Rating The Remote Work Policies of Globally Distributed Companies
The news is abuzz with each billon/trillion dollar companies’ hot take on a managers will control their team’s future.. Amazon just last week announced that
PWC will allow 40,000 of their employees to but they will be required at the office at least 3 times per month (Can they save an intense remotely culture with ?).
And Apple...well let’s just say they are still trying to figure out their rebelled against their 3-day in-office mandate. as their workers
Where do the most profitable businesses in the world stand on their as we enter 2022?
How do they compare with companies that have gone remote-first in the last year?
Their decisions will influence the remote working policies of thousands of companies and determine if they can attract the top talent from the great resignation.
Check out our ratings below!
What Is A?
A top-tier gives employees the choice of how, when, and where they .
A bad forces employees to follow a mandate from management.
They cannot live far from offices and must come in a certain amount of days each week. If they are fully or want to relocate, they face pay cuts or internal bias towards their performance.
The most important thing is that the company provides employees with infrastructure and processes to lead a flexible lifestyle.
We should also state the difference between a -first company and a .
Fully distributed companies like Gitlab or Automattic are -first, and they don’t have any central office culture.
Companies that were majority in-person before the pandemic have adopted a new to adapt to the changing needs of the economy and the desires of their employees.
One great example is the from anywhere of Blueground. They offer three flexible working models that embody freedom./
- from anywhere: employees can five days a week at one of their offices worldwide, be fully , or have a hybrid schedule.
- Short-long-term assignment: Employees can volunteer to in the three working styles in an for a short or long period.
- International transfer: Employees can permanently transfer to pursue a career at a different international at one of the company’s subsidiaries.
How do I measure the success of a ?
Your employees and their performance will tell you. If, after implementing a , they cannot still balance their personal and professional lives, then the failed.
If they have anxiety about coming to the office, that is also a failure.
If productivity increases, people seem more engaged while working, and people regularly comment about doing things they love, then it was a success.
Now, let’s dive into the ratings.
Cimpress Remote Work Policy (9/10)
What makes Cimpress's remote-first policy exceptional is that Cimpress is a traditional printing company that makes high-quality printed custom-made products.
You might wonder how a traditional manufacturing company arrived at this work policy, and in some ways, we might have the pandemic to thank.
The pandemic brought on a lot of uncertainties to the workplace. Cimpress was remote for 5 months, and there were some positive results, so they asked their employees how they felt. 79% of the Cimpress employees agreed that they are equally or more productive working remotely than in an office environment.
So, Cimpress implemented the policy at the beginning of August 2020, and the Cimpress teams won't be going back to the office even post-pandemic. Vista was named one of the "Best Remote-First Companies to Work For" in Built In's 2021 report.
Remote working has been one of the most significant challenges in the workplace since the Industrial Revolution. Over 150 years ago people had to adapt to a 9-5 schedule and work in dangerous factories.
Now, people work from their homes filled with distractions and need to adapt to flexible working arrangements and asynchronous work.
With this change to a remote work policy, Cimpress has met the challenge head-on, and they have seen 78% of their team members more likely to stay with the company. Over this past year, job applications for their roles have been up by 300%.
When creating their policy, Cimpress took all the right steps, like putting importance on input and feedback.
They give team members a weekly pulse survey and an extensive survey every six months to help the company understand how the policy has benefitted them and to optimize it.
He said the most notable factor was "(an) absolute executive sponsorship." A work culture where the executive listens and takes action, inspires trust and proactiveness.
88% of Cimpress/ Vista team members now say they would recommend their company to others looking for a role in their company.
Cimpress achieved such great feedback from their employees because they started in one of the most basic but essential processes in a business, communication.
Cimpress established rules and boundaries for communication in the company to avoid people getting burned out by answering emails at 10 pm.
They also documented each of their processes and created a handbook for remote working tips, onboarding remote workers.
Cimpress India recruited 854 new team members in FY21 across teams, and the onboarding was done completely remote.
Cimpress doesn't just provide tools for project management, virtual communication, or learning tools to be productive, but they also provide spaces for physical collaboration for their employees.
Cimpress has a collaborative space in different cities in the world, such as London, Shanghai, Prague, Berlin, Paris,, etc., for employees to work or meet and collaborate in-person to provide inclusivity and flexibility for all their team members.
