Our experience evolving to a fully remote company.

About 1 year ago (March 2020) one of the most impactful events that we never saw has been starting to modify all of society and labour relations as well.

Yes, I'm speaking about the covid in March 2020, a date that was written in our minds for the rest of our lives.

I want to navigate about this year to sum up how we evolve to be a proud remote company 💪

About working remote: How was the situation before the COVID?

The main tech companies (similar to Packlink) in Spain have had a mixed culture between coming to the office and working remotely. The typical combination was 3 days in the office and 2 from home have been starting to be a standard; If you have had this perk, you have the most demanded option.

But this remote condition, in the main cases, were affecting the Engineering/development departments in particular. As we know Eng teams have a better predisposition for this type of perks.

Although, the requests for working full remote (the serious one, not the coffee talks) were close to 0. It is important to remark because the capability for the employee to get the full remote was limited and it happens for tons of stoppers.

For this reason, Before the Covid the full remote in Spain was the necessary pain for not losing Key talent or hire faster

Ok, an example:
Super-senior engineers who can work in tons of companies said: “I want to work remotely".

The importance of this type of roles could create a complicated situation and it the main cases was indirect blackmail when the company have had 2 options:

- Lost this talent and to deny the request
- Accept the remote.

Normally… we accepted and we used the disclaimer: "ey! this is only for super seniors!".
What company has a large number of super seniors? It is the same as said: this is only for you.


What were the main contra arguments or thoughts in our minds?

 

-Are we ready to manage performance remotely?

-How can I manage an employee without a physical interaction?
-What happens if the performance is not good?

-Risk prevention, contract clauses…)

-What happens with junior employees?

-Typical change-fears

-It is a one way path, we can not rever ti.

-What about the law?


In this situation… to work full remotely was an exception that was not pushed for the company and not actively demanded by the employee.

 


And more or less, it was the situation of Packlink before the Covid (keep in mind that I joined in June!).

How did Packlink live the Covid (from a remote point of view)?

We are in this small part of the world in that our business growth incredible (more than 100% YoY) for the boom of e-commerce during 2020.

It means that we were incredibly demanding with our team and all team members did an incredible job in 2020 managing a not expected growth rate.

From the Work-remote point of view it was a BIG SUCCESS case; maybe one of the best success cases that a company can see.

 

1- In normal circumstances with normal remote conditions; the lock-down arrived and the revenue started to increase so fast.

2- The team, working at 100% from home in the lock down, increases the performances incredibly. The revenue and the delivery and all departments went up with a great increase in all KPI’s related to performance: revenue/sales agent, responses/Customer service, roadmaps implementation / Tech team,.. (pensar algunas concretas)

3- The managers were really comfortable and the work is being done. Comfortable means that they can handle this but of course, this is a challenge! Each manager find the best solutions for they particularly situation.


 

I always remember when I asked Ben (Our CEO) in my 2 day and he said something like: I am happy working from home, it’s up to you as HR.

WOW… STOP STOP STOP

Never, forever and ever the CEO has been delegated on HR a huge topic as this in 3 minutes conversation. (yes here I fell in love of packlink haha).

It means a lot of things (that we have a great CEO hahaha). For example, it means that the company has not seen a difference between working remotely or not or at least they have not a strong preference from the company-performance point of view.

In addition, it means that the management is working comfortably (personally in their individual situation) and with their teams as well.


Why our CEO said this?

Maybe forr the open mindset to this topic in relation with his experiences but on the other hand for the big company success during 2020 established a clear confidence line on this way of working.


yes, the confidence of the management here is the key

How did we implement the policy?


The magic work here is: THE REMOTE POLICY.
In my first weeks some employees asked me about it (I supposed that I said something like: “That’s a huge topic! We are on it” or something like that hahaha).

I have had a real influence from WordPress and their remote culture after years of reading ma.tt

For this reason it was a PERFECT AND HILARIOUS OPPORTUNITY AS HR DIRECTOR for creating a great and to be proud about our remote approach.

We started shared with key team members some thoughts to be checked and they will be the based line of our remote culture:

 

-We don’t want full remote employees: To feel the packlink culture we need to involve all team members at least in a Quarter meeting with a strong culture and social impact. You need to see that your company is bigger than your workstation.


- We have employees with big houses and tons of room for work comfortably and we have another that maybe are sharing a flat in Madrid in 50 square meters. They need to have the opportunity for coming to the office if they want.

-The best option is to choose if you want to come or not.

-The performance needs to be protected: If any team member is not performing well (or we think that it can happen) the manager needs tools to limitate the remote quota and to see if the remote work is affecting or not.
- We need to compensate for the expenses working from home and it can not be calculated individually.

-To reduce the tax complexity; our team needs to be based in Spain in the first interaction.

After a couple of months working on it we defined our remote policy and it was shared and submitted to be signed for all our employees:



Let me to explain it in 2 parts:

 

 

Remote policy: Internal processes


We defined different remote levels that we can adequate for each personal situation according to the following scheme:

L.png

 

Remote Policy M:
This is 3 days working from home and 2 days working from the office.


