A Look Back to Move Forward: What 2020 Meant for Okta

The year 2020 has been marked by difficulty, disruption, and division. Here at Okta, we share that sense as we look back at the headlines that have shaped the past 12 months—events that are now shaping how we orient ourselves towards the future. 

But we also have the good fortune of thinking about the past year with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Because, in the face of so much turmoil, Okta’s leaders, teams, and customers have stepped up in some amazing ways.

A role model for a new business model

In March, as everything changed, Okta directed all employees to work from home a week before the first U.S. lockdowns. However, our transition to a more flexible and hybrid work model actually began much earlier.

For years, we had been watching a rapid rise in the cost of city living, the virtualization of the workplace, and a changing workforce increasingly focused on freedom and independence. As a result, Okta was already rethinking how to distribute spaces, resources, and benefits to support these diverse needs.

We dubbed this new model “Dynamic Work.” By spring, Gartner was already reporting that 74% of CFOs planned to allow permanent remote work for some roles, and Okta was in a position to share best practices and guideposts for a successful transition with organizations across the globe.

To learn more about how we’re thinking about dynamic work, check out The Ultimate Guide to Dynamic Work

Supporting our employees, whatever it takes

As the pandemic accelerated our shift to remote work, employees were suddenly faced with new stressors and pressures. These ranged from round-the-clock care for children or elderly parents to the overall anxiety of living through a pandemic, cut off from friends and family. This was exacerbated by racial injustice across the United States, along with an unprecedented and contentious election—topics which Okta’s leadership did not shy away from in our all-hands meetings.

Standing up for our employees has meant offering mental health support, hosting sessions that provided a safe space for affected communities, and providing resources to educate allies in their own efforts. Through Okta for Good, POC@Okta also directed $10,000 to Black Lives Matter, and employee contributions to our fund for causes fighting for racial justice were matched 300%. And looking to the future, Okta has committed $3 million to racial justice and workforce development organizations over the next three years.

To ensure meaningful support where it mattered most, Okta surveyed the entire employee base to determine what new or adjusted benefits we should provide. We also launched the Okta Employee Experience Marketplace, a platform featuring everything from virtual workout classes and social events to parenting resources, discounts on meal delivery, and on-demand therapy. And that’s not all! Among other initiatives, we also launched a lottery system to repurpose company laptops every month, sending them to parents so that their children can continue remote learning.

Vital assistance to vulnerable communities

For nonprofits providing life-changing—and life-saving—services to people in need, the COVID-19 lockdowns could not have come at a worse time. Spring is a crucial season for fundraising, but while demand for nonprofit services was at an all-time high, events were canceled, volunteers were sheltering at home, and donations were lower than ever.

That’s why Okta for Good took action, sponsoring $500,000 in rapid-response grants with no strings attached. The initial recipients were local Bay Area-based homeless and elderly services agencies—but we soon expanded our support to food banks and critical services across the globe.

We also offered core Okta services free of charge to new customers through Okta’s Emergency Remote Work Program, recognizing that nonprofits were especially in need of securing access for their newly remote workforces.

The story doesn’t stop there. Read more about our team’s response

Online programming with a powerful impact

As many events went virtual at the start of the pandemic, the Oktane20 team was tasked with hosting the conference online for the first time, and they pivoted within a matter of weeks. The result? A remarkably engaging, energetic, and successful virtual experience. Throughout the year, a range of other online programs, events, and webinars continued to engage our extended community of customers, partners, peers, and vendors. 

The Oktane20 LIVE COVID-19 Response Fund was an Okta for Good initiative that took place alongside our digital conference. It raised over $110,000 for international aid workers at Direct Relief, the CDC Foundation, and the International Medical Corps, surpassing its original goal.

Check out the lessons we learned by taking our conference virtual.

A whole new meaning for “Always On”

Beyond delivering our customers with a seamless virtual experience at Oktane20, we’ve also adjusted how we support them across our platform. At the height of lockdown, our service delivery remained constant thanks to our cloud-based, multi-tenant architecture model and distributed data center approach. We even appointed a designated Coronavirus Preparedness Team to ensure business continuity through a number of potential scenarios. 

Then by July, we had hit a major milestone: 99.99% uptime for all users, no matter where they were located or what type of service subscription they had. That means Okta now allows less than one hour of downtime per year—a whole new standard for the identity industry. This is at a time when other IDaaS providers are still allowing half an hour of downtime per week.

To learn more about how we made this happen, read our 99.99% Uptime For Every Customer blog post.

Laying the foundations for a secure future

The past year was like no other, and there’s no shortage of uncertainties for the year ahead. That’s why at Okta, we continue to take our role seriously as leaders and standard-bearers for identity and security worldwide. Security, in particular, is top-of-mind for our company, and for organizations around the world.

We want to encourage our customers as they embed a culture of security into their operations, one that positions cyber security as a core value creator, and frameworks such as Zero Trust as non-negotiable.

Health, safety, and security remain our top priorities, as does refining and supporting our dynamic work model. But even though our employees can work from wherever they choose, and many won’t be required to return to a central office, we still look forward to the day when we can all come together to celebrate Okta’s continued success as a team.