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CHROs at Zoom, Box and Okta talk remote work trends

CHROs at Zoom, Box and Okta believe the rise in remote and flexible work arrangements is here to stay. They also believe location-based recruiting is a thing of the past.

If any firm has benefited from the shift to remote work, it is Zoom Video Communications, Inc. Its stock price was around $70 near the start of the year. Today, it is about $470. Market success aside, Zoom faces the same disruptive remote work trends currently affecting most firms.

Zoom's technology may enable remote work, but no more than 18% of Zoom's workforce was remote at the pandemic's start, said Lynne Oldham, Zoom's chief people officer. That percentage was "surprisingly [low] for who we are," she said.

The number of remote workers at Zoom is likely to double or triple long term, Oldham said. The rapid shift to remote work also has required a different way of thinking about managing staff and measuring outcomes.

Lynne Oldham, chief people officer, Zoom Video Communications Inc.Lynne Oldham

"Should managers only trust people when you see them eight hours a day?" Oldham asked. She then turned the question around: "What evidence do you have to distrust people who work from home?"

Oldham's comments came during an online panel Thursday that was convened by Box Inc. to look at corporate culture shifts. Oldham was joined by Jessica Swank, chief people officer at Box, and Kristina Johnson, chief people officer at identity management company Okta Inc.

The CHROs believe that many of the emerging remote work trends will become permanent, including a shift in skills. Soft skills once thought of as "nice to have" are critical today, Johnson said.

"You have to be able to connect with people and have enough self-awareness to know to meet them where they are," Johnson said.

The leading remote work trends

Managers can overcome trust issues by being clear about expectations, Zoom's Oldham said, but most important are the results.

Jessica Swank, chief people officer, Box Inc.Jessica Swank

"For me, it's all about being outcomes-based, not time-based," Oldham said. "I'm not interested in seeing you for eight hours. I'm interested in what you're going to produce."

The firms are also working to build camaraderie among employees.

At Box, the HR team has launched a "Community Corner," which is a virtual event held every week. The sessions are voluntary and may focus on wellness issues, provide space for social issue discussions or lead employees in a yoga session. It's done with the idea of trying to "cultivate and create that sense of community," Swank said.

All of the CHROs said remote work will increase long term as will flexible work arrangements.

They also believe location-based hiring is less important now and will continue to be so in the future.

Kristina Johnson, chief people officer, Okta Inc.Kristina Johnson

"We don't care where you are," Johnson said. "We want to find the right person with the right skills, and we'll give you the tech stack and make sure you're enabled to do your job from anywhere."

"Our time-to-hire has actually decreased," Swank said. There is no need to arrange travel or coordinate on-site meetings. Hiring is more streamlined and efficient, she said.

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