Photo: Ashlee Hamon
Working in a Post-COVID World
Executives at six winning companies talk about how COVID has changed their workplaces.
No. 4 Small | Insurance/Non-Health Care | St. Petersburg
Rethinking its Office Needs
As a software development company, Squaremouth is comfortable in the virtual world.
Before the pandemic, the company’s Indiana office was already working a hybrid schedule — in the office some days and working remotely other days. The company’s call center went completely remote in 2018. “We already had the pieces in place to go to a remote work environment,” says Megan Moncrief, chief marketing officer.
Events over the past year and a half have forced the company even further down that path.
Before the pandemic, the organization purchased a former church with 23,000 square feet of space. The intention was to convert it into a cool office space, Silicon Valley-style.
“We had ideas for a spa, a treehouse, a gym — tons of quirky things,” Moncrief says.
Now Squaremouth is selling the property.
The company has decided working remotely is a good fit and won’t renew its lease on its St. Petersburg office when it expires in December. “I don’t think we’ll ever go back to a 100% in-office environment,” she says.
The company uses digital collaboration tools, such as Slack, Google Meet and Zoom, to stay connected on a day-to-day basis. After December, when face-to-face meetings and get-to-gethers are required, they plan to look for a smaller office or use co-working spaces.
“We really just don’t need space 24/7.”
No. 2 Midsized | Health Care Insurance/Services | Palm Beach Gardens
Reopening in Stages
COO Kate Grangard says the Gehring Group is “built on relationships inside and outside the office,” so having face-to-face time is important. As the world starts opening back up, the company has settled on a staged approach to reopening its offices. In June, the Gehring Group started having mandatory meetings and get-to-gethers at the office. The company plans to return to the office full time after Labor Day.
Reopening Plans: “We had a return-to-work committee that really helped develop policy. There were about 20 people on the committee, and anyone in our organization could volunteer to serve on it.”
Timeline: “We wanted to allow people with children time to make arrangements for child care and get back into a routine.”
Changes as a Result of COVID: “We have made Friday a standard telecommute day through December. We now have equipment in all our employees’ homes, so people who did not get to telecommute in the past will have that opportunity. Moving to a hybrid world is something that might be extended. We’ll see how it goes.”
Biggest Adjustments for Employees: “During COVID, we moved into a new office if you can imagine. It is like you go away to college and when you come back, your parents have sold your home. We hope our interim mandatory meetings will help employees get acclimated to the new space before returning full time.”
Possibility of Full-Time Remote Work: “We are very clear in our identity. We are not a remote company. We’re in the hallways; we’re bantering off of each other. Sometimes, you just have to be in the room.”
No. 8 Large | Technology | Clearwater
Since KnowBe4 has offices internationally, it started hearing about border closings due to COVID-19 early. It began sending employees home sooner than most companies in the U.S.
“We made the decision, and 48 hours later, everybody was working from home,” says Erika Lance, senior vice president of people operations.
Throughout the pandemic, some employees have requested to return to the office with safety precautions in place like social distancing, mask requirements, temperature checks and on-site testing.
Most employees, however, have grown accustomed to working from home and like it. Going forward, KnowBe4 will offer the option of remote work when job duties allow it, and employees will be able to choose whether they work entirely remotely or whether they work in the office some days and at home other days.
Challenges to Flexible Work Locations: “Making sure your managers are trained on how to manage a remote team. It is important to stay in contact with your employees, so they continue to grow. What you don’t want is an ‘out of sight out of mind’ thing.”
Percentage of Employees Working Remotely: “I think we are going to see about 50% work from home and about 45% doing some version of hybrid. About 5% will be in the office.”
Permanent Changes? “Things change, and you have to be willing to pivot. I can tell you what the next couple of months is going to look like, but from there, we are just going to keep looking at it.”