Don’t Know How to Do Hybrid Right? Ask Your Employees.

Buoyed by the belief that employees should decide the work arrangement that suits them best, Dynatrace and Panorama Education have found an uptick in engagement and performance by reimagining the possibilities of a dispersed workforce.

Written by Jeff Kirshman
Published on Sep. 27, 2022
Don’t Know How to Do Hybrid Right? Ask Your Employees.
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The choice is yours. 

That’s the message Boston-area tech companies Dynatrace and Panorama Education have given its employees in response to the question of hybrid work models. 

While many organizations adapted to remote work out of necessity at the start of the pandemic, a widespread push for a return to the office has threatened to nullify the convenience and flexibility many workers have grown accustomed to by working from home — or wherever they feel most comfortable. 

Not so at Dynatrace and Panorama Education. Buoyed by the belief that employees should decide the work arrangement that suits them best, both companies have found an uptick in engagement and performance by reimagining the possibilities of a dispersed workforce.

“Unlike other organizations, we don’t envision requiring our team members to return to the office,” said Jamaal Thompson, vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and culture at Panorama Education, where employees are offered options for remote, in-office or hybrid work. “We have successfully transitioned to a remote-first company, and our employee engagement scores have never been higher.” 

Kristi Smith, vice president of people operations at Dynatrace, attributed her company’s approach to remote work to a simple-yet-vital concept: listening. The information technology company recently launched its “Dynatrace Work Model” to build flexibility throughout the organization, gathering employee feedback to cater its hybrid work model to the desires of its employees. 

Like Panorama Education, Dynatrace offers three options for its employees: flex office, flex remote and fully remote. Each option is supported equally by the company, Smith said, with employees given a full commitment from leadership and the appropriate tools and resources necessary to perform their best. 

“We learned that our employees will rise to the occasion,” Smith said. “We also learned to heed employee feedback about needing flexibility — the ability to work in a mode that aligns with their personal life.”

Built In Boston met with Thompson and Smith to learn why their companies arrived at their current model, and what the response has been within the organization.

 

Kristi Smith
Vice President, People Operations • Dynatrace

 

Dynatrace is a unified software intelligence platform that uses AI to automate cloud operations, deliver software faster and more securely, and ensure flawless digital experience.

 

Describe your hybrid work arrangement.

At Dynatrace, we encourage employees to find the working model that best suits them and their team. The Dynatrace Work Model is designed to support increased employee connection and collaboration, drive cultural vibrancy and enable hyper-innovation — all while enabling a flexible work approach. 

Employee options include flex office, flex remote and fully remote. Flex office is designed for employees who enjoy the office vibe, prefer a collaboration space and like in-office benefits and a dedicated desk. Flex remote is designed for employees who seek maximum flexibility between home and office. And fully remote is designed for those who travel regularly for work, live a significant distance from physical offices or just work better at home.

 

Why did you choose this arrangement? 

The DWM is just one of the ways Dynatrace builds flexibility into the workplace and improves the employee experience. Based on employee feedback and lessons learned through the pandemic, we launched the DWM to explicitly support our employees’ collaboration activities and their desire for a flexible work approach.  

We knew that success would require a full commitment from leadership and the appropriate tools and resources, such as desk reservation systems and collaboration technology. Our approach is employee-centric and fosters workplace excellence. But what makes our program unique is that we don’t have plans to stop developing the DWM. As the company moves forward, we will continue to build programs that support collaboration and improve work-life balance.

Our approach is employee-centric and fosters workplace excellence.”

 

What lessons from the pandemic and remote work in general have influenced the DWM?

When faced with the challenge of not being able to work physically alongside their colleagues, our developers maximized their use of online collaboration tools to continue to enhance their work productivity. Additionally, we observed global trends of other organizations experiencing waves of employee resignations. The people and leadership teams knew we needed to shift our mindset and embrace a flexible work model that fit our employees’ needs.

 

 

Panorama team members having a social gathering in the office
Panorama Education

 

Jamaal Thompson
VP of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging & Culture • Panorama Education

 

Panorama Education helps educators understand how students are doing across academics, attendance, behavior and social-emotional learning — then plan for action to support each student's unique needs and circumstances. The growing company now reaches over 15 million students across the United States.

 

Describe your hybrid work arrangement. 

As a high-growth organization dedicated to radically improving education, we need to attract the best team members to support our mission, our vision and our push to empower our culture.

As a result, Panorama Education supports a completely flexible work arrangement. This flexibility has allowed us to attract talent throughout the country. We have employees located in over 40 states, and 90 percent of our team members are fully remote.

Panorama offers team members the choice of three modes of work: an in-office option (3-5 days a week in-office at our San Francisco or Boston offices); a remote option (less than one day per week in-office); and a flex option (1-2 days per week in-office).

 

Why did you choose this arrangement? 

The pandemic was a catalyst to help us reimagine how we work together, recognizing that the world literally changed before our eyes. Our head of workplace operations, Callie Poniatowski, led a project with support from our people team called the Future of Work. 

The project helped us to answer some of the questions we asked ourselves, such as:How do we foster a sense of belonging? How do we preserve our culture when we’re geographically dispersed? What updates do we need to make to our benefits package? How do we ensure that our team members who are coming into the office can do so in safe and supportive ways? 

Panorama has always had team members dispersed throughout the country. When you shift from 90 percent of the team being in-office to working in a flexible work arrangement, you adapt, and you get to understand team members in a different way as you literally see their families, where they live, their pets and more. You also normalize that unexpected guests in meetings are OK. You gather a greater sense of empathy for your team members’ experiences and really live our “care about people” core value in action.

The pandemic was a catalyst to help us reimagine how we work together.”

 

What lessons from the pandemic and remote work in general have influenced your hybrid work model?

There are no bounds to culture. The shift to a remote-first work environment has allowed us to reimagine our onboarding so team members joining the organization have the resources they need to be successful on Day 1. New team members experience our values-based onboarding that helps them to understand our culture, our products, our benefits and so much more. Onboarding empowers new team members to provide impact as quickly as possible. 

One of our team members’ favorite parts of onboarding is hearing directly from our CEO, Aaron Feuer, about our mission, vision and values, along with a separate session on the company’s history. Team members played an active part in shaping the following reimagined values that we rolled out to the organization in March of 2021: focus on student impact; care about people; diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

progress over perfection; be bold, be innovative.

We’ve also updated our benefits package across the board to support all team members. 

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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