Here’s What Austin Leaders Have Learned Since Transitioning to a Remote Work Environment
BY TAYLOR KARG
Last year, approximately 54 percent of U.S. workers worked from home at least once a month and 48 percent at least once a week, according to a survey conducted by Owl Labs.
However, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the number of U.S. workers currently working from home full time has increased to almost 70 percent.
The number of U.S. workers permanently working from home is expected to increase even more as leaders continue to realize the benefits of a remote workforce. For example, Shipwell CEO and Co-Founder Greg Price said that before the pandemic began, he didn’t think a remote work environment would be beneficial to the work and culture of a fast-paced logistics company. However, since making the transition to fully remote, the company and employees are thriving — so much so that Shipwell is now a remote-forward company.
Shipwell isn’t the only company whose notions of remote work have changed. Built In Austin caught up with three more leaders across the city to learn what preconceived notions they had about remote work and how their opinions have changed since making the transition.
AZ Moyer HEAD OF FINANCE AND OPERATIONS
Proof is a marketing technology and software company that helps brands increase conversions through personal interactions. AZ Moyer, head of finance and operations, said that employees at Proof use Zoom and Slack to stay connected while working remotely and even play fun games like Drawful and Water Cooler Trivia.
What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?
Prior to COVID-19, we hardly considered remote work. We thought it was exciting and could potentially attract new talent, but as a startup, we wanted everyone in our new downtown Austin office. That way, we could collaborate better and develop friendships with each other while we were building our new company culture. A preconceived notion we had was that if we go remote, then we’d lack a solid company culture and miss out on becoming good friends with each other.
Initially, we thought the WFH life would only be temporary and last a month, max. Once reports started coming out, showing the global pandemic that we were now a part of, we knew we’d be remote for the foreseeable future with no plans of returning to the office.
Being a software company, we were already set up quite nicely for remote work — we already used Zoom and Slack, so our daily meetings could be switched online easily and we only enhanced our Slack skills (primarily in developing emojis of each other’s faces). But still, it was going to be a wild shift and one we did not want for our company.
Something I learned this year is that you have to be intentional as a company to retain good people and the culture.”
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?
My opinion has shifted incredibly since the start of fully remote work. Now, our team can work wherever they want, as long as they are getting their work done and are on our daily syncs. So many fun ways to collaborate or bond with coworkers came out of COVID-19. Games like Drawful, Water Cooler Trivia and even online poker replaced some of our all-hands meetings and were our way to stay connected while we were apart.
Something I learned this year is that you have to be intentional as a company to retain good people and the culture. This means, first and foremost, to relate and understand that everyone is going through a lot right now. Work is important, but first we must take care of ourselves before we can perform our job well. Commit to reaching out to coworkers to check on them personally. Be there for one another during the crisis we are in and the unknowns that lay in front of us. I’ve seen that remote work can be done successfully and you can still maintain a good company culture, but you have to be intentional with what you do as a company.
The future of Proof will likely be remote. We’d love to stay as close as we can to continue becoming good friends, but we know where the world is going and that’s remote. We’ve learned valuable lessons this year on how to do that well and will continue iterating until we find what works best for us.
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