Before COVID-19 hit in 2020, only 6% of US workers worked purely remotely and a quarter worked from home sometimes.
However, this skyrocketed to around 60% in spring 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced workers to leave their offices and work from home en masse.
As workers have embraced working remotely – and some of them preferring it to coming into the office – companies are grappling with what the future of work looks like.
While life sciences-focused cloud computing company Veeva has always allowed its employees flexibility about where they work, there were always “informal” practices that “originally evolved over time as new countries and teams were set up”, Cris Westall, VP of employee success for EMEA, tells UNLEASH.
However, the shift to full-time remote working in the pandemic, as well as resulting “competitive talent pools”, Veeva decided to formalize its strategy with a new policy titled Work Anywhere, which was launched in September 2020.
The policy is centered around Veeva’s “core belief that people want to be productive for themselves, their teams and their customers”, notes Westall.
As a result, Work Anywhere at Veeva aims to make a “difference in people’s lives – every human is unique and we have [different] ways we want to operate both at work and at home”, says Westall.
Work Anywhere at Veeva
There are five elements to the policy, the first is ‘Work from Anywhere’ and it aims to give employees the ability to choose to work where is best for them. This is available across all of Veeva’s global offices and all departments, except ‘location workers’ who have to be onsite to work.
Second, Veeva is clear that working from anywhere is not living anywhere. However, there is some flexibility; sales teams will be required to work in the same region as their customers and product teams should live within two time zones of a hub to help with collaboration.
Third, if employees do decide to change location, this will not affect their salary. This means Veeva is breaking with the likes of Facebook and Twitter who are planning to reduce employee compensation for those who move outside of the San Francisco Bay area.
Gassner wrote: “Where you live impacts you and your family. Not knowing if your compensation will change if you move (and if so by how much) or if you will even keep your job can cause stress and uncertainty for everyone. We wanted to eliminate that.”
The fourth element is that Veeva is committed to ensuring that all employees are “first-class citizens”. “There is no such thing as a ‘remote employee’ at Veeva. The term implies if you don’t work in an office you are somehow different,” explained Gassner.
“We have specific Work Anywhere practices to ensure all employees are treated the same.”
For example, if one person who is working from home is on Zoom, then everyone will join Zoom from their own workspace, rather than everyone in the office being together in a conference room.
The final part is that Veeva has redesigned its offices so they will act as collaboration hubs. According to Gassner, “Our new offices are smaller with layouts that facilitate connections and collaboration. We recently opened a development hub in Boston and now have 34 offices worldwide.”
Westall notes that Veeva was super clear about the policy, which has provided “certainty” for people and that it has been well received across the company.
HR tech empowers Work Anywhere
It is clear that Zoom is central to Veeva’s Work Anywhere policy; but Slack and Google Chat also play a core role.
In addition, Westall explains that Veeva relies on its own in-house tool OrgWiki to support its hybrid working reality. “It is a virtual organization structure, which allows you to look at every person in the company and learn more about who they are, what their role is, primarily where they work and how you can reach them”.
Westall believes this tool has enabled faster connection between Veeva’s global employees. “Because we can’t see each other face to face, it is a great way to get to know people better”.
Although Veeva used this pre-pandemic, it is becoming “our centralizing tool for collaboration and productivity”, which is then supplemented by Zoom, Slack, and Google Chat.
Standing out in the ‘Great Resignation’
Veeva is very clear that Work Anywhere is central to helping it retain employees in this competitive market.
In his prepared remarks ahead of Q2 financial year 2022 earning report, Gassner wrote: “We compete well in this environment by being an employee-centric company with a clear vision, strong ethics, and a reputation for product excellence, and customer success. Our Work Anywhere approach has also been a real advantage.”
In terms of vision, Westall notes that Veeva has a “customer obsessive” mindset. So “this overall core value of customer success…is really compelling and it has made us an attractive place to come and work”.
This is particularly the case since Veeva helps pharma and life sciences companies carry out their clinical trials and bring life-saving medicines to the market; so working at Veeva can enable employees to really “make a difference”, according to Westall.
In addition, Westall notes that Veeva has just crossed over the 5,000 employee mark globally. The company is growing at an impressive rate. This “means there are opportunities for individuals to come here, drive their careers to new heights and make an impact”.
Another thing that makes Veeva stand out as an employer is that is a public benefit corporation (PBC), which means it is a for-profit company that doesn’t just focus on maximizing profits, but also wants to have a positive impact on society, as well as work in the interests of employees.
Launched in February 2021, Veeva was actually the first publicly traded company to adopt this model as a way to introduce corporate social responsibility into its business model. It is clear that being a PBC is valuable for retention as it has been received very well by Veeva’s employees.
5% pay rise across the business
Following on from its Work Anywhere and PBC announcements, and to react to the “dynamics of the market” that impact employees and their daily lives, in September 2021, Veeva announced it would introduce a one-time 5% salary increase to employees.
Why did Veeva decide to do a 5% increase? “We like to keep things simple. We could have gone country by country, region by region, and look at inflation practices, but it gets disingenuous. We thought 5% is a health increase and 5% works across the globe”, explains Westall.
Members of the leadership team and those earning more than $300,000 were exempted. This was because “highly compensated individuals are able to adjust market pressures more than the rest”.
“It was not about making the rich richer, it was to help employees do more for their families”, notes Westall. This is a bold move and one that Veeva wanted to make now, rather than waiting for the end of the year.
This also ties in with Veeva’s commitment to internal mobility, and “enhancing career growth and development teams”, according to Westall.
She notes that at the moment the demand for talent is high, so “it is very easy for companies to just think recruit, recruit, but, in fact, we have existing talent that we should be tapping into to feed overall growth at Veeva”.
The company has a philosophy called ‘Captain Your Own Ship’ where “we empower individuals to think about what’s next in their career, how we’re going to give them better mechanisms to navigate their career paths, and what is going to help us continue to scale.”
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