So much has changed since the beginning of the pandemic, when we were no longer able to meet in person and the world had to pivot their workforce to remote work. Over a year and a half later, we’re slowly learning how to create connections remotely. Companies have adapted to working together through video conferencing, chat tools, and other asynchronous methods. We’ve changed the way that we work and now it’s coming to a point in time when many firms are determining what their long-term strategies will be. Will there be a return to office? And if not how will remote work?

At Breathe Life, we approached it from an employee-first perspective. While we also gathered input from management and researched what other companies around the world were doing, we knew our plan needed to be employee-led. We’ve decided to adopt what we call a Remote-First strategy. This setup allows our team to primarily work remotely from home but also gives them the option to come into our office in Montreal if they want to. The focus is on remote first while still giving our team options so that they can work whichever way is best for them.

Our Team’s Point of View

Keeping our team happy and healthy was our main priority

So, we conducted interviews with various teams and sent out a company-wide survey. 85% of Breathe Life employees were satisfied with their current remote work arrangement and 87% didn’t want to return to the office full-time. 

When we asked them for more detail about their preferences, our team talked about how the lack of commute and flexibility of schedule were aspects of remote work that had made a huge difference for them and that it had increased their productivity. However ,they did say that a lot of them have a hard time unplugging from work at the end of the day and that they didn’t feel as connected to the team because of the lack of in-person conversations. Almost the everyone noted that the “social connection” was the best part of working from the office. The answers from this survey made it pretty clear, a remote-focused strategy was the best fit and management couldn’t agree more. 

Once we had pulled together our employees’ ideas and taken into account government restrictions, it was time to take a look at our options. We knew our strategy had to be quite remote-centric, and so we outlined three possible paths. 

Possible Options

The biggest factors in our decision were the social/cultural aspect of our team as well as motivation, flexibility and the effect on our hiring pool. 

We wanted to ensure that our team had the ability to continue to interact in person, since it had such a high effect on employee happiness, but that we also knew we needed to provide a lot of virtual opportunities. On top of this we knew we needed to make sure our team had all the tools possible in order to stay motivated throughout the day, no matter their work arrangement. The flexibility of remote work was a good balance to that and was something many of our employees valued. Lastly, with a more remote-focused approach, we would have a hiring pool not limited by geography, and the ability to find the best talent possible. 

Our Decision

After weighing all of our factors we felt that our second strategy Remote-First was the most suited. This model allows us to stay flexible while still keeping the option to go to the office and get an in-person social experience. 

If employees want to go into the office, they can simply book their spot. We have small activities in the office to encourage those who can to come to spend time together. We also organize a variety of online events for the team to have fun and build those connections remotely. 

This strategy also includes times for our various teams to meet in person, with cabin getaways and go-kart days, which even our fully remote employees join. These help us all get to unwind and make the real life memories that we’ve been craving!

Every day that passes, we adapt and evolve to try to improve the strategy to the benefit of our employees. It’s an ongoing journey and we can’t wait to see where it goes.