5 Colorado Leaders on What They’ve Learned Since Transitioning to Remote Work

by Taylor Karg
December 11, 2020
remote work colorado
Shutterstock

Approximately 70 percent of full-time workers are working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey conducted by Owl Labs. And, despite the sometimes difficult circumstances working from home may bring about, the survey found that 77 percent of respondents said that even after the pandemic is over, having the option to work remotely would make them happier. 

Further, Owl Labs’ survey found that one in two people said they won't return to in-person jobs even when the pandemic is over and it’s officially safe to do so. 

It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has permanently changed the way people view remote work, and this shift in thinking will shape the way they work now and well into the future. Built In Colorado caught up with five leaders across the state to learn what preconceived notions they had about remote work and how their opinions have changed since transitioning to this new remote-work environment.

 

HR tech company GigSmart connects businesses looking for labor with qualified workers. After shifting to a remote work environment, CFO Vince Catino said that his concern for ensuring employees felt support was quickly quelled thanks to everyone in the company making an effort to stay connected.  

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

My concerns or preconceived notions were not around trust, expectations or productivity, but rather the ability to foster engagement to ensure employees felt supported: Can we support our people, from set up to employee development and company culture, without a shared physical office space?

In an office environment, I bump into people in the kitchen and hallways and we have spur-of-the-moment conversations. I didn’t think there would be a way for this to happen virtually, so I was concerned about how we would stay connected.
 

Engagement is a two-way street, and people were proactively reaching out to develop and maintain strong relationships.”


How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce and what does this mean for the future of your business?

My concerns around engagement were quelled 60 days into remote working. There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet when we reached out to our employees to check in, we found this was not the case. They were more sociable, from attending biweekly virtual trivia to starting a never-ending Zoom meeting called “coffee chat.” Engagement is a two-way street and people were proactively reaching out to develop and maintain strong relationships — between employees, managers and teams.

We lead with empathy and transparency and are seeing more growth as a company than ever.  Our sales team doubled in size in the last six months. Development productivity is up 25-50 percent since we shifted to remote work. We saw a 460 percent increase in the number of hourly gigs posted in our app since March, despite COVID-19 downfalls to the job market. 

We don’t know what’s next, but we are continuing to evolve and find ways to improve from pivoting to a happy remote culture down to product development. Our confidence in the success of GigSmart is deeply rooted in the abilities of our team to innovate and collaborate. I cannot wait to see what we accomplish in 2021.

 

Josh Mitchell
Director of Engagements

Software company GoSpotCheck helps customers with merchandising, sales, labor and expenses, and safety and quality in the field. In order to keep a positive team dynamic while working remote, Director of Engagements Josh Mitchell said that his team participates in trivia hours, speed-typing challenges and fun Slack channel conversations. 

 

What's a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

Prior to COVID-19, I thought that having a fully-remote team meant the end of having fun as a team. In the office, the professional services team really enjoyed each other’s company — we regularly bounced ideas off one another, caught up on the latest goofy thing we found on the internet and debated where the best slice of pizza in Denver could be found. We were able to get a lot done and have a good time together while doing it, so I was nervous that the good times would abruptly come to an end.
 

It took us a bit of time to adjust to make sure the good times continued in a remote setting, but we’ve managed to find a balance of teamwork and fun.”

 

How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully remote workforce?

It took us a bit of time to adjust to make sure the good times continued in a remote setting, but we’ve managed to find a balance of teamwork and fun. Since transitioning to a fully remote workforce, we’ve doubled down on making time to hang out outside of our regular recurring meetings. Between trivia hours, speed-typing challenges and “would you rather” Slack threads, we’ve shaken off the idea that fun only exists in-person.

 

Bill Mrochek
Head of Product

JumpCloud’s proprietary software directory-as-a-service centralizes and simplifies identity management by giving users one set of credentials to securely access all of their files. Head of Product Bill Mrochek said that transitioning to a remote-work environment has allowed the company to diversify its recruiting pool from just residents located near Louisville, Colorado to people all over the country.