The greatest thing about this company and why we rank them 9/10 on this list is their commitment to improving their remote work experience.
Paul told Growrk, "We are not fixated on who is returning to a physical office. Instead, we are fixated on questioning/auditing each tool, process, and workflow and pressure testing it: "Does this workflow work well in a remote or location-agnostic manner, and is it contributing to a great team member experience?" Epiphanies are continual."
X-Team Remote Work Policy (10/10)
At X-Team, they didn't implement a remote company policy to score cool points and boost employee retention amid the great resignation. It's their culture and lifestyle.
X-Team kicked off remote work in 2006 as Ryan Chartrand founded the company with a revolutionary remote-first mindset. He came up with the idea to provide companies with the best developer teams in the world, while providing developers with opportunities to work with great companies and on great projects while working from wherever they want.
In this last decade, this idea has helped the X-team grow exponentially, making it one of the biggest remote developer communities in the world.
X-Team provides developers from over 50 countries opportunities to succeed without controversial locality pay, distractions, and unnecessary meetings.
They started this 15 years ago without Slack, Asana, Zoom, Trello, or any other project management systems. They have made it work by being a lifestyle experience instead of an agency.
What makes us rate X-Team 10/10 is the remote work arrangement and all the opportunities they provide for their workers to pursue their own lives and hobbies outside their jobs. X-Team gives every new employee an Unleash budget, a $2,500 annual budget to spend on doing what they love.
This money can be spent on whatever they like, from traveling, raising a family, teaching programming, to learning a new skill.
To combat the loneliness of remote work, X-Team provides an X-Outpost where team members can convene in a hacker house to explore and work every month.
The X-Team has been to many beautiful countries such as the Philippines, Costa Rica, Argentina, Bali, Austria, South Africa, Japan, etc.
Instead of having boring slack forums like most companies do, every employee has a Slack journal that's publicly accessible to everyone. This helps for constant communication and allows the team members to demonstrate productivity.
Secondly, because every X-Teamer's journal has a few people invited to it, it would be easy for an employee to get support or advice when struggling with a project or any other task. This further cuts down on meetings and micromanagement.
Journaling also helps with documentation as every slack journal serves as a vast database of publicly available knowledge from which other team members can pull insights. Crazy enough, they even built an RPG game in their Company Slack to help increase employee engagement.
Another example of the sweet peculiarities the X-Team enjoys is the bounty system. These are challenges made by X-Team or by individual team members that follow themes of gaming, running, music, exploring, cooking, or reading.
Team members complete these challenges to win vault coins that can, in turn, be used to purchase collectibles in the Vault.
They also have a yearly event where employees compete with each other to win swag and raise money for charity. These yearly events are interactive community games that help with team building. Since the pandemic, all events are done remotely.
Some of X-Team's biggest events are the X-Summit, STARCON, and GameCon. They brought in an Astronomer, X-Teamers could ask questions, and also brought in a pianist for a trivia event where members of the teams were guessing sci-fi songs together and just having fun with science.
When GroWrk reached out to an X-team employee to inquire about his favorite part of being a part of such as fantastic team, he said, "There's so much to like about X-Team, but probably my favorite part is the flexibility that X-Team affords its programmers. You have a lot of freedom to create the lifestyle you want as a developer."
X-Team has also thrived not to micromanage their team by empowering their developers as much as possible. It has adopted the unconventional organizational hierarchy by keeping middle management to the barest.
X-team provides workers with authority to do their jobs with dexterity and proactiveness instead of delegating authority to managers who often lack context.
HubSpot Remote Work Policy (8/10)
At HubSpot, they believe that where you work makes no difference; what counts is the quality of the work you produce. Many HubSpotters have worked exclusively from home for years, with about 10% being remote employees even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hubspot saw the advantages of a more hybrid workforce as the pandemic progressed. After conducting internal polls and seeing the personnel data, they decided they needed to make remote work arrangements available for all their staff.
Hubspot has over 5500 employees and 11 offices in 9 countries scattered all over the world. Aside from the hundreds of HubSpotters who were already remote, their internal findings discovered that two-thirds of HubSpotters wanted to work remotely part-time, and roughly 16% of them were interested in switching to full-time remote work schedules.
