A Hybrid Start-Up: Navigating How to Build One Effectively

“In today's world, you have to be remote first. So for us, we're looking at where we can find the best candidates. The majority of our new hires end up being remote for roles that support it. We're looking for the best person for the job wherever they may be.” - Austin McChord, CEO

According to a recent survey, nearly half of workers with remote capable jobs report working in a hybrid environment, while another 39% are now entirely remote. For the majority of workers, when given the choice between in-person and hybrid, the decision is easy. What’s not so easy is building an effective business model to support this flexibility

Second-Class Citizens of The Past

Before the pandemic normalized remote and hybrid work, employees and contractors who were unable to, or preferred not to work in person, often faced challenges their in-office coworkers rarely had to navigate. Many virtual workers felt relegated to second-class status in organizations where in-person employees were prioritized. Treating the challenges of the past as lessons learned provided companies, with pre-existing remote infrastructure, a head start when implementing and maintaining wide-scale hybrid teams.

The Hybrid Focus of The Present

Jump to the present, nearly 60% of workers with remote capable jobs prefer working in a hybrid environment while an additional 32% would choose to be fully remote, according to a survey by Gallup. So what have we learned from years of remote work and how have we adapted to our current circumstances?

Challenges we Observed when Implementing a Hybrid Model

  • Messages: When do you message your coworker? Which tool do you use to message your coworker? How do you determine the urgency of an outgoing/incoming message?

  • Virtual Meetings: How do you read body language over zoom? How do you avoid multitasking during a meeting? How do you encourage cross-talk over a video?

  • Work / Life Balance: Where do you draw the line between work and non-work time? When do you sign off? How do you resist the urge to contact coworkers at your own convenience?

Casana focuses on establishing clear expectations that encourage our employees to maintain a good work-life balance, engage with one another personally, and teach new shared norms for tools that enable a hybrid workforce. Respecting off-hours, as well as time zone differences for example, encourages employees to differentiate between their personal and work lives in order to avoid burnout.

Casana Outing Front Building

Flexible In-Office Expectations

Casana has two offices. Our first office, referred to as the Metro Office, is located in Rochester, New York, and is where the Heart Seat is made. Our second office is in Boston, Massachusetts, and is our Commercial Hub. Casana has adapted the in-office expectations based on the specific needs of each office. For example, the clinical studies work, R&D, and manufacturing functions in Rochester require hands-on work time and thus employees in those roles are expected to be in the office 3-5 days each week. The Operations functions based in Boston are expected to be in person 2 days each week in order to encourage collaborative worktimes. The key is flexibility and working with people’s needs based on their situation, preferences, and the function of their work.

Casana at Bill Gray's Iceplex

Engaging Remote Employees

30% of Casana’s employees are remote. However, Casana prioritizes company-wide opportunities for remote employees to build rapport and strengthen the culture of the organization in the following ways:

  • Once a month our leadership team hosts a virtual company-wide meeting to announce updates, make requests of the team, and answer any anonymous questions people might have.

  • Casana instituted a “Lunch Wheel”; a monthly lottery employees opt into where a group of lucky individuals get to have lunch with their coworkers on Casana’s dime!

  • Casana hosts events such as a company-wide in-person gathering two to three times a year, as well as an annual hybrid Halloween party (which is designed to be both remote and in-person friendly), which allows employees to interact with team members outside of the office environment.

Casana Bowling 2021

A Lasting Change for The Future

Like many organizations, Casana is fully equipped to support hybrid and remote work into the future. Although having the option to work together co-located is still a priority for Casana, companies and prospective employees alike are now more confident when looking for positions outside of their geographical location. This confidence has made employee recruitment more lucrative in turn. The excitement of workplace flexibility is unlikely to fade, while in-office work still proves to have tremendous value.

Higher productivity and the ability to work closely with coworkers are listed as two of the main reasons why individuals still prefer to be in-office at least part of the time. A balance between the need, want, and ability to be in person is slowly developing within teams globally, and Casana is no exception.

Interested in joining the team? We’re hiring!

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