Home » What’s Next for the Office? A Conversation on the Future of Hybrid Work
What’s Next for the Office? A Conversation on the Future of Hybrid Work
August 16, 2021
On August 12th, OfficeTogether gathered leaders from Figma, Snyk, and Spokn to talk about one of the hottest dinner table topics — the office. Our conversation confirmed that everyone is committed to doing what is best for employees as well as the company, which is resulting in a wide range of office policies: Spokn on the extreme of fully remote, Snyk as “remote first”, and Figma with a fixed 2 days per week office schedule.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the webinar, I’ve shared the recording as well as highlights from each speaker below.
Timadge was hired at Figma one week before California’s initial COVID shutdown occurred. She had only a handful of days in the SF office before transitioning to working fully remote. And yet, Timadge has spent the last year and a half working with Figma CEO Dylan Field on what the employee experience will look like, both during and post-COVID.
Figma, a $10B design collaboration software platform, cares deeply about in-person connection, and everyone, even folks in SF, has the option of being fully remote or hybrid remote. If you elect hybrid, then you’ll be assigned a desk and expected to come into the office on a 2 set days per week schedule, in the brand new office they just opened in August. Figma anticipates a broader office re-opening in October 2021 but stresses that no manager can require their team to come to the office.
Beyond scheduling, the team is also rethinking the office layout. Timadge will be pioneering a U-shaped bullpen, where desks are in a semi-circle around a large central table so folks can turn around from the monitor and gather easily around the table.
Beyond the physical office, Timadge and the team have worked on multiple initiatives to keep the company’s culture alive. For instance, they took their maker week (otherwise known as a hackathon or build week) fully remote this year and said it was an even more inclusive and fun experience than previous years. Given this year’s success, the team is planning to host future maker weeks remote as well. They also have company-wide newsletters and podcasts, with the goal of keeping the medium of digestion equally enjoyable for remote versus in-office folks. Also, check out their “Figma in Quarantine: The Musical“!
Dipti, an outspoken NYC-based HR leader at Snyk, helped scale the internal team as the company went from Series B to Series E. It’s been easy for Dipti to champion the remote experience since New York is one of the smaller offices. She has been working in a distributed/hybrid model for the bulk of her time with the company. Snyk, a developer security company, is taking a more remote-first approach than Figma, with no fixed office days. They have large offices in Boston, the UK, and Israel, but office attendance will be totally optional.
Snyk employees can choose from three categories: Remote, hybrid, or in-office. Prior to the pandemic, the company was 30% remote. It’s now 70% remote with hiring exploding globally. The only exception is that new grads must come in 2-days per week for their first year, to encourage osmosis of work habits. Also, compensation within the same country is normalized, so an employee in Idaho will be paid the same as someone performing the same role in New York.
Snyk re-opened their offices in June, and Dipti has been surprised to hear that employees now find leadership less accessible than when everyone was fully remote. Before, leaders were a Slack message away, but when folks are partially in-person, some employees have given Dipti the feedback that execs are perceived as “too busy to chat,” — something she is digging into!
One interesting aspect of Snyk’s people culture was that when the company was founded, every team had to be equally divided between the UK and Israel. Company leadership wanted to create intentionality around remote inclusion, so if an engineering team had one person in the UK, the second person had to be in Israel. Also of note, they rotate between three time zones for the company all-hands, to be friendly to the US, APAC, and Europe respectively. Snyk has a lot to say about remote and hybrid. Check out Hybrid as an amplifier, a doc that Dipti and the team wrote!
Offering a different perspective on the hybrid-remote spectrum, we had Mariel Davis, cofounder of Spokn (a fully remote company). Mariel is based in New York, with a team straddling the US and Egypt. Their company offers a podcasting platform for internal communications. Spokn allows you to record messages and training in your voice, to listen to async.
Mariel made an interesting point about podcasting as an asynchronous communication tool: Unlike a pre-recorded meeting or memo, a podcast can be listened to and experienced in the same way, in the same context, for each listener. There’s no “missing out” or “you had to be there” moment, so it creates an equitable experience for all employees, regardless of their remote or in-office status.
Time zones continue to be one of the trickiest parts of running a global workforce. Mariel’s team leans heavily on Slack, voice messages, and written communication to close the 6 – 9 hours of time difference. Having a global team helps Spokn keep costs down while also inspiring creativity and intentionality around how they work.
OfficeTogether is a hybrid company, with a single office in NY. We care very much about in-person collaboration and have prioritized company offsites across the world, including Panama and the Catskills of New York. At this point, we also bias toward hiring folks in New York when possible so we can hit critical mass for having a lively office culture. We do this with the explicit understanding that leadership is not centralized in New York. The CEO, the Head of Biz Ops, and the Creative Director are based in SF. We have folks in Portugal, Romania, Florida, and Texas. It’s personally important for me as the CEO that I do not live at the “HQ” to send a strong message to the company that you do not have to be in-person to be successful at OfficeTogether. At the same time, we do require more junior folks to be in the office, because it reduces strain on our senior folks from a mentorship perspective.
Some tools we lean heavily into — Slack, Loom, Slack Connect (makes it so easy to talk to customers instantly), Gather Town, Google Docs, and Notion.
Amy YinWhat’s Next for the Office? A Conversation on the Future of Hybrid Work
Increasing employee productivity makes a huge difference to company performance, and drives competitive advantage. Over the years, organizations have introduced different initiatives, technologies, processes and even transformation programs to move the needle on productivity, with varying degrees of success. According to consultants at Bain & Company, the top 25% of companies, who manage employees’ time