Remote working featured heavily at this year’s Dublin Tech Summit, with much of the agenda dominated by the challenges and benefits associated with its transformative effect on work dynamics.
On day one of the RDS-hosted event, David O’Reilly, Senior Sales Director at Globalization Partners, referred to the escalation in remote work as “one of the most profound social shifts of all time.”
O’Reilly said G-P’s technology was able to harness the capability of remote work to achieve what he called “the democratization of opportunity.” This shift toward global remote workforces has given companies access to the best talent, while candidates have access to more employment options, in turn elevating local economies around the world. But, he added, there are also indirect benefits to society at large.
“It promotes lower cost of living and higher quality of living. As many city-dwellers vacate to the suburbs, cities become less congested. At the same time, skipping two hours of commute time each way every day means more time with families. That’s a wonderful outcome for society. And in terms of climate impact, one of the perks of working from home is that it entirely does away with commutes,” concluded O’Reilly.
On day two of the event, Sanj Bhayro, Head of Sales at business communications specialists Intercom, spoke about his company’s enlightened approach to recruitment and the challenge of retaining company values when advancing from startup status to mature business.
“Arguably, the biggest challenge as you grow in scale will always come back to talent. You need to attract and retain the right talent to get you to the next level while making sure the culture of the company and what made it grow in the first place continues to exist,” said Bhayro.
Getting it right from the start
Bhayro believes placing emphasis on culture, diversity, growth, and development from the start can reward all parties in the long term.
“It’s always challenging to attract the right people, but it’s exacerbated now, especially as people tend to spend less time at a company, there is a higher propensity to move, and loyalty is not as prevalent. Companies should ask themselves, ‘Why would they want to stay with me?’ Answering that puts the focus on entrepreneurship, management and development programmes, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Intercom sees a considerable upside to exporting talent it has invested so much in developing. Referring to it as a “virtuous circle,” Bhayro says that the innovative culture at Intercom benefits when employees go on to succeed elsewhere. There is even a social media group, independent of the company, called Outercom, where former employees get together.
“You start with assuming the talent will grow and go on to do different things, something better and greater, creating more meaning and purpose,” Bhayro added.
Great talent attracts great talent
Bhayro has seen Intercom nurture employees with no obvious entrepreneurial background — engaging their interest, challenging them through side projects and starter programmes helps develop leadership qualities, even if some talent goes on to thrive elsewhere.
“Great talent attracts great talent. Have the mindset that they will develop your business and can later be future advocates. If you are aligned with these future leaders, it’s a good basis for success.”
He acknowledged how difficult it is to get the diversity and inclusion aspect right when, for so many industries, the natural tendency is to hire who you know.
“A microculture can be built very quickly and have a long-term impact that is hard to undo. You must be intentional from day one to build a diverse and inclusive environment. It can be built organically right across the business, but unless there is accountability throughout the organization, you will find that it’s typically diverse for entry roles but less so on the way up,” said Bhayro.
Brian Walker, Senior Vice President of Engineering at DraftKings, and Jeremy King, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Pinterest, addressed similar topics during a discussion entitled, “Scaling Your Engineering Organization in a Post-Pandemic World.”
Walker explained the value of creating a local sense of ownership when companies expand internationally. DraftKings encouraged the company’s European HQ in Dublin to take the lead in hiring in the region and run “perfectly autonomously with limited oversight from corporate.”
A big challenge post-pandemic has been cultivating remote hiring practices and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
“We’re still figuring it out and adapting dynamically. We have used LinkedIn to grow our remote hiring, but we recognize the need to have an in-person presence, so we are pivoting towards a hybrid approach,” Walker said. “We try to maintain a level of flexibility that works best for the individual but also mindful of the group.”
Purpose-driven collaborations in the office
Jeremy King said rather than using in-office days for ad-hoc get-togethers, Pinterest dedicates those days to in-house collaboration.
“Our teams meet once or twice a month for hardcore collaboration. Our app is complex and reaches so many people; the camaraderie, team building, and productivity that comes from those collaborations is essential. Pinterest is all about getting the community to help each other. Everyone has different situations, so we want the flexibility but want teams to stay tight together,” explained King.
King added that investment in technical writing, video, social engagement, remote buddies for team enablement, training, and workshops play a huge part in onboarding new employees.
In terms of diversity and inclusion, King said half of Pinterest’s users are women, and he saw no reason why this shouldn’t be reflected in the level of female graduates taken on by the company.
The challenges of engagement and retention
Stephen Crowley, CFO at Flipdish, echoed the need to keep employees connected and engaged.
“We focus clearly on transparency, honesty, and integrity and live by that. We use all-hands and other meetings each week and share everything, whether a product release or a financial status report. We also have various social and global events. It gives people a greater sense of belonging, and in a remote environment, it’s doubly important to retain a sense of connectivity.”
Flipdish relies on surveys to monitor employee engagement and contentment, adjusting and improving accordingly. Offering small perks like making every second Friday a mandated half day certainly helps.
Cato Syversen, CEO of Creditsafe, later spoke about struggling to recruit post-pandemic. Since embracing flexibility, Syversen said the company has bounced back, with engagement now at 73 percent.
“The easiest way to get rid of an employee is to tell them to go back to the office. We’ve taken the middle ground in opting to provide more hybrid roles. We had to look at alternative ways of interacting, through employee engagement platforms and even an internal radio station to turn it around and revive that old cultural loyalty.”
As the pandemic has affected every aspect of the current business world, leaders must know that there is no turning back to traditional ways of working. Flexibility in the workplace is the new normal — and the benchmark for companies to attract and retain top talent. For more information on hiring global talent, contact Globalization Partners, and discover how the #1 Global Growth Platform™ can help your company succeed faster.