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

The pendulum has swung back and forth a few times on how the tech industry views remote work. There is one school of thought that collaboration is best when people are co-located. The other school of thought is that you can recruit and retain great talent more effectively when you support remote work. I am in the latter camp, with one caveat: A business needs to be really committed to making remote work effective.

Prior to COVID-19, JumpCloud had an in-office culture and most of the employees worked out of the main Louisville, Colorado headquarters. With open floor plans and the current trend for co-location, I assumed we would see that as the predominant model for several more years. The pandemic has obviously changed that. Remote work is the new norm in our industry. 
 

As a scaling business, making the decision to support remote work permanently will help us scale quickly and achieve our lofty goals.”


How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully remote workforce and what does this mean for the future of your business?

I now believe that this new normal is here to stay for many businesses for years to come. The pendulum has swung back. Companies were forced to adapt and figure out the tools, security and culture needed to be successful. JumpCloud is a company that made an early decision to lean in. We opened up hiring outside of Colorado to take advantage of the talent availability.  This advantage is not just for businesses — it’s also an advantage for job seekers. They can look for jobs everywhere and find the best fit for them. 

I think being a Colorado-based company with strong roots will always be a core part of JumpCloud. We look for people who fit our culture and now we have a much larger pool of applicants to choose from. A mutual fit for skillset and culture is always key to the success of a business because people are the most important part of that success. As a scaling business, making the decision to support remote work permanently will help us scale quickly and achieve our lofty goals.

 

JoAnn Clark
Director of Innovation & Technology

E-commerce company StickGiant is a custom sticker and label printing company. Director of Innovation and Technology JoAnn Clark said that transitioning to a remote work environment has strengthened the company’s ability to access and analyze data in order to better serve their clients.  

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

Personally, I had experience working remotely for long periods of time in my IT career. I thought if I did it back then (8-10 years ago), I could do it now and help others successfully navigate the shift. While my experience has been helpful for supporting folks and teams working remotely, it’s still much harder than it looks. I also didn’t think that maintaining mental wellness would be as tough as it has been at times.
 

From an IT perspective, it has accelerated our vision for a technology landscape that makes the work more portable wherever it can be portable.”


How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce, and what does this mean for the future of your business?

The response to COVID-19 opened eyes and minds at StickerGiant around how and where we do our work — both to survive the current pandemic and afterward. The continuing challenge for us will be bridging the gap between those who can work remotely versus those that cannot (due to the nature of their jobs) to be as equitable as possible while keeping our culture strong.

From an IT perspective, it has accelerated our vision for a technology landscape that makes the work more portable wherever it can be portable. Our plans for evolving our applications and platforms have been revisited and aligned to match what we think the technology needs will be in order to make both an on-site and remote workforce run effectively. The pandemic has also strengthened the spotlight on the need to access and analyze data as quickly as possible to keep pace with the rapidly changing business conditions around us.

 

Advertising technology company Location3 Media services consumer and multi-unit retail brands through enterprise-level and local digital marketing solutions. CEO Alex Porter said that the biggest struggle of a remote work environment is not being able to have in-person communication with his employees. For the future, Porter is working on a plan that involves a hybrid approach to remote and in-office work.  

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

I was always a fan of remote work and my wife has worked remotely (in advertising) for almost six years, so I didn’t really have any preconceived notions that remote work wouldn’t work. If anything, I felt that remote workers almost worked too much and had difficulty turning off the work light. I will say that I assumed I would struggle with remote work because I enjoy the daily interactions with folks and my management style often entailed walking around and speaking with my team members directly. 
 

We strive to provide a culture that motivates our team while simultaneously providing personal growth and enjoyment.”


How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce, and what does this mean for the future of your business?

I have seen that remote work can add a great deal of stress and potential for burnout, and I am struggling with missing the day-to-day connections. For our future, we are attempting to develop a hybrid approach to remote and in-office work to reap the benefits of working remotely and in-person communication. We are committed to providing and fostering a healthy environment and are striving to provide a culture that motivates our team while simultaneously providing personal growth and enjoyment.

Jobs from companies in this blog

Colorado startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Denver & Boulder
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Denver & Colorado Tech
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Colorado Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Women in Colorado Tech