Our vision, our future, is accelerating brands and channels to compete for tomorrow’s ecommerce customer. 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic created unique challenges and opportunities for us to really focus on this vision. It gave us renewed energy to win. To win for our brands. To win for our customers. To win for our team. And to win for our communities.
Now we turn that energy into our long-term focus; focus on how we can reach more ecommerce channels, increase the brands who partner with us, and increase the speed we can deliver to customers. We’ll achieve this by building the best team and culture for Spreetail’s success.
Culture is not just a word at Spreetail, it is engrained into how we operate every single day. One tenant of our culture is all about collaboration: a commitment to building deep, personal relationships. Part of accomplishing our big goals is building a team bond that has been strengthened by preserving through difficult situations together such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March of 2020, Spreetailers transitioned from the Austin, Lincoln, and Omaha offices to working from home to stay safe and healthy as the pandemic spread across the country. While collaboration is key to Spreetail’s success, productivity didn’t slow down as teams began working remotely. Team members adapted to the new environment and supported one another and shared helpful tactics to ensure a smooth transition. Our team was able to band together and focus on how to be successful in this unprecedented time. In 2020, we experienced a 90% increase in sales as the ecommerce industry grew, causing us to add many new Spreetailers to our team. Most of these team members have interviewed, onboarded, and begun their new careers with Spreetail in a virtual environment.
As we grew over the last year, we spent a lot of time understanding how our work has shifted and changed. We recognize and miss the value of in-person time and the ability to collaborate. Virtually, yes, we can schedule meetings, but there’s a lot of value of getting people together in a room to solve problems.
To focus on continuing to build our culture of relationships, team members will start rolling back to working from our offices in January 2022. The first group to return will be volunteers who will help us gather feedback and learn how to set new routines and effectively use meeting space. We estimate between April and May of 2022 we will have all team members fully transitioned back into the office. The major reason and what we are working towards is understanding both our growth and the need to add more office space. We’ve been working on our office buildout plans and estimating construction timelines, including doubling our office space in Omaha.
As much as we have learned about how to work remotely, we also have to re-learn how to work in-person. Our goal from now until August is to remain in a safe work from home environment but allow team members who need to be in the office to be able to do so. From August to December our big focus is to get teams together. Many Spreetailers are new and most likely haven’t met with their teams in-person over the last year and a half. We want to create an environment that will help teams connect and learn in-person dynamics. We’ll be working with teams to plan half-days to get a tour of the office, have a team lunch, and conduct sessions on culture such as office expectations, mantra or strengths-based discussions, and team development workshops.
We know we are balancing a lot in our virtual world. Over the last year we spent a lot of time understanding how our work has shifted and changed. We recognize that when we are at home there’s a value of time to focus, multitask, and manage personal and life commitments a little bit differently. We also know that there's something to be said about creating consistency and managing expectations to ensure we're effectively collaborating. Assessing these factors led us to launch our flex days opportunity. Team members within our office locations will now have the option to work from home Mondays and Fridays, with Tuesday - Thursday serving as in office days to contribute to increased collaboration and team building. We'll be providing team members with both at home and in office tech setups to ensure they're well equipped to manage the needs of their roles. We're confident this flex opportunity will allow our teams to best focus on their personal and work needs, while creating the space for them to collaborate and pursue our goals.
We reviewed every role and the components that were critical for success, such as team collaboration, time in different tasks, group meeting time, and time with external partners. Through this research, we discovered our Software & Technology teams are best situated to thrive in a remote environment.
“The decision to transition the Software & Technology team to remote will create a more flexible environment for engineers who are solving our most complex problems. We want to be recognized nationally for our technology talent, not just locally.” - Jake Schmitt, Chief Technology Officer
As ecommerce and Spreetail continue to scale, there’s a high demand for technology talent. Software and Technology team members can now work 100% remotely from the six states we operate in (Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas). The option to be office-based (with flex days on Monday and Friday) or remote is available for Spreetailers residing in Austin, Lincoln, or Omaha. We are excited about the expansion of recruiting top talent from these six states, allowing us to reach thousands of additional candidates.
As Spreetailers transition to remote and flex days in 2022, we will continue to learn and provide best practices for communicating as a team remotely and across time zones but ultimately, each team will find what works for them based on their needs. Being intentional about our team culture is going to be more important than ever before. For us to operate at our best, we must continue to build and foster relationships within our team and beyond. I'm looking forward to partnering with team members throughout these transitions to continue to build one of the fastest growing ecommerce companies in history.