Valley Tech Firms Embrace WFH As Long-term Change

a laptop and an open journal on a white table

We started 2020 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—charting growth plans, ramping up hiring, and building out KPI lists that probably look completely different today. While 2020 showed up differently than anticipated, enough time has passed for companies to look back on what went right and what opportunities lie ahead. 

Y Scouts spoke to a number of SaaS executives in Arizona and here’s what we learned.

Technology Solution Upgrades Set the Pace

Companies that invested in new tech and cloud-based technology before the pandemic transitioned quickly to a work from home (WFH) environment for everyone. 

“Companies that had the ability to transition quickly as a result of existing cloud infrastructure did not experience many technical challenges, but from a human factor point of view, it will take continued creativity to manage relationships virtually. I think there will be positive outcomes for companies that are forward-thinking and build a win-win environment where everyone can be successful together.” — Lonny Sternberg, Senior Operations Executive

Flexibility Takes Center Stage

Prior to the pandemic, informal WFH policies were the norm. Organizations utilized WFH on an ad-hoc basis or for select teams and often required management approval.

With a larger section of the workforce at home and soaring productivity, the WFH stigma is quickly dissipating. WFH looks less like a risky gamble where leadership fears losing control and more like a necessity for employees to manage the competing demands of work and life. 

“It was like a flip of the switch from one day when we went remote. I think the mindset changed that this is the new normal and productivity remains high, and I attribute that to the flexibility of work from home.”Kai Roemmelt, Versidi (formerly HotChalk Inc.)

Flexibility for employees ties into flexibility for the business. Companies are cutting expenses, shrinking office footprints, and retooling benefits to support remote workers. 

Thinking strategically about space utilization led Y Scouts’ transformation to a remote-first company with an 80% reduction in office space. The downsize allows every corner of space to serve a purpose rather than simply exist as an expense.

Communication as Key to Overcoming New Challenges

The increase in flexibility hasn’t alleviated employee stress. Companies are worried about employee burnout and communication is the tool to move the teams together through additional, imminent change. 

“Managing communication, you have to be a lot more intentional while virtual. Zoom fatigue and excessive screen time have been a challenge. We use a pulse platform called Disco. It is a place where people can give direct shoutouts to team members, share stories, and once a week a pulse question to gauge employee satisfaction. The WFH “honeymoon stage” is over. People became a strong focus over the last few months. We’ve involved a lot more family activities, emotional care, mental health talks, no meetings on election day, and more… Making sure to lessen the emotional burden COVID brought and giving outlets and quality time to our employees is key.” — Petrina Thompson, Head of Client Services, Brightside

“I’m concerned about the burn out; people are working more, they feel like they need to be in front of their computers all the time. It’s going to be really important to mentally recharge and take the 3 day weekend. I encourage people to get things done and take days off when they need to.” — Bill Pierznik, COO, Act-On Software

An omnichannel communication strategy keeps leadership connected to employees, individuals connected to each other, and cross-functional collaboration possible.

“Water cooler conversations are no longer taking place. Things that you thought were no big deal, were a huge deal. When people can’t communicate in person in the hallway, it seems like the ability to communicate is twice as hard outside of just emails and phone. As leaders of a company, we have to make sure we are conveying energy and enthusiasm and what’s the right cadence… is that every month, every quarter?” — Jerry Scott, VP of Operations, GPS Insight

Rest, Recharge, and Rebound   

As we prepare for the approaching holiday wind-down, prioritize rest. It’s hard to be creative, let alone care for yourself or the team when running on E. 

The days ahead hold opportunities for bold thinking, new solutions, and fresh relationships between companies, customers, and people.