The future of work is flexible. More than half (56%) of workers reported they are likely to switch to a hybrid or remote job for more flexibility, according to a 2022 Axios Harris poll. Businesses that adapt can attract top talent. Those who refuse to listen may soon face attrition.
“What are people telling us? What is our business telling us? What is the environment telling us?” asks Sunaina Lobo, chief human resources and people officer at financial services company Marqeta. “If we’re tone-deaf, that’s a problem.”
When tasked with defining the future of work at her organization in 2022, Lobo and her team started with three focus areas:
- Where can someone work — remotely, in person, in what locations?
- Who would we hire?
- And how would we get the work done?
Answers to those questions, in conjunction with a survey of the organization’s employees, helped the team shape strategy.
“[Employees] wanted to have more flexibility. They didn’t want to come in a defined number of days a week,” Lobo says. Now the company follows a “flexible first” policy. Employees can work remotely as frequently as they like. That includes hiring fully remote team members who work far from the organization’s three office locations. Those who live in Oakland, Australia or the U.K. can work in person as often as they please. Over 800 employees work at Marqeta.
Lobo notes that there still is a desire for in-person meeting opportunities. The desire for co-location is driven by two factors, she says: “90% of folks said they wanted to come in to collaborate. 41% of folks said that they wanted to come in to socialize.” As a result, managers are granted a travel and expense budget to bring employees together for on-site meetings in Oakland.
In a conversation with Senior Executive Media, Lobo shared how the distributed organization stays connected, as well as Marqeta’s approach to benefits. Read the edited interview below.
“When folks want to come in and have a meeting, the on-site is the new off-site right now.”Sunaina Lobo, Chief Human Resources and People Officer at Marqeta
Senior Executive Media: Why has your team taken a “hire from anywhere” approach?
Sunaina Lobo: The flexible-first model redefines where we work, who we hire and how we operate.
We’ve outlined about eight to 10 things that we’re going to commit to over the course of our flex-first model launch. One of them is to hire from anywhere, which is the remote location clause that we’ll have…on any of the roles that we advertise, with a few exceptions. We might have a few roles that need to be based in a particular area. [However,] that will be few and far between. What we’ve seen over the last two years, with the pandemic and us being initially forced to work remotely, as you’re really leveraging it and welcoming it, we’ve had access to a lot of different talent, a lot of diverse talent. One of our core principles in our people-experience strategy is around inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging. We’ve seen those numbers really rise over the last couple of years.
Senior Executive Media: Does your team have office space in certain locations that people have access to?
Sunaina Lobo: Flexibility is precisely that. You can decide where you want to work from. And we have three primary office locations: One in Oakland, which is our headquarters. We have offices in Australia and the U.K. So you can go into the office, and we have a system where you can reserve a desk.
It’s up to you. Everyone’s craving to talk to their team members and meet them face-to-face. So we want to provide spaces where people can come together to do that work. But when you need your downtime, and you want to be more flexible, you can work from home.
Senior Executive Media: Do you have any guidelines about occasional in-person, mandated meetups or activities?
Sunaina Lobo: Managers will have a budget allocated to T&E [travel and expense]. And currently, we’re looking at twice a year for folks to come into — we’re calling the whole approach Oak-sites, because we’re headquartered in Oakland. When folks want to come in and have a meeting, the on-site is the new off-site right now.
Marqeta’s Oakland office is our main headquarters, where we first established ourselves as a company. We are passionate about supporting the Oakland community and encourage employees to come to our Oakland office to learn about our history and feel connected to our roots. HQ is used for in-person collaboration, new hire orientation and larger in-person meetings or team-wide events.
Outside of Oakland, we have our Flex Studios, which allow remote employees in various cities to meet up with other Marqetans in their area and work from co-working spaces. Meetups aren’t limited to HQ but are encouraged for employees to connect with each other on a larger scale.
Senior Executive Media: Tell us about your team’s approach to benefits and how you’re staying competitive there.
Sunaina Lobo: We provide fertility services. We provide pet insurance. We love our pets at Marqeta. We have a learning stipend for folks. We have an employee stock purchase program, ESPP. We focus on mental health… We’ve partnered with Modern Health to provide free coaching and therapy sessions for our employees. We’ve recently added a wellness stipend to use both towards physical and mental well-being including, you know, fitness classes, exercise equipment, gym fees, massages… We have unlimited time off. So we don’t track that. You’re able to take time off when you need to when you need downtime in conversation with your manager.
It becomes much more about total rewards than just pure compensation. So it’s compensation. It’s benefits. It’s the culture. It’s the purpose and the mission and the vision that make Marqeta such an attractive organization for folks, not only to come into, but then to grow their career when they are with us.