Work environments have always been fluid. We’ve gone from open spaces holding dozens of employees, to cubicles and private corner offices, then back to open-concept spaces all over again. And now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve changed once more. Instead of gathering in boardrooms and engaging in hands-on brainstorming sessions, we’re joining virtual meetings. Rather than catching up with coworkers in the lunchroom, we’re sharing weekend highlights via messaging apps, email, and Zoom.
It’s no secret that best-of-breed technologies have enabled us to maintain connection and productivity while sheltering in place. But implementing these solutions in a way that doesn’t negatively impact productivity requires careful consideration and coordination. In this second installment of the “Okta-on-Okta Remote Work” webinar series, our Workplace and IT teams share what they did to move our entire workforce online in a matter of days—and how they supported employees along the way.
Embracing technology at home
In our first post of the series, we discussed how Okta’s uniquely cloud-first infrastructure made it easier to shift to remote work so quickly. Still, our technology teams had to be creative in order to make the transition as smooth as possible for our employees.
For example, the Workplace team went from supporting conference rooms and in-office technologies (e.g., printers) to supporting remote environments. In addition to Box, Office 365, and G-Suite, our employees have leaned heavily on video conferencing and collaboration tools as they adjusted to working from home:
- Zoom: We were already using this application prior to COVID-19, but that usage has since increased. Monthly Zoom meeting minutes soared by 30%—and now, nearly all employees (95%) turn on video during meetings.
- Slack: Slack continues to help Okta employees connect, while also enabling our IT team to efficiently support users. Since the shift to remote work, usage has increased by almost 30% month-over-month.
As most of you will relate to, our teams faced a significant increase of help desk tickets at the start of the pandemic, but the volume quickly leveled as people grew more comfortable working remotely. Ultimately, this allowed our technology teams to turn their attention to creating effective, seamless experiences for webinars and virtual events, such as Oktane20.
Expanding our remote workforce
One of the biggest challenges we faced in this new workforce model was welcoming new hires to Okta. Instead of having 30 employees or more gather together in one room for onboarding, we’re now sending laptops directly to homes and introducing them to the applications they need with online collaboration tools. While this might sound more complicated from a logistics standpoint, it has also led to more personal, individualized experiences.
Thankfully, we already had the right lifecycle management and provisioning solutions in place to ensure employees have access to the tools they need from Day 1. Our architecture has long been set up with HR as a primary, which automatically provides access to applications based on individual attributes like role or location.
With the right architecture and tools, we have been able to continue expanding our workforce—following many of the same steps and processes that were in effect prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connecting and communicating with everyone
Ensuring employees have the right access to the right technology is crucial at a time like this, but communicating early and often has proven even more important. In order to maintain productivity, support customers, and create a sense of camaraderie, our technology teams prioritized transparency above all else, and came up with a number of ways to keep employees engaged—even from a distance.
- Weekly touchpoints: All-hands meetings have always been a core part of Okta’s culture—but they’ve become even more crucial now that we’re working remotely.
- Wiki pages: Our technology teams created a series of wiki pages that cover everything from coronavirus preparedness to remote working tips, helping employees stay healthy and productive at home.
- Online tech support: We created a new 24/7 “Ask IT” channel that gives users an easy way to get in touch if problems occur.
- Surveys: Okta’s Workplace team regularly administers surveys to determine how employees are feeling and if they have access to the tools they need, among other things. These resources have been great for gauging employee sentiment and helping everyone feel supported.
- Casual conversations: We’ve made a point of connecting with remote employees on a more personal level, and have even hosted themed virtual “happy hours.” Managers also have regular check-ins with individual team members, and reserve time for casual conversations in group meetings.
At Okta, we’ve fully embraced the concept of remote work—but we understand it’s only one part of the equation. A recent employee survey revealed that 60% of our workforce is interested in working from home permanently, while 20% are interested in working remotely at least two days a week. As we look ahead and begin to consider re-opening our offices, we not only need to make sure our physical spaces are ready, but also to fully incorporate dynamic work into our future.
For more insights on how we’re redefining our workforce, check out the following resources: