Insights | Sales

Back To The Office?

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Ellen Terlizzi

September 07, 2023
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As summer draws to a close and we usher in the "back to school" season, the debate over remote versus in-office takes center stage. Companies like Amazon and Zoom Communications have recently introduced policies requiring in-office presence, sparking a range of responses from their employees.

Over the last three years, startups have been building and growing in remote environments. Now, those who initially established themselves remotely within a particular location are faced with the choice of transitioning to an in-person work culture. What are the preferences of their teams in this evolving landscape?

Bowery recently hosted a happy hour for local NYC SDRs, where discussion ranged from topics including quota structure, attainment, training and enablement, and the ever-evolving workplace culture. Among these subjects, one particular aspect that truly stood out was the impact of in-office dynamics on teams.

My first introduction to the NYC startup world was open floor plans and vibrant co-working spaces. Companies advertised perks like ping-pong tables, snacks, team lunches, cold brew on tap, and the promise of engaging in team-building activities. This was exciting- escape rooms and rooftop happy hours- few would deny the fun new ways to build culture. Even before the necessity for remote work, companies were shaking things up.

While the ideal work environment initially felt like a successful approach to grow a company, it seems to take a back seat to effective leadership and professional growth opportunities. We’ve seen sales reps jump from organizations due to a lack of promotional paths, poor training and enablement, unattainable goals, and more. These same indicators often lead to over-hiring and layoffs.

The global pandemic has taught us success evolves within many landscapes. Parsing out the positives of both in-office work and remote work and finding the balance should be the goal. In-office requirement shouldn’t feel punitive. Instead, it should be rich in its offering of learning opportunities, team meetings, training, and real-time feedback.

It's evident that the in-office setting provides opportunities for accelerated growth, effective skill transfer, and a strong sense of belonging that greatly impacts the professional journey of SDRs. This isn’t anything new - but SDRs are also craving this type of environment but with flexibility.

Offering flexibility to your employees, especially SDRs who are responsible for pipeline generation and targets that significantly impact revenue can be challenging. I’ve been in environments where flexibility is often tied to performance; This type of culture will fail fast and employees will begin to resent the offering of a flexible work culture because there isn’t trust or safety associated with working remotely.

Leadership must make deliberate decisions on how to sustain growth while defining the role of office culture in this evolving landscape. Asking yourself why you employees are being required to come back to the office is a critical question. Consistency is going to be key when working to create a work environment where employees and SDRs feel comfortable working remotely and coming into the office.

The SDRs that attended the event and enjoyed going into the office listed the following scenarios that are great examples of how to instill trust and confidence in your flexible in-office culture.

  • Onboarding and training are required to be in-person based on the onboarding program and timeline. Current members of these teams are also expected to be in the office during the initial onboarding to support the new team members.
  • X-days a week in-person required on specific days unless discussed with your manager.
  • Companies structure weekly team meetings and trainings during the required days in the office. Answering that question of why we are asking employees to come in.
  • Work from anywhere with notice and discussion from your manager. *note, this is not an approval from your manager, just open communication*
  • Remote work does not impact the PTO policy
  • In-office days aren’t specific to only GTM teams or only SDR teams
  • Leadership follows the same guidance on PTO and in-office days
  • Flexible hours in-office: If you’re running late or want to leave early, this isn’t frowned upon, furthering that culture of trust.