The ongoing Covid-19 outbreak has put our ability to adapt as a society to the ultimate test. Over the past few months, we’ve seen daily life curtailed, whole industries upended and the greatest shift toward remote work in history.
Amid all the unknowns, one clear fact is that COVID-19 fast-tracked a long-brewing trend: the need for greater workplace flexibility. Businesses have been pushed to the brink in evolving with the times and those successfully adapting to this new state are best positioned to weather the storm.
But in an unusual time of crisis, what does adaptability look like? At LogMeIn, we’ve focused on walking a delicate tightrope, balancing the needs of our employees, customers and communities. We’ve poured resources into areas like customer support, services and engagement, while supporting and protecting our own workforce — and leading with transparency and empathy in all we do.
This has given us a strong foundation, yet it is only the start of a long evolution. In truth, adaptability means far more than just managing the immediate effects — it requires an entirely new approach and mindset. CEOs must become comfortable now in this new landscape and change the way they think about traditional working models.
Here’s a glimpse at how we’ve dealt with the impact to-date — and what’s on the horizon.
Dealing with Unprecedented Demand
I have both the privilege and challenge of leading nearly 4,000 global employees — who are now all remote — at a company founded on the very premise of remote work. Our offerings include remote collaboration, support, access, and security tools. All of those put us on the front lines of the remote working shift. Talking with our customers and partners, I’ve seen firsthand the stories of what adapting to remote work looks like for hospitals, municipalities, and schools that may have never considered a remote work environment.
Since the outbreak began, we’ve seen uncharted demand and usage from organizations of all kinds. Usage of our video conferencing and meetings solutions like GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar have spiked as much as 10x over pre-COVID norms. Usage of our remote access solutions have jumped as much as 400%, and our remote support offerings are seeing 50% week-over-week increases. Cloud telephony and unified communications have seen a 93% increase in voice calls and almost 20% increase day-over-day.
All of our customers are undergoing an intense period of evolution and learning as they settle into this new paradigm. The reality is that remote working does not just mean adopting video meetings — it’s also the IT teams working behind the scenes, customer support teams figuring out how to provide care in a distributed environment, and leaders coming to terms with a different way of guiding their people. All of these factors have forced our customers to re-evaluate all their operations — and we’re adapting in real-time to help them face this new climate.
Maintaining Our Culture with a Distributed Workforce
Managing a team remotely brings its own share of complications. Yet, continuing to build a positive (remote) work culture is one of the most valuable assets we can offer our employees and is a significant factor in driving business success. While LogMeIn employees may be a bit more practiced in “working from anywhere” given the nature of our business, we’ve learned that as a company we need to constantly adjust how we communicate, gather feedback, manage time and collaborate in a 100% distributed environment.
To support our employees, we’ve conducted internal surveys to gauge their feelings on the current working environment, their engagement levels and concerns around productivity, burnout, etc. It’s been a safe channel for employees to share concerns they might not have voiced otherwise. We are encouraging employees to step away from their desks and take a break, carve out time for children during the day, get work done at odd hours, or whatever is needed to help people survive. We’ve also introduced monthly self-care days giving everyone the day off to reset.
Flexibility and empathy are so critical right now, and speaking openly about mental health, anxiety and other challenges many of us are facing also creates a safe space for people to come forward and ask for help.
Corporate Citizenship Comes First
I firmly believe that corporations have a responsibility to not only their customers, employees and shareholders, but also the community and society at large. For LogMeIn, this has meant providing our technology, expertise and support to the front lines of the crisis, as well as to our customers, partners and the public.
Back in February, we began offering our remote work products free of charge through “Emergency Remote Work Kits” for critical providers, including healthcare organizations, municipalities/governments, educational institutions and nonprofits. Over 6,000 global organizations — from global infrastructure solutions provider Gannett Fleming to healthcare electronics company Intricon in the UK — took us up on this offer of support. Closer to home, we’ve been fortunate to help the State of Massachusetts, City of Somerville, Urban College of Boston and others stay connected during this time.
Based on these efforts, we’ve seen inspiring cases of organizations rising against the odds: Cities embracing remote work and virtual events to protect the health of their citizens, K-12 schools shifting to remote learning to connect faculty and students, healthcare organizations making the shift to telemedicine.
These practices weren’t easy for us as a business, but I believe they’re necessary to do our part in helping our community fight this battle.
