EV Case Study: Building a culture of flexibility - How HubSpot promotes genuine equality worldwide


My Pham

Marketing & Communication Executive

In this article...

    HubSpot is the largest customer relationship management (CRM) expert in the world, with yearly sales of $883 million (£661 million). The Massachusetts-based firm, which announced the establishment of its first office in London earlier in 2021, has garnered a number of recognitions for its workplace culture, including the title of "#1 place to work" for 2019 from Glassdoor.

    Following Covid-19, HubSpot established a flexible working arrangement in accordance with the preferences of its staff. This strategy is not particularly original, but what really distinguishes the company is the effort it has made to reboot its culture. The entire work structure has been completely recalculated for flexible working in order to ensure that every employee has equal opportunities, whether they are working from home or in the office.

    Here, Meaghan Williams, the culture manager at HubSpot, shows how the company has changed its strategy, moving beyond benefits and rules to build something that is actually future-proof.

    True distant inclusion, according to Meaghan Williams, does not include everyone experiencing the same things at the same time. It's not just a matter of copying and pasting the workplace experience into an unfamiliar setting.

    "For us, it's about establishing new customs and standards and making sure that our culture isn't confined to a specific place. You won't need to visit a HubSpot office to experience culture, that is our aim.”

    The creation of a workplace where everyone has access to the same rights, obligations, and opportunities regardless of the career path they choose is an ambitious ideal. Their objective is to put in place a system of practices and principles that enable colleagues to work remotely or on-site wherever they want.

    In essence, HubSpot is starting over with its working policies. It's a difficult yet exciting task.

    Variation and adaptability

    HubSpot appears to be totally devoted to remote work. It is at the tip of the digital arrowhead and a founding member of the current CRM industry, making it a component of the exclusive group of businesses influencing the fourth industrial revolution. 10% of Covid-19's workers were already telecommuters, and the company encouraged employees to take as many vacation days as they wanted and schedule their workdays around other obligations.

    However, the business has opted against allowing all employees to work remotely. Meaghan and her fellow people leaders think it's important to keep the advantages of the office, such as the sense of belonging and community, the structure it provides certain coworkers, and the ability for huddles and face-to-face planning. Any employee at HubSpot has access to any other employee as part of the company's long-standing "no-door" philosophy. The HR leaders worry that by imposing strict rules on work locations, they risk undermining this strategy.

    The future of employment has been the subject of many clichés, Meaghan observes. "Companies are investing heavily on remote work and declaring that the office is obsolete. However, enabling individuals to perform at their best wherever they are is our major priority.

    The HR leaders have developed three separate working methods based on employee surveys as well as panel discussions that sought the perspectives of selected samples. Each employee is free to select the approach that works best for them and modify it as necessary if their circumstances change.

    - Office-based. Three or more days a week, employees visit a HubSpot office. When they come, they are given a specific workstation for their laptop, monitor, family photographs, plants, and other items necessary to make a friendly work atmosphere. Although they have the choice to bring their laptop home, this stream will not receive an at-home desk setup.

    - Home-based. Most of the time, these team members operate from home in an area that has been permitted by HubSpot. The WiFi is optimized by HubSpot.

    - Flex. Two days a week or fewer, this group visits a HubSpot office. When they arrive at the office, they will be provided a WFH setup and given a "hotel desk" that is, whenever feasible, paired with their team.

    When asked which of these three possibilities they preferred, the staff's comments supported the choice to take such a multifaceted strategy. For the period of 2021, 39% of respondents stated they would want to work from home, while 18% chose to work in an office and 43% favored the "flex" option. A rather diverse blend that reflects the idea that everyone is different, even for a tech firm.

    Creating something unique

    However, this adaptability has drawbacks. The inequities that flexible working may produce have been brought to light by several businesses and employees throughout the epidemic. Office-based coworkers frequently have access to better technology, more frequent communication with colleagues, and better long-term chances. The CIPD issued a warning about the possibility of a two-tier workforce earlier this year, citing data that revealed a number of flexible working "notspots" around the UK.

    HubSpot tries its hardest to stay away from this. Instead of merely modernizing their working procedures and slapping on a few regulations that are helpful to remote employees, they aim to create something entirely new—a culture that is both impartial and receptive.

    On the most fundamental level, this entails putting in place tangible policies. For instance, HubSpot aims to make 70 percent of new job listings location-neutral, and the great majority of positions are advertised with all three geographic options. Additionally, the business has eliminated all office-based benefits for 2021 and 2022. Presenteeism is strongly discouraged in HubSpot's new normal.

    The new agenda, however, goes well beyond guidelines and checkboxes. Meaghan and her team aim to educate their workers in order to develop a culture that is really hybrid-centric. In fact, they are making an effort to explain the new culture to every single employee in the business.

