2020 Changed These Seattle Tech Leaders’ Opinions on Remote Work

Two Seattle leaders had their preconceived notions around remote work challenged in 2020. Here’s how their opinions — and companies — have changed.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Dec. 14, 2020
2020 Changed These Seattle Tech Leaders’ Opinions on Remote Work
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Mariah Reilly has worked in tech for over a decade and has seen firsthand how successful companies and teams with remote employees can be.

However, even Reilly, who is senior director of channel management at Donuts, wondered how her company would handle the transition to working entirely remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even in tech, my assumption was that communication channels would break down, creative thinking and brainstorming would suffer, and camaraderie would be lost,” Reilly said.

While remote workers and teams aren’t uncommon in tech, fully remote workforces are the exception, not the norm. As such, it’s not surprising that Reilly was hesitant about her company going fully remote, or that her hesitation was shared by another Seattle tech leader, Karina Mounivong, the VP of global HR at Nintex

“A preconceived notion I had about remote work was that productivity would decrease, employee engagement would be low and the organization would feel the negative effects of teams who weren’t able to collaborate in-person,” Mounivong said.

Both Reilly and Mounivong had their preconceived notions around remote work challenged in 2020. Here’s how their opinions — and companies — have changed.

 

Karina Mounivong
VP, Global HR • Nintex

Nintex’s no-code automation is used by companies like Amazon, Zoom and Nationwide to digitize workflows and automate processes. VP of Global HR Karina Mounivong said company leadership initially worried that going remote would cause employee engagement and productivity to drop off. However, the Nintex team has been so successful working remotely that Mounivong said the company is developing a hybrid work model to implement once the pandemic is over.

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

Prior to COVID-19, the majority of the Nintex team worked in-office and remote work was the exception, reserved for cases that had been pre-approved by team managers. A fairly common preconceived notion that I had about remote work — as did many leaders at Nintex — was that productivity would decrease, our employee engagement would be low and the organization would feel the negative effects of teams who weren’t able to collaborate in-person.
 

We have been pleasantly surprised to see our productivity increase and our employee engagement scores go up.


How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce, and what does this mean for the future of your business?

The Nintex workforce has been fully remote during COVID-19, and we have been pleasantly surprised to see our productivity increase and our employee engagement scores go up — and even surpass our pre-pandemic levels of engagement! Employees appreciate the flexibility remote work brings and have taken full advantage of technology to continue working innovatively and efficiently while finding creative ways to stay connected to their colleagues. 

With this new development, Nintex is working on a “future of work” hybrid model that will empower employees to be successful while working remotely, along with working from the office when leaders identify that as a requirement.

 

Mariah Reilly
Sr. Director, Channel Management • Identity Digital Inc.

Companies looking for unique, descriptive and SEO-friendly domain names turn to Donuts, whose portfolio of domains runs from A to Z, or more specifically from .academy to .zone. Mariah Reilly, senior director of channel management, told Built In Seattle that while she’s no stranger to remote work, she did have some reservations about the entire Donuts team working from home. However, Reilly said she has been pleasantly surprised to see that communication, collaboration and performance have all increased since the company went remote.

 

What’s a preconceived notion you had about remote work prior to COVID-19?

I’ve seen remote employees contribute and work successfully for a number of years, and working from a home or satellite office was a welcome concept pre-pandemic. I liked that talent could come from a wider and more diverse pool. That said, I doubted that a company made up of full-time remote workers could be successful. Even in tech, my assumption was that communication channels would break down, creative thinking and brainstorming would suffer, and camaraderie would be lost.
 

My perception is that employees are more focused, productive and seemingly on the same page than ever before.


How has your opinion shifted since transitioning to a fully or partially remote workforce, and what does this mean for the future of your business?

I have been pleasantly surprised to see that going entirely remote has not dampened creative thinking, slowed our ability to deliver products to our customers or caused communication to deteriorate, although more effort is required. My perception is that employees are more focused, productive and seemingly on the same page than ever before. I do think that people will want to go back to the office post-pandemic, but I also think there will be an expectation from employees that a full-time presence in the office should be optional or flexible to account for things such as commute hours, uninterrupted productivity, family care, etc.

All responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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