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The Business Case for “Remote-First”

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How a distributed workforce enables better performance, stronger results and a positive culture

Imagine it’s 2 a.m. ET on July 4. A New York-based financial services company is being targeted by a cybersecurity attack. For most tech teams, that would be the end of the holiday weekend. But at CrowdStrike, it’s just another morning — business as usual, thanks to our distributed workforce and remote-first culture. It’s not 2 a.m. in London or Bangalore — and July 4 has no special significance in Bucharest or Sydney. For a remote workforce, time is truly just a construct. No matter where or when something happens, someone is ready to respond.

Although, to be clear, it’s not just “someone” who is monitoring this late-night event for a customer. It is a team of highly qualified, best-in-class technologists, engineers and intel analysts who work as a single, cohesive team, despite being spread far and wide around the world. Perhaps more importantly, our organization’s distributed workforce isn’t just remote-friendly, it’s remote-first — meaning that they rely on processes, systems and tools purpose-built to enable asynchronous work. Traditional forms of ownership, management and implementation are replaced by documentation, collaboration and dissemination. This is why I truly believe that remote engineering is the future of the technology industry. 

Put another way, it’s not just someone on the team that will do the job, but that anyone on the team has the power and knowledge, skills and expertise, and access and capabilities to do it. That’s why our clients can rest assured — even at 2 a.m. on a holiday weekend — that their critical assets are secure.

Documentation: A Critical Differentiator for Burgeoning Tech Companies

One of the most crucial enablers of a technology-driven, remote-first engineering culture is our documentation system, starting with the assumption that multiple team members will be involved in each task. For that reason, everything is written down and documented in tickets. Implementing both the processes and systems to ensure that information is disseminated throughout the entire team, as opposed to having information sit with pockets of people in the same location, is a critical enabler to success.

On its face, this is just good practice. But over time, constant attention to documentation can reveal something more curious: Because everything is written down or recorded, people seem to be more mindful about how they work. No one “throws things over the wall” or gets a project “close enough.” As a remote-first organization, understanding that each task will be handed off and documented accordingly means that close enough won’t cut it. And as a result, work is done, by and large, with a level of rigor and quality that might not be seen if the organization wasn’t remote-first. 

This translates into a huge advantage for customers. A distributed team means that customers can experience an informed and fully caffeinated network ready to deliver a best-in-class product or consult on time-sensitive intel. And like any good team, this group has a contingency plan for every scenario, enabling substitutions and swaps based on availability, expertise and past experience. Most importantly, processes and systems are designed to enable a unique and aggressive software development lifecycle and top-notch support no matter when, where or what is needed.

The Advantage for Business Development and Client Success 

Working as a remote-first organization can also uncover huge advantages for growing your business. First and foremost, the talent pool is truly global and faces no constraints. Being able to attract and retain some of the best and brightest minds in the world — because there are no restrictions attached to traditional office hours or workspaces — means that hiring the most talented people in their respective fields is easier than ever. And because employees are spread across several continents, there is no such thing as downtime, ensuring client success. 

Recruiting team members from around the world also helps to improve the diversity of the organization. In many cases, the work is as much art as it is science. There are multiple ways to approach every challenge, and each person brings a different perspective. With a more diverse team and varied perspectives, stronger results ensue. That’s good for both your business — and your customers.

Enabling a Remote-First Culture and Structure

So, with the crystal-clear benefits of a remote-first workforce, why are so many modern companies resistant? Why do these myths about traditional management and the need for “engineering pits” persist? Why do companies continue to think they’re too big or that their work is too important to allow for remote work?

For answers, I point out that CrowdStrike isn’t the only innovative, remote-friendly, growth-driven company to embrace a remote workforce model. Many well-known, global organizations present clear and compelling evidence that a distributed team isn’t just possible for a large company with a critical mission, it’s preferred

Given the nature of the technology business and cybersecurity, there is a crucial need to constantly be a step ahead of cyber threats. There is an underlying sense of urgency to be stronger, faster and smarter than the adversaries that are trying to breach our customers’ systems. Our work isn’t just high stakes — it’s the highest stakes as we work to protect customers around the world and ensure their business can operate free of interruption. And we do this while working at an unbelievable pace and incredible scale, using cutting-edge technology. In other words, if our organization can do it, any organization can — assuming they want to.  

At CrowdStrike, we have a compelling mission: to stop breaches. We “fight the bad guys” to protect our customers from potentially devastating breaches that could cripple their business and, by extension, adversely impact the everyday lives of people. That job never stops, so part of that role compels us to stay mindful about being good to our people — by instilling a sense of trust and autonomy in employees and supporting a healthy work-life balance. We recognize that a remote-first culture allows them to live and work where they want and spend their time as they see fit — especially on a holiday weekend.

Additional Resources

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Amol Kulkarni

Amol Kulkarni is a seasoned engineering executive with extensive experience building large-scale big data enterprise cloud platforms, consumer cloud services and enterprise products while knitting together world class, high performing global engineering teams. Amol is currently the Chief Product Officer for CrowdStrike- overseeing the company’s engineering organization and customer facing technology infrastructure.

 

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