    The people leads aim to reboard current team members, especially managerial employees, in addition to onboarding new team members. Individualized training and seminars on critical topics for hybrid working, such as inclusive hiring and psychological safety, are being provided to people managers and team leads. Additionally, they will receive specialized instruction on how to deal with proximity bias, supported by important suggestions, such as choosing to phone in from home rather than the office when other team members are doing the same.

    Learning and technology for the future

    Technology is a major component of the curriculum. Zoom, Gmail, Slack, Loom (a video chat platform), and Confluence, a web-based wiki created by Australian startup Atlassian, are just a few of the many digital tools HubSpot has accumulated. Even a virtual reality platform that allowed users to create avatars, move about the virtual environment, hear other users' voices, and communicate in real time as if they were in the workplace has been tested by the corporation.

    But how should each technological device be applied? How can HubSpot modify each tool to make sure it is equitable to all employees, regardless of where they are located? Hours were spent going over these questions by the HR team as they developed a plan they could communicate.

    When you're in a co-located team, communication is essential, adds Meaghan. 

    “But it might be really challenging to determine what to utilize when you're new, particularly if you're remote. Therefore, our L&D, IT, and Internal Communications teams are collaborating to teach individuals how to utilize each technology in a considerate and inclusive manner.”

    Big-picture concepts like the need to prioritize each piece of technology, identify the right tools for each occasion, and offer deliberate communication by carefully considering the message they want to express with each encounter will be ingrained through these educational programs.

    The programs will also give training leaders the chance to promote practical techniques like adding time zones to Slack accounts and using the "Remote Brains Trust" channel to exchange advice and problems.

    In addition to this emphasis on current employees, the HR leads seek to improve the onboarding process for new hires, regardless of where they are coming from.

    Meaghan and her coworkers are working to enhance the amount of work that can be completed asynchronously so that new recruits don't have to spend every minute of the day in the same classroom as everyone else.

    Additionally, they aim to develop a more caring and inclusive method so that every new hire may benefit fully from their education.

    The new recruit training team is moving away from large onboarding groups in order to achieve the latter objective. Smaller hubs with more facilitators are what they want to emphasize so that everyone feels included and welcome and has plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

    Boosting health and preventing burnout

    This fits nicely with HubSpot's broader focus on health, especially the problem of burnout, which continues to pose serious issues for the international business community as lockdowns drag on and travel possibilities are still scarce.

    The approach taken by HubSpot is referred to as HubSpot Unplugged. Once more, it is intended to guarantee that every worker receives the required protection, regardless of where they work or whether they actively seek assistance or not.

    In 2020, HubSpot established regional rest days—dedicated days off from work—based on the individual requirements of each worker in the organization's 10 international locations. This was expanded in 2021 to form the Global Week of Rest; from July 5 to July 9, HubSpot provided all employees a business holiday week, allowing them to take time off and rejuvenate at a time when many areas were still struggling with local lockdown measures.

    The people leaders have created no Internal Meeting Fridays as an addition to this policy. Team members have been aggressively discouraged from scheduling meetings in order to avoid Zoom fatigue and recapture that cherished "Friday vibe." Instead, members are encouraged to work deeply at this time or plan their schedules for the coming week so they can start off on the right foot.

    The people leads have led to an increase in programs for mental health awareness. For workers to listen, learn, and find methods to prioritize their mental health at work, new programs have been implemented.

    As part of this strategy's second phase, HubSpot has now unveiled a framework known as the 5 Rs:

    Rest: Introducing an Annual Global Week of Rest
    Recharge: Having ‘No Internal Meeting Fridays’
    Reboard: Supporting Managers With Focused Resources
    Resilience: Offering a Workshop Around Sustainable Performance
    Root Cause: Solving for the Long Term with Workforce Planning and Resourcing

    According to Meaghan, "fixing burnout isn't about checking a box." "Continuous preventive steps are required to combat it, and the 5 Rs framework incorporates a blend of short- and long-term thought and action."

    Like many businesses, HubSpot is still developing its post-Covid strategy. The effects won't start to show right away. However, the early indications are positive. In addition to its exceptional financial performance, the business continues to receive positive comments from its own staff. Glassdoor's 1,894 reviews show a 4.7 percent overall approval rating, with 93 percent of respondents stating they would refer the business to a friend.

    Positive feedback like this will result in improved performance and a stronger corporate culture. Principles are extremely important to HubSpot; its creator, Dharmesh Shah, has written a substantial book on

    culture that emphasizes the need of upholding these values at all times.
    HubSpot thinks that by overhauling its whole culture to fit the post-pandemic reality, its employees will continue to represent the brand no matter what instability the upcoming few months bring.

    Source: hrdconnect.com