The new workplace reality brought on by COVID-19 has thrown a lot of businesses for a loop.
But, having a strong business and culture going into the pandemic has helped California-based Backblaze not only adjust to the changing workplace environment, but keep the company moving forward in a positive direction.
Backblaze provides online computer backup and cloud storage for personal computers and businesses. The company, which is usually always hiring, believes that many of the things that it was doing prior to the pandemic has helped to keep it successful.
Employee Perks Take On A New Meaning
One of the more unique benefits offered by Backblaze is the employee equipment perk. Employees that work at the company's San Mateo headquarters are provided with an ergonomically supported workstation and then given a stipend to help customize that workstation to meet their needs.
In some cases, employees will use the stipend to purchase equipