Like most organizations across the world, our entire business infrastructure was upended overnight in March of 2020. With teams spread out across the country, we sent everyone home in the name of safety and equipped them to work from home within 48 hours. While 2020 was full of many challenges for our organization, we learned a lot about our team and how we work well together.
Though there was a steep learning curve for all teams at Paradigm, we’ve since come to embrace our remote environment — in fact it’s worked out so well that Paradigm has just been officially designated as a Great Place to Work! This recognition is important to us as it comes directly from our colleagues, with 94% of them stating that we are indeed, a great place to work!
So here we are, after an entire year of constantly testing, learning, and growing as an organization, we’ve come to the conclusion that Paradigm will remain a remote-hybrid company, indefinitely.
After polling our organization and thinking carefully about what’s happened the past year, and where we want to be in the future, we came to the conclusion that a remote-hybrid model was the right fit for us. Paradigm staff have the ability to work from home, or if they are located near one of our four hubs, may choose to work in the office once local guidelines allow them to. This decision took many factors into consideration, and I think it’s important to highlight them.
As Paradigm’s Chief of Staff, it is my goal to help ensure that everyone is in sync, has the tools necessary to complete their jobs, and are all working towards a common goal. Sure, this was nearly impossible to navigate in March of 2020, but by all accounts, Paradigm has prospered in a remote world thanks to technology, an amazing, dedicated staff, and a ton of flexibility. Here are a few things we’ve learned over the past year that ultimately helped us make the decision to continue working in a remote capacity.
Paradigm is more connected than ever, even though we’re physically apart
Running an organization with four separate products, each with its own offices in different corners of the United States was by no means an easy task in the past. Each office had its own culture, its own way of conducting meetings, and its own way of communicating. Four offices instantly morphed into one remote office, and what we found after a few months of working entirely online was that our dispersed products and teams actually became more enmeshed.
We worked hard to cultivate this by implementing a standard cadence of meetings, including professional meetings, and more relaxed gatherings to give everyone a chance to hang out. We adapted our annual in-person team-building event, called Renewal, into quarterly half-day sessions and built on this further with new, virtual professional development workshops. During Renewal, we use this time to ensure that each and every team member is aligned on company goals and metrics. We encourage everyone not to think about their daily tasks on this day, but on the business, and their team and individual goals.
As a way to stay emotionally connected to each other, we implemented weekly town hall meetings. These weekly town hall’s have been, and continue to be, a fantastic way for colleagues to learn high-level news around Paradigm’s suite of products, but also gives them a chance to connect with each other over a fun game or two. These meetings provide a venue for everyone to unwind and learn more about each other. As part of the Great Place to Work survey, 97% of our colleagues said that they could be themselves around here, and the unique memories that are cultivated at these gatherings certainly prove that.
To connect one-on-one, colleagues also have the option of setting up virtual donut meetings through Slack. Donut is an automated Slack plugin that helps arrange meetings between two individuals who have not met recently. Donut meetings have allowed staff to meet each other regardless of product, position, or location in the country — something that was tough to do just a year ago. These have been a huge hit, and a major driver in employee engagement, which is at an all-time high.
“Paradigm has done such an amazing job at continuing to bring everyone together, reducing the siloed feeling, and keeping everyone off of an island.” – Paradigm employee
Employee engagement and new hires increased during remote work
An additional benefit of working remotely has been that we can hire talented people regardless of their location. Paradigm has gone through a tremendous growth period, hiring 28 new staff across products since March, representing 32% of our current team! Alongside that growth, we’ve been able to measure actual growth in employee engagement. Each quarter we survey our team on a variety of metrics, our main performance indicator being our Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). An eNPS is a metric used by companies to gauge employee satisfaction with their overall employment experience. In Q1 of 2021 we reached an eNPS of +50, when the average eNPS globally is only 14.
I believe that this satisfaction growth is influenced by a few things:
- Going virtual allowed us to break down long standing office based siloes and fill communication gaps, leveling the playing field for all. Going virtual was a forcing function for us to re-evaluate the way we communicate at a Paradigm-wide level. We increased our cadence of communication and went levels deeper in transparency to further break down those siloes.
- We introduced a new, thorough performance review process that focused on individual growth and consistent feedback delivery.
- We realize the importance of work life balance, and encourage everyone to take time when they can. 96% of employees surveyed by Great Place to Work noted that they are able to take time off from work when they think it’s necessary
- Probably the #1 reason — we showed we cared for our people above all else. We weren’t willing to even consider having colleagues go back to an office before staff felt comfortable. This built massive amounts of trust and paved the way for these other initiatives to have more impact than they might have before.
“This company truly cares about its employees and that shows it in everything it does. It’s definitely one of the best companies I’ve worked for.” – Paradigm employee
What does the future hold for Paradigm?
Just as we never stop working on improving our products, we can never stop improving our organization. In the coming months, we are excited to implement a brand new mentorship program, allowing employees to choose a mentor regardless of product or location. Additionally, we are in the process of designing new career path frameworks which will allow colleagues to more easily map out a career progression within Paradigm. And last but not least, we hope to gather as one team for an in-person renewal as soon as it is safe to do so.
The future of remote work at Paradigm is bright. Remote work has broken down our siloes, helped improve work life balance for staff, and continues to bring in top talent. We’re going to continue to fill our open positions with the best of the best from around the country, and we can’t wait to bring them aboard. With a whole lot of determination, we’ve proven that remote work is possible, and in Paradigm’s case, has actually helped us reach our goals faster.
“I am very impressed about the company’s people-oriented culture. I think the company value our employees and willing to invest in our employees and help them grow and this is great.” – Paradigm employee