As companies transition to a fully remote workforce, return to the office in person or settle into a hybrid model, the question of what “local” means to an organization has never been more in flux.
A company’s identity is often at least partially defined by the city of its headquarters, absorbing regional attitudes and flavors into its culture. But when the staff becomes more geographically dispersed, does that culture then become diluted? Is it more difficult to maintain a consistent culture in a remote or hybrid environment — or does that allow the freedom to shape a more inclusive culture less bound by locational insularity? And how does an organization’s approach to “local” affect its ability to attract and retain employees?
Across the country, talent and people ops professionals are grappling with these issues, and there’s no single solution that works for all companies. What’s best for one organization may not be for another, so it’s helpful to consider a variety of approaches and make it clear to prospective job candidates how (or if) location matters.
For the month of February, Technical.ly’s reporting has explored the theme of What Local Means Now, per our editorial calendar. For some additional perspectives, we asked our Technical.ly Talent companies the following question:
How does location factor into your organization’s culture?
Here are some replies from their hiring teams, and if you like what you see, follow the links to companies’ Culture Pages to learn more and explore open roles.
Elizabeth Massing, HR Director at the Baltimore-based business services firm, said, “A lot of people wonder why we’ve never moved the organization to one bigger, more modern space — but we’ve always looked at things differently. Our unique, historic buildings bring a lot of creative beauty and pride into our day-to-day — and they remind us of the amazing things that are possible when you have real passion for your work. Losing the inspiration and influence of our physical location was hard at first, but our culture has always been about creating new ideas and adapting to everyday challenges. The strong foundation of our community has allowed us to continue to be intentional about our communications and team experiences. We’ve also taken exciting steps in innovating the way we work, including a new hybrid model and even exploring opportunities in the metaverse.”
“Audacy purposefully chose to invest in establishing its new headquarters in the heart of Philadelphia — we are located on the Schuylkill strategically between the innovation district and the core of Center City and local government. Our fantastic location provides access to the best and brightest talent, latest ideas and technology and keeps us connected to the heart of the city.”
“Our crew members value time spent in our office, so we tried to find a location that is centralized to those employees in the Philadelphia suburbs and those in the city. Since we are located outside of the city, it allows for an easier commute and ample parking. We are very conscious of commute times, so if employees are beyond 45 minutes they are welcome to work fully remote if they choose.”
“Here at Kleer, we are supporting our employees in their desire or need to work remotely. However, we believe physically coming together as a company at times is paramount to preserve our organization’s culture. The past two years have changed our view on location but haven’t changed our belief in how important it is to share a workspace with our colleagues, come together to bounce ideas around or meet at a local bowling alley to share some laughs.”
“We had a pretty sharp shift years ago when we moved from Galloway to Philadelphia. Galloway was a much less densely populated area, so we found that many of the hires we made had to be relocated to the area; this created a pretty tight bond at work because many folks didn’t have a social circle outside of work. In Philadelphia, I’ve noticed a much stronger tie to the city where we work. More employees are local to the office, have history in the area and therefore seem to have a lot more of a natural connection based on common backgrounds, not just common situations in their current life. Both situations add to company culture, however it seems like being in a more populous area gives employees a more organic bond with one another since there is more to relate to with one another.”
“While we’ve been fully remote since March of 2020, our team is still based primarily in the DMV region, where we make a point to support our local community. That being said, our team enjoys the flexibility of remote work, and the opportunities it provides for rambling road trips, cozy getaways and of course the joy of snuggling at home with pets in your pajamas. Much as some folks these days are extolling the virtues of the metaverse, at SmartLogic, we are not particularly interested in having our team spend literally all of their time staring at screens. Go on that road trip across the country, get away to the woods; as long as you can get a connection, we don’t care where you work from.”
“We will always be a Philly-based company; our soul, our heart and our efforts to improve our community are focused here. However, in order to compete for and retain top talent in this world forever changed by COVID, we’ve had to pivot our hiring model to a ‘remote-first’ strategy.
“Physical location of our team members is no longer a top consideration for us. What has become paramount is ensuring that the team feels connected. We have to be more intentional with our culture efforts and must operationalize empathy for all of our team, no matter where they live.
“Leadership strives to actively maintain reasonably similar opportunities for career development within the company, access to professional development opportunities and access to management across three time zones. We actively and consistently check in with everyone on the team to make sure that our vision of an inclusive culture is the reality that our employees are experiencing, no matter where they happen to be.
“Our team has transitioned beautifully during this period and appreciates the freedom of work location not limiting their career at Tactile. We are proof that, with careful consideration, the challenges of being a geographically dispersed team can be fully addressed and turned into strengths.”
“Tempest’s main office in Center City Philadelphia is located just blocks away from one of our largest clients, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and one of the top meeting facilities in the country, the Pennsylvania Convention Center. We are an independent company that embodies the values of our local community: independent thinking, passion and perseverance. Like all Philadelphians, Tempest understands the importance of the tourism industry to the vitality of the city we proudly call home.”
“We’ve rapidly become a hybrid company, with over 40% of our new employees in the past year residing outside of the Philadelphia Metro area. Nonetheless, Philly will always be an important part of our culture. We continue to participate in local events and contribute our talents to local organizations while our network expands across the country. We also take great pride in showing visiting Thinkers all that Philly has to offer while exploring how to engage with their local design and tech communities, too.”
Ryan Sweigart, Sr. Manager of Testing & Optimization at the fashion retail company, shared, “Our location is the foundation for our culture here at URBN, but at the same time, it does not limit our culture. Our inspiring and beautiful home office in Philadelphia embodies what defines a lot of URBN and modern Philadelphia. Vision, hard work and sheer grittiness transformed the post-industrial past of the Navy Yard into something special, URBN’s heart. This transformation could not have happened without people coming together from all over and aligning on the goal of making something great. Every area of the campus is unique and reflective of the diverse backgrounds, ideas and cultures that make up URBN. Combined, these unique spaces create a cohesive, creative and inspiring experience that brings everyone together. That is URBN.”
Want to find a new local or remote tech role? Check out all the Technical.ly Talent companies here, and learn more about their cultures and open positions.
P.S. If you’re curious about Technical.ly Talent for your own org, find more info here and connect with us.