L.png

 

Remote Policy L:
You may work 3 days per month from the office.


L.png

 

Remote Policy: XL
You may work 3 days per quarter from the office.


Why we have different levels?🎚️


Firstly, all of these levels are really remote.

We considered that each person has the experience, skills, and background to be able to work and to grow in a different situation.
Maybe in some tasks, we need more support and more sessions working with our manager or senior peers for not feeling frustrated or to increase our skills faster.

In addition, some person could want or need to come to the office for a personal preference or a personal

How did we decided the levels per employee?


Easy, We have considered all the teams in the Remote Policy: L (after Covid!). It means that the main part of the company who leaves near to the office will come 3 days per month.

With the exceptions of the Sales and Customer Service team they are in the Remote Policy: XL and some people living outside of Madrid who directly are in the Remote Policy: XL

Could a level change?🔄

This is on of the key questions, right?. Yes, it could. Any employee can request to increase her/his remote level at any moment if it is needed.

It is important to take into consideration that the average is 3 days per month for people who is working in Madrid. We want to guarantee the correct onside interaction level when the personal conciliation is not affected.

Also, If we detect that the performance is affected any manager can request to reduce the remote level in order to increase the interactions with this person.
It always will be a part of bigger performance expectations plan If it is possible (Ex: If the employee is living in Sevilla the manager can’t request the Remote Policy: M but the manager could request to move from XL to L)

According to the spanish law!

We signed a document with all employees taking into consideration the spanish regulation. It includes

 

1- We are working more than 30% remote (in all levels) it means that 100% employees of Packlink are remote workers!

2- We included data privacy protection for the employee because we are seeing their home and personal space.

3- We included a risk assessment in our policy. And there are this typical clauses that we don’t like too much but we need to include as:
We can check if you are working or not (laptop login for example) , inventories by the help desk team… and other legal stuff.


4-Reimbursement of 50€a month. It means that we could ask for your invoices and expenses related to your activities working from home in case of an audit (it is reimbursement!).

We tried to explain it very clearly!

 


This can be perceived to much technical, but we are not a company of 10!

The costs! How it is affecting our budget and compensation plans:

It affects us in 2 different ways and we could implement it at the end of the year because it was a part of the new year budget.

1. Expenses for working from home

We decided that all the team will have 50€ net per month as a part of the compensation plan.


With the exception of the newcomers (peole joinded in the 1,5 months before the remote policy delivery) because they know that the company is remote and they could take it into consideration.

Nowadays, all our offers are including, separately to the salary, the remote compensation.
For example:
Salary: 40.000€
Remote Compensation: On top of your salary, you will have 50€ net /month according to the remote-policy.

Pretty clear, right??


2.Expenses for going to the office

We have defined a simple way to understand if the expenses for going to the office are compensated or not:


If we have at least one of the following conditions from your home to the office:

More than 110 km’s more than 2h from home to the office by public transport. We will be compensated and packlink will pay your commute, accommodation, and meal expenses according to the travel company policy.

In the other scenario we supposed that this is a normal commute expense and it will be not cover…

We are not a data scientist(it is a rough estimation) but we are happy to evaluate each specific situation!! It is important to remark that it required a preallocating exercise in the budget as well.

The total amount is a considerable increase of company costs but this is a clear great investment as well because we are “acquiring” a lot of things:

 

Increasing employees satisfaction

Increasing the work-life balance

Defining a clear path after the covid mobility restriction

We are creating a great perk
From hiring: our cake will be
big nowadays!

The role of the HR team here needs to demonstrate it with data and facts

 


What are the Next Steps?

In relation to the policy delivered:

We are really freaks of data, data and data. For this reason, We want to measure a lot of KPI’s and we are preparing the systems for doing this, some of them are:

 

- Satisfaction. In our pulse survey, we will ask for the implementation process of the remote policy and for the policy itself.

- Trips to the office: Does it make sense? We want to see the regularity and the satisfaction of the employee and manager.
- We want to know if this idea to be more social and enhance the culture of the team in these trips make sense or not.

- Are we hiring more and faster?

- We have a cross-department team working on our company.

- We need to support the team for working so much better sync and asynchronous (it needs another post!)

- We need to involve and spread the packlink culture in this context. Giving more space for virtual coffees, taking care of the social part in cross-department projects.

- Take care of our tools: Now employees are interacting less with HR and more with our tools and processes, they need to be an expression of our culture and mindset. We need to thinking more than ever in the UX applied to the employee!

 

 

The Game changers:

Finally and the next clear step is that we are preparing the company to hire abroad! This is our next challenge and we are starting for Engineering!
It can "normal" bus as a company we have not experience and we are rookies here!


It could change the company structure and way of work and for assure that this new stage enanhe our company culture--> It's time for HR!


Thanks for reading!

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