Startups Rush to Adapt to Remote-Work Norms


September 30, 2020


Business, Science



As remote teams become the norm, startup leaders and employees shift expectations on what makes for effective work. [Credit : Chris Montgomery on Unsplash]

SAN FRANCISCO, September 18 – After months of working remotely due to COVID-19, 81% of Silicon Valley workers say they want to continue working remotely in some form when the pandemic is over.

One of the first US regions to enforce COVID-19 lockdown and home to the largest tech startups in the world, the Bay Area has been an epicenter of transitions as companies shift gears to meet needs of the new remote work ecosystem. 

Startups, in particular, can feel the strain of disruptions brought on by the pandemic, being already limited on resources to maintain the pace of business operations needed to survive and scale. Yet their size and culture of flexibility also allow startup teams an advantage in adapting and keeping up progress over the past few months.

“We’ve been a distributed team for a while, but that’s different from being remote only,” said Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee, a brand marketing platform. Distributed teams are those that collaborate from different locations. “In high-performing companies, trust is critical [but] building it remotely is challenging,”  he added. 

“Work that is more independent will continue to stay productive,” he said, “but collaborative or creative work that needs unstructured time will be more difficult. Alignment and communication are key. ”

A July 2020 workplace study found that before the pandemic, only 10% of startups were fully remote but over half had already offered some form of remote work option. Despite these options, over 80% of respondents still reported spending a full four-to-five days in the office. 

The study also found that during the pandemic, over half of the respondents reported that they felt ‘slightly’ to ‘considerably’ more productive working remotely, and 86% reported that they found that 75 – 100% of their work could be done remotely. When asked for their preference post-COVID for work, 81% shared that they would want some hybrid of office and remote work. Full-time work accommodation opinions remain split with 10% wanting full-time remote and 7% wanting full-time in an office. 

The study was compiled by TechCrunch and Founders Forum Live to assess the state of startup work dynamics and employee attitudes during the pandemic, surveying 328 participants from startups at various stages of funding and ranging from 10 – 500 employees. 

While it remains unclear how much longer remote work mandates will remain in place, changes in work-from-home policies will be expected as startups strive to stay competitive in hiring and maintaining top talent. 

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