Office is Optional for BenchSci Employees as Hypergrowth Machine Learning Startup Embraces Being Remote-first
To enable team members to reach the highest levels of productivity, fulfillment, engagement, and happiness, Toronto-based hypergrowth machine learning startup BenchSci has announced it is now a remote-first company.
Working remotely for the past 18 months has not hindered the company’s growth and success; BenchSci has doubled in size since the start of the pandemic. Almost half of the people hired during this time don’t live in the Greater Toronto Area, and the company now has 38% of team members beyond commuting distance to the office.
Being remote-first allows for a flexible, equitable work experience that accommodates the differing needs of every team member. It increases the opportunity for the best talent worldwide to assist the company in pursuing its ambitious and high-impact mission. It also promotes inclusion and equity by removing physical and geographic barriers to high-quality jobs, and increasing flexibility for caregivers.
“The world is slowly reopening, and the workplace has changed,” says Liran Belenzon, CEO, BenchSci. “We want to create the best work environment possible while continuing to exponentially improve life-saving R&D. Part of building a great culture comes from trusting team members to know what works best for them and providing them with the resources and flexibility to do so.”
BenchSci’s new remote-first work policy reinforces its culture of trust and transparency. It includes quarterly homecomings for all staff to come together to collaborate and connect (adhering to all pandemic-related public health guidance), a budget for home office improvements, core hours incorporating common time zones, and a newly-renovated collaboration space called BenchSci Commons that can be used as much or as little as suits team members’ needs.
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In addition, to address some of the limitations of video teleconferencing, the company has given every employee an Oculus Quest 2 and begun experimenting with virtual reality-based meetings and events.
“Before the pandemic, we were an office-only culture,” says Belenzon. “We learned so much from the lockdown and in the past 18 months we have achieved phenomenal success. Our team is more productive than ever and gained so much flexibility and better professional and personal life integration. Going back to exactly how it was before would be ignoring everything we learned. We are a learning company and this is the best workplace policy for our team.”
Belenzon points out that fighting the trend to remote-first work is like fighting gravity. “I don’t understand CEOs of software companies that don’t adopt this, instead forcing their teams to come to the office,” he says. “For me, it says they don’t trust them. At BenchSci we lead and make decisions from a place of trust.”