“We call our approach Virtual First where most focused and solo work happens at home,” says Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. “Then because in-person collaboration is still critical for building teams and relationships and culture we’re turning our offices into collaborative spaces. We call these spaces Dropbox Studios. I feel as a company that we can only live out our mission if we’re on the leading edge of how we work ourselves.”
“We also hope this Virtual First approach will give us the best of remote and in-person work, balancing flexibility with human connection, and creating a more level playing field for everyone,” notes the Dropbox Team blog. “We’re living through a challenging time. But we believe it brings an opportunity to redesign the way we work for the better.”
Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, says that starting today, Dropbox is becoming a Virtual First company. Remote work will be the primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work:
Virtual First Reinvents Work
I don’t think anyone could have imagined how the entire world went to working from home overnight in the most traumatic and abrupt way possible. We see that the shift to distributed work is going to continue beyond when the lockdown ends. What’s interesting is the vast majority of our employees have said that they don’t want to return to the way things were before. They don’t want to lose the flexibility. They don’t want to go back to commuting. We’ve seen this with a lot of companies.
We saw this as a unique opportunity to reinvent how we work and rethink this completely. It’s a little different from some of the other approaches. We thought about how do we combine the best elements of the remote and in-person experience. We call our approach Virtual First where most focused and solo work happens at home. Then because in-person collaboration is still critical for building teams and relationships and culture we’re turning our offices into collaborative spaces. We call these spaces Dropbox Studios. This is better than going fully remote or just sort of letting people figure it out for themselves.
Fully remote cuts out the in-person experience which we think is critical to work. In a lot of the hybrid models which are saying work from home whenever you want to, we think risks the worst of both worlds situation where you don’t get the sense of community in an office and you don’t get the same level of flexibility.
Shift To Distributed Work Is Massive Opportunity
It’s a transition. Over time we’re not going to need as much physical space. That’s part of the explicit design here. Sure, there are some efficiencies on costs that result from that or result from being able to hire in lower-cost locations or allowing employees to live in lower-cost locations. But you need to solve for more than just costs. The primary factor for us is that the vast majority of our team wanted to preserve a lot of the benefits they were getting from working from home.
There are a lot of issues with remote work but most importantly our customers and all the world have shifted to working in a distributed way. We see this as massively increasing our opportunity because there are all of these pain points and ways that we can improve the remote working experience. I feel as a company that we can only do that and we can only live out our mission if we’re on the leading edge of how we work ourselves.