The Rise of “Remote Work Business Continuity”
One major change brought on by the pandemic is that now, every organization — no matter the type — is forced to have a remote work business continuity plan going forward, so they can adapt quickly to future waves of outbreaks and disruptions. At LogMeIn, we’ve prepared through our own such plan, taking steps to ensure continuity of our services in a fully virtual environment. Since the start of the outbreak, we transitioned to a full, global work-from-home policy and will remain this way at least through September of this year — perhaps far longer.
Even though remote from each other, we’ve also taken steps to ensure our product and operations teams remain fully functional, while our capacity management teams are reviewing utilization across platforms daily and monitoring in real-time. While all our products are designed for scale, we’ve worked to increase their processing, memory and network capacity, and have mechanisms in place to ensure traffic flow across data centers worldwide. These efforts have allowed us to keep up with increased customer demand while supporting our employees and broader audiences.
Additionally, our Business Continuity Response team continues to monitor the situation in real-time and expands or shrinks our actions based on shifting global dynamics. This involves frequent communication to ensure the correct response to ongoing updates from trusted authorities, as well as cascading actions to the entire company and stakeholders. In a constantly shifting landscape, success depends on adapting the response as the situation evolves to ensure consistency and accuracy.
Enter the Work-from-Anywhere Era
All of this brings us to today. The remote work era has arrived, and it’s not going away. Despite conversations about going “back to the office,” CEOs and leaders need to accept that we’ll never truly “go back” to the way it was, and instead focus on moving forward.
Many CEOs I’ve talked to have been surprised to see the benefits of this remote working shift. One told me how shocked he was at how little disruption remote work has had on his $10 billion+ business. At LogMeIn, I’ve accepted that “butts in seats” is simply no longer a useful measurement for productivity. As just one example, we’ve seen a 25% increase in productivity as we transitioned our 340 Guatemala-based employees to their home offices for the first time. Research places the average productivity gain around 10%, meaning productivity can actually improve if we change how we think about remote work.
And productivity is just the start. The benefits of remote work range from a happier workforce to significant cost savings and even environmental and sustainability impact. In one survey we conducted with OnePoll, we found 62% of Americans would take a pay cut to work from home, nearly half (45%) say WFH would make them happier and 30% have quit their job over a stressful commute. Research shows the average US employee would save 200 hours each year if they did not have to commute — hours that could be spent for personal and family time, sleep, vacations and, of course, work. Eliminating commuting also allows employees to support a more sustainable balance with the environment. If remote-capable jobs in the U.S. would transition to remote 50% of the time, we could eliminate 54 million tons of greenhouse gas.
The implications of all this are profound. Beyond the impact on employee retention, productivity and sustainability, envision the ways remote working might re-shape our daily lives, communities and infrastructure. What new opportunities emerge when we place less emphasis on roads and mass transit, and more on high-speed connectivity and accessibility for all? How might the structure of our cities change and where could we redirect tax dollars and resources to improve the lives of citizens? What might the monetary impact be for a remote-enabled workforce living in more tax-friendly locations? The list of possibilities goes on.
The remote experiment is over and it’s time to face the findings and plot out a new course, one that transitions from just tolerating remote work to actively embracing it to realize its value.
Look to the Horizon, Not Just the Shore
In this new world, CEOs and leaders have a new responsibility to employees to help them navigate this changing environment. While the technology is there, the hardest part is the human aspect and managing, motivating and measuring differently to serve employees’ needs — both personal and professional.
Visible leadership, transparent communications and change management are critical in this revolution. When and how the crisis will end is uncertain. But what is certain is that it has redefined work, business and leadership as we know it. Workplace flexibility is now at the core. Remote work has proven itself effective and productive. And management and leadership have taken on new meaning.
This, too, shall pass — and when it does, those businesses that embrace flexible working now, emphatically support their customers, employees and communities, and prioritize agility, transparency and adaptability above all else will emerge ready to thrive on the other side.
About Bill Wagner
Appointed CEO in 2015, Bill Wagner leads LogMeIn’s long-term market strategy and day-to-day operations, while guiding the company’s vision for an increasingly connected world. He joined the company in 2013, serving as LogMeIn’s first-ever Chief Operating Officer, and played a key role in the company’s rapid growth and expansion to become one of the world’s preeminent SaaS providers. Bill was promoted to President early in 2015 and joined LogMeIn’s Board of Directors.
A cloud and technology industry veteran, Bill was previously Chief Operating Officer at Vocus, a cloud-marketing software company, where he led the sales, marketing, and services organizations. Prior to that Bill held several executive leadership roles, including Chief Marketing Officer at Vocus, as well CMO for the leading enterprise mobile device management company, Fiberlink (acquired by IBM). He began his career at AT&T.
He holds a B.A. in History from Lafayette College, and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of Business