When Hubspot discovered the majority of their employees sought flexible work arrangements, and prospective employees also tend to be interested in working from home, HubSpot decided that starting in January 2021, employees were allowed to have three work options.
They also have the opportunity to switch options once a year.
- The first option is to work three or more days a week at the HubSpot office, where they would have a desk for their laptop, monitor, family photos, plants, and anything else needed.
- The second option is the "flex option," where an employee can work remotely while using the HubSpot office two or fewer days per week. They will have a "hotel desk" they can rent whenever they use the office.
- The third option is to work from home the majority of the time. Work from home HubSpotters can visit the HubSpot office 1-2 times per quarter.
Regardless of which working option employees choose, Hubspot values documentation.
They created a knowledge database called RemoteSpot to serve as a resource hub for all things related to remote work at HubSpot. Employees are always provided access to tailored information, programming, and support.
Hubspot also understands how lonely remote work can be, so they created a thriving community of remote employees.
They have a space to share stories, provide support and advice in the #remote-brains-trust Slack room. The HR team hosts monthly virtual scavenger hunts and virtual water-cooler events.
At Hubspot, they believe values live in the hearts, not in the office, and they focus on building a culture for the future of work where perks, benefits, and a flexible schedule are remote inclusive.
Some perks include providing a work-from-home setup for remote workers, a four-week paid sabbatical, with the equivalent of $5000 after working for five years, tuition reimbursement where team members get $5000 annually, excellent healthcare coverage, etc.
We will rate Hubspot 8/10 for its remote work policy. The company continues to be a remote-first organization but all those working options might get difficult to manage.
It could be difficult to provide an equal experience for each employee and give them access to the same learning and development activities.
Back in June, the internet was abuzz with a letter leaked to the public from Apple employees. A several-page long document signed by 1,000 Apple workers expressing their displeasure over the announced by the Company. model
Obligatory Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday workweek at the office. All 149,000 employees would have to request workdays at a team manager's discretion.
The initial protest started in their advocacy slack channel that has over 6,000 members. Throughout the back and forth between those requesting and the company’s executives wanting to go back to the office, Apple took a hard-line approach.
They released an internal memo doubling down on their .
Some employees have already resigned, and many wonder what will happen once the company finally opens up its offices again in January 2022.
Is there a generational gap in the logic of Tim Cook and the board of Apple and those that have been reaping the benefits of working from home?
Of most surveys that report 40%-58% of workers willing to quit their job if their company doesn't allow a WFH option, the most substantial group of respondents are Millennials or Gen Z.
Much of it has to do with the old-world thinking of Steve Jobs that believed in serendipitous innovation.
Basically, the idea is that true innovation happens through spontaneous interactions between employees as they run into each other in the office.
Despite no evidence showing this is true, Apple is more of a hardware company than software, and their engineers do stand to benefit from in-person interactions.
At the same time, their coveted top-secret design plans could potentially be at more risk of being leaked to competitors with employees working from home.
Let's be real, though; Apple just spent 5 billion dollars on a space ship-shaped campus so that sunk cost must be a bit of a motivator.
Overall we have to give the a 4 out of 10 because it’s still Apple, the most valuable company in the world.
The ones protesting the represent a small portion of its workforce, and the prestige of working at Apple alone outweighs in-office mandates.
However, we are sure that teams will struggle with this hybrid setup, as many do when balancing communications and the commute.
This will eventually lead to more people being poached by companies that have more flexible -from-home policies.
Out of all the companies in this article, Google probably has the most hypocritical .
In May, CEO Sundar Pichai, under immense pressure from his employees and back to office postponements, announced they would implement a three days a week. that would require the majority of their workforce in the office
At the same time, 20% of their employees could remotely forever.
Strange that they wouldn’t offer this ability to everyone who applied but maybe it was because the rest of the workforce couldn’t perform their jobs entirely remotely.
One of the most senior executives at the company was first to publicly announce that they would be working remotely from New Zealand for a year which gave insight into who this 20% is.
It was even more hypocritical when news was released that this person was a staunch critic of during the pandemic.
This carries into the second part of the announcement where another 20% of the Googlers could from a new location...with a catch.
They would be hit by a 15-25% pay cut.
Google even developed a calculator for employees to determine how much they would be losing if they moved away from tech centers like Los Angeles or New York.
While it makes sense for smaller companies to offer competitive salaries depending on local wages, Alphabet is one of the most profitable companies in the world surely, they can afford to pay top salaries regardless of a ’s location.
So where is all the money going that they are saving on ?
Well, one place is new 1.3 million-square-foot former freight terminal right on the Hudson river for $2.1 billion.. In September, they announced the purchase of a sprawling
Google’s seems a lot like how executives treated for the last decade.
For me but not for thee.
So why is this happening?
One idea is it could be cognitive biases. Gleb Tsipursky of USA Today writes that some leaders suffer from mental blind spots that lead to poor strategic decision-making.
"They have a personal discomfort with from home. They've spent their careers surrounded by other people. They want to resume regularly walking the floors, surrounded by the energy of staff working."
He says they’re falling for the anchoring bias. This mental blind spot causes us to feel anchored to our initial experiences and information.
from someone who has shown increased productivity and well-being while offering it to top executives. is not a fit for everyone, but a company shouldn't restrict
You may hear this argument "Well, if they don't like the policies, then they can leave! There are plenty of talented people waiting to there."
Sure, but then they are still perpetuating a hiring system that is exclusionary to people with disabilities. They are also limiting themselves to great young diverse talent.
Will they be able to create the same amount of revenue as last year? Probably.
Who knows what will happen 5 years down the line when that gigantic Manhattan office remains mostly empty, and top engineers prefer to from their home town than commuting to congested New York three days a week.
That is why we give it a 3.
PWC Remote Work Policy (6/10)
In September, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the accounting and consulting giant, announced that all of their 40,000 client services employees will be able to continue remotely from anywhere in the United States.
The announcement did come with some caveats:
- Workers looking to relocate to lower-cost areas will face a pay cut.
- Those working in IT or workplace services teams or anywhere outside the U.S have to follow a hybrid model.
- Workers are still required to come into the office three times a month for team events or collaboration activities.
The news is bittersweet.
Although we give props to PWC for taking this step forward, it carries some of the controversial ideas we have written about before.
The whole reason that the 160-year-old company made this decision is that in a recent survey, they found 65% of all US employees are looking for a new job, and 88% of executives said they see higher turnover than average.
The most cited reasons for job-hunting included wages, benefits, career advancement, and flexibility.
Talk about an unhappy workforce.
However, we predict that this move won't impact the mass exodus or help them with their plan to hire 100,000 new workers in the next 5 years.
If you look at the reviews on Indeed or Glassdoor, the most common complaints of ex PWC workers are below-market salary and poor -life balance.
While the company can be forward-thinking in its technology adoption, it is still being held back by archaic beliefs of milking employees for everything they think they are worth.
Certainly, the name and network alone are great places to start for any recent grads, but it will continue to face low retention rates of great talent if there isn't a fundamental shift in how they treat their employees.
Still, the move alone will have a domino effect as other large corporations take notice and start experimenting with their sweeping hybrid or policies in 2022.
The thing is, you can't just slap a sticker onto your benefits and also include a huge "But" or "only if you meet these requirements."
Professionals have realized their bargaining power after the pandemic and expect to have certain flexibility benefits.
And, of course, be paid for their skills, regardless of location.
This is just one of the first steps in the future of , and perhaps PWC will keep tweaking their until they get it right.
The old giants who don't go or only go halfway will continue to see employees leave and have trouble attracting a new diverse generation. That is why it gets a 6 out of 10.
Earlier in October, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy changed its initial each individual . to decide how often their employees in the office and will now leave it up to
“We’re intentionally not prescribing how many days or which days - this is for Directors to determine with their senior leaders and teams,” said Jassy.
This is a considerable shift from Amazon’s earlier return to office mandate, which resembled Apple’s. They were expecting most corporate employees to return to the office beginning Jan. 3, 2022, and they had to be there at least three days a week.
Now, corporate employees have the option to up to one month per year fully remotely from any location within the country they’re employed.
While employees do have more flexibility on the days they are required to be in the office, Jassy said most employees would be expected to remain close enough to their team to easily travel to the office for a meeting within a day’s notice.
There are two things to unpack here. The first is that by giving managers the power to decide their team’s future, they are heavily stacking the cards in favor of a hybrid or full in-office setup.
Through surveys, it has become known that while workers overwhelmingly prefer or , executives and managers still back an in-office approach.
"A national poll by PwC found that 43% of executives prefer limited or no said they expect many or all employees to -from-home schedules-and only 24% remotely for a significant amount of time."
Much of this has to do with the fact that managers are evaluated by their team’s performance. Many have struggled mightily with as they cannot go from desk to desk monitoring productivity.
The worst has missed out on claiming ownership of other people’s results.
Add that with the fact that managers have lacked training in techniques, and a majority of managers will likely require their teams to adopt a hybrid approach or, even worse, full weeks in the office.
When you consider Amazon employees don’t even have the flexibility to move to another location from their original office, this new seems a lot more rigid than Jassy would like you to believe.
That is why it gets a 5 out of 10.
Facebook Remote Work Policy (7/10)
"I've found that working remotely has given me more space for long-term thinking and helped me spend more time with my family, which has made me happier and more productive at ,"
Zuckerberg wrote to employees in June, per The Wall Street Journal.
If you have worked remotely during the last year and a half and actually enjoyed it, these words from Mark Z will resonate with you.
The initial memo that declared Facebook’s said that they would allow full-time at all levels for half the year as long as their roles don't physically require on-site working.
The opportunity is open to all 60,000 employees, and they can even request permission to be all year round.
Despite the positive announcement, the company has been under immense pressure this year as they have been hit with several regulatory and PR scandals. One of which is a damning report on the company’s practices called “The Facebook Papers.”
The company is still making money hand over fist, with Q3 revenue increasing 35% from last year, and the number of people worldwide that use its apps increased by 12%.
It also seems the embarrassment of seeing older family members share misinformation will slow down as the company plans to shift its demographic to young adults to take on rivals like Tik Tok and Snap.
Then there was the release of Facebook Horizons that is looking to bring virtual reality into technology.
However, strapping the oculus rift goggles to your head and leading team meetings could be the future for the company but still hasn’t become accessible to most people.
This coincides with his ambition to turn Facebook into a “metaverse” company, and he expects a rebranding sometime in the near future.
Overall, Facebook seems to be more ahead of the curve than other large tech companies but still has adopted the relocation pay-cut scheme that dropped its rating slightly.
Having to deal with constant controversy also can’t be good for experience.
That is why it gets a 7/10.
Zillow Remote Work Policy (8/10)
Almost exactly a year ago, Zillow allowed 90% of their employees to from home.
Just in that time, by introducing a option, Zillow is seeing a whopping 78% more job applications than last year. Employees are still as productive and 9% more engaged.
Meanwhile, job applications are down 23% across industries.
When faced with reopening this year, they polled their employees instead of blindly declaring a 3-day workweek.
They found 60% wanted to come into the office only once a month or less.
Now they aren't struggling with reopening dates and the perfect hybrid setup.
Of course, each solution will be unique to each business and company, but Zillow is a prime example of how they will lead the company in the right direction by including employees in the process.
Something that was lost on Apple with their 3-day week mandate or Google's pay calculator for .
Some could say the companies with the best will let them win the war on talent.
But workers have already won that war. And the CEO, Rich Barton, gets that.
They are dictating the terms of a red hot digital job market where marketing, media, and design openings have grown by 947% in the last year.
is not the “new normal” just because companies say so. People will choose whether it continues to play a role in their lives or not.
People are choosing to stay because it creates opportunities to improve their quality of life.
Executives had that luxury before but will have to embrace the more equitable world that creates.
Studies have shown that women are most likely to apply for jobs, and Black and Latinx workers are more likely than white workers and men to say they prefer .
Almost half of Zillow's new hires say their biggest reason for joining, besides pay and benefits, is that /life balance is a priority here.
will be a key part of a post-pandemic world only because entire groups of employees are effectively forcing the issue.
What’s next for companies that follow the path of Zillow?
Rich says they will meet for more "on-sites" instead of getting away for "off-sites." The office will be a tool for collaboration and brainstorming.
They also implemented “core collaboration hours” to consolidate most meetings into a time-zone-friendly, four-hour window. If people who live close want to go out for drinks after, they don't need an office for that.
Those execs still on the fence have to learn to trust their employees and have the processes in place to foster .
Most importantly, trying not to replicate office with endless zoom calls.
Another forward-thinking CEO, Cevat Yerli, the founder, and CEO of ROOM, an AI-powered 3D video communications platform, suggests every leader ask themselves three challenging questions.
- First, how much control am I willing to give up?
- How asynchronous is my internal communication already, and how can I improve it?
- How can I facilitate meaningful virtual gatherings, not just routine, we’re-doing-this-because-we-always-have meetings?
The best way to mess up this shift to the future of is to assume companies will allow it to happen independently.
Let the employees choose what is best for them and have the companies address the technological pain points.
That is why Zillow gets an 8 out of 10.
Twitter Remote Work Policy (9/10)
Twitter’s 3 years in the making. It all started with a spontaneous email from the CEO, Jack Dorsey, that was meant for his executive team but sent to the entire company. is actually
He reflected on a productive day that he worked from home and encouraged everyone to do the same. At first, the HR team was surprised, but they quickly got to drafting a formal .
They began dismantling the company’s office culture and granting requests for employees to relocate.
One of the first people to take up the new was the Head of Engineering, Anton Andryeyev, who moved from stuffy San Francisco to his dream home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Although it was complicated, the official procedure for relocation requests was “get to yes.” They had employees move to rural Ireland or back to their home states, where the cost of living was cheaper.
Even Dorsey had plans to from Africa for three months before COVID.
This set up Twitter to be prepared for the Pandemic more than any other billion-dollar company on this list.
They had already been experimenting with having employees take video calls from separate rooms in the same office.
Other teams developed a video conference etiquette. They came up with a manual of hand gestures and other protocols that could be used to signal when someone wants to share their thoughts in a meeting or needs to leave early.
Another protocol Twitter’s engineers have established is the “silent read.” An interesting take on an ice breaker where every meeting starts with people reading a document and commenting their opinions on it in the video chat.
Another (Which many people can relate to when a call has gone on too long) is the HR team’s agreement to write the acronym ELMO - “Enough! Let’s move on” - into a chat system when meetings go off-topic.
Twitter also practices radical honesty when it comes to virtual communication. If someone constantly forgets to turn their mic off when another person is speaking, you are within your rights to correct them on it.
Of course, as with any over the last year and a half, there have been struggles.
- The company had to cut down on video calls to prevent Zoom fatigue and adopt more asynchronous working methods.
- The HR team devised a to suspend performance reviews for all of 2020 based on feedback from struggling parents. They also retooled their performance review system to prevent bias against a as people start coming back to the office.
- They even took the initiative to offer financial compensation for child care and $1,000 for home workspace upgrades.
- To maintain a company culture and social aspect of , they held company events such as virtual cooking demos from colleagues and “story time” with workers’ kids.
Twitter is preparing for a future when the company anticipates half of its employees will permanently from home. (Before the pandemic, it was only 3 percent.)
They understand that gives employees more autonomy and freedom and how it improves morale, retention, and productivity.
It also allows the company to compete in a talent-scarce technology market by hiring more diverse employees from all parts of the country (while not having to offer San Francisco salaries).
“Overall, employees say they feel more productive at home, according to the latest company survey in July. Nearly 70 percent of Twitter employees said in the survey that they want to continue working from home at least three days a week.”
For the last decade, companies in Silicon Valley have been obsessed with offering extravagant superficial perks. From the Matcha Latte and Kombucha bars to basketball courts in the office basement.
With this , Twitter is doing something more meaningful that will allow it to attract talent away from the Apple’s and Google’s of the world even if they can’t match the prestige or salary.
They offer flexibility and time to live your best life which are the most in-demand commodities right now. That is why they get a 9/10.
That's all the major newsworthy remote work agreement announcements to this date. Some notable mentions include Microsoft which has specifically researched how its employees have adapted to work from home. The other being Netflix which is dead set on returning the office.
Our best guess is that the majority of these hybrid policies will change going into 2022 as people adapt and find whats right. Or they could just find a more flexible opportunity somewhere else.
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