Space Labs was founded by Rema Matevosyan in 2017. However, it wasn’t until last years that it began to roll out its core product, the weather balloons specially equipped for aerial photography.
Like other tech companies during pandemics, physical hardware was built and shipped. This added an additional hurdle to which software companies didn’t have to deal with.
She stated that “Before pandemics, it was assumed you could have engineers who would develop hardware and fly to and provide support.” That’s one example where it was necessary to do everything remotely. We have an essentially standardized solution today that comes in a box and includes a couple of training videos.
During the pandemic, the company grew to 17 workers (including six part time employees). The company still has its headquarters in New York, but it now has flexible working arrangements that allow employees to work from home. However, they can also be seen at the office when required.
However, she admits it can be difficult to establish a culture in remote working environments. Matevosyan established a number of videoconference routines in an effort to unite the company, such as a daily team meeting to discuss their work and specific meetings to have “water cooler banter”, and one-on-one catchups with each employee.
She said, “It needs to be more deliberate, especially when teams are dispersed.” These are the areas that I am a little worried about, and [am] actively working on.”
Essaid took a different approach in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Because of the difficulties of only having a small number of people in his office, Essaid decided to have no office.
He stated, “I realized that it was impossible to build democracy among all employees, or make everyone equal unless everybody is in the same office, or remote.”
Start up and do things differently
This is not only about founders and companies. Startup investors may be reevaluating their old views about how to create new products.
Siri Srinivas (a principal of venture capital firm Draper Associates) said, “Product Building, Sales, These are All Very Collaborative Activities.” It was a bit worrying if a startup told us that their products were not distributed. They should work together or in one location.
All that changed was due to the fact Draper, an investor in Finmark as well as Near Space Labs, having to change its office-centric culture.
Srinivas stated that “we were made to work together without having to be in the office, and we had to do many things without being there.” We realized that we could work effectively and complete 85% of our work remotely.
However, not everyone agrees with everything.
Kvamme was Pathlight’s CEO. He remained completely isolated during the pandemic, just like many other founders. Although it was an enormous shift, he said that the remote work was essential to support growth and ensure great talent.
Pathlight, which employs 50% of Silicon Valley’s workforce, is looking to return to its office. Kvamme stated that remote work is still an option for people who desire it. He is concerned that remote work will not be sustainable for startup like his.
He stated that he believes there is a good chance we will be working three days per week at the office in 2013, four days next year, and then we will return to normal within two years.”
Publited Fri, 13 August 2021 at 14:27.04 +0000