The Brex CEO on the right ways to think about telecommuting

Henrique Dubugras, founder and CEO of Brex.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | fake images

While some employees are eager to return to the office and many others simply want to choose between in-person work and remote work, companies continue to grapple with the return-to-work strategy that works best for them.

Some companies are moving toward permanent virtual models and enjoying lower office costs and greater access to talented employees, but most are planning some kind of hybrid work, according to a recent CNBC survey of top executives in many sectors of the economy. .

Brex, a financial services platform that allows companies to manage finances and lines of credit that ranked No. 6 on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list, recently announced its move to a virtual model first while ditching its physical headquarters.

Henrique Dubugras, who is the co-CEO and co-founder of Brex along with Pedro Franceschi, joined CNBC’s Technology Executive Council Forum on Wednesday to offer insight into how his company, and others, can benefit from remote working.

1. A virtual water cooler or happy hour is not a solution

At the beginning of the pandemic, companies were eager to replicate office experiences for employees with things like virtual happy hours, online coffee meetings, and Zoom networking events, with the goal of mitigating feelings of separation.

But a beer has to be shared in person, and people have Zoom fatigue, Dubugras said. If companies want to be remote, Dubugras said they should learn that there are some in-person office experiences that cannot be replicated in the virtual space, and instead companies should model that differently.

“There are many experiences that were designed to be on the Internet,” Dubugras said. “For example, games, so sometimes when we do team-bonding events, we just play an online game all together.”

Looking at how people connected online before the pandemic, Dubugras said there are ways that people can feel love and connection through virtual spaces similar to how children feel connected with their favorite influencers on YouTube or other platforms. social networks. Virtual connections can be strengthened through frequent communication and Vlog-style channels where Brex managers provide recorded videos of themselves to employees, he says.

“There are a lot of things that the internet solved before, about how to do things that we should find and copy, rather than trying to bring what we did in the office to an online version,” Dubugras said.

2. Don’t base your return to work plan on what other companies are doing.

Tech companies are leading new models of work, but not all in the same way.

Twitter said at the beginning of the pandemic that employees can work from home “forever.”

Salesforce says “the past is gone” and 60% of employees may be remote, up from 20% before the pandemic.

Dropbox is moving into a virtual space first, and Google, which wants to bring employees back, has faced resistance from workers.

An important caveat about going back to work is that every company is different and there is no one universal plan that works for everyone. ‚ÄúThere is no one size fits all. I think depending on your business, your product, your culture, the remote [work] it may or may not be a good option, “said Dubugras.” Ask, ‘How does this work for my business?’ No, ‘How does remote control work for all businesses?’ “

While every return-to-work plan has its ups and downs, and no plan comes without downsides, Dubugras said a company’s job is to weigh the pros and cons of each option.

3. The biggest advantage of remote control is access to talent.

Although there are downsides to remote working, doors have been opened across the country, and even around the world, for people to work virtually for companies where they would otherwise never have the opportunity to work without an option. remote.

“Hiring people globally is the main advantage of remote control,” said Dubugras. “We are willing to accept the disadvantages of remote control because we can hire people wherever they are.”

The option to work remotely allows companies to hire anywhere from the largest cities to the most rural parts of the world, and companies can not only hire the best applicant in the area, but also the best applicant in the world .

“Our best people can live their best lives and live wherever they want, regardless of where our offices are,” said Dubugras. “It is an amazing benefit.”

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