When South Jersey tech company Miles Technologies moved into its flashy new headquarters in June 2018, it more than doubled the space it had for its employees to work.
The old HQ was 28,000 square feet, while the new Lumberton building Miles owned measured at more than 168,000 square feet, with Miles occupying 63,000 square feet. And with a full-size basketball court, ping pong tables, desks built with Lego-style blocks and a giant lunchroom with TVs, the managed IT services company was primed to emulate the campus culture found at leading tech companies like Google and Facebook. Employees were able to have fun and still be productive in a space that was designed to be a second home, Marketing Manager Scott Hammer said. The large space and activity helped the company reimagine how teams could work together.
That changed when the pandemic hit in March 2020.
“All of a sudden a company that spent past two years settling in was upended in a day,” Hammer told Technical.ly. “In mid-March, the state of New Jersey instituted rules about social distancing. We went remote on a Friday and went home.”
The following Monday, Miles’ nearly 300 onsite employees all began working from home, a practice still happening today. Some employees that work with purchasing or need to be onsite still work in person from time to time, but most of the company’s employees are remote.
Initially, many Miles employees anticipated the shift to remote work to be disruptive. As at many companies, concerns arose about maintaining productivity and accountability. Hammer said those concerns quickly dissipated because of its use of Striven, a business software that it produces in house and markets to other businesses. Striven began as an accounting module before helping professionals with hiring, customers and later project management.
Hammer believes businesses will increasingly rely on cloud-based remote business software like it into the future.
“Everyone in our office was working off of one management software,” he said. “When we all went remote, nothing really changed in process. We were doing the same job in the same way, just not in office. I find it very ironic and amusing that a company like ours built a thing to manage business from anywhere, even though we never had a remote culture.”
Hammer hasn’t been back at Miles’ headquarters since March 2020 and still doesn’t know when he will return. In the meantime, he said his company — along with countless others — have had to think about what the future of their offices and its culture will look like.
After the pandemic is over, Miles’ expansive offices will be used more as a tool, and an option for Miles employees to consider. With forever-remote work becoming more of a possibility, the company is looking more toward a hybrid model and hopes to recruit worldwide in an effort to attract the best talent available. Hiring employees from different cultural backgrounds, for instance, can lend to a diversity that will only make the company more successful, Hammer said.
Meanwhile, Miles has grown its full-time staff from 268 to 347 since April 1, 2020, marking a 30% increase in its workforce. And in the past year, he said, the company saw its highest revenue in its 23-year history. For this tech company, at least, it’s a sign that culture change can be good for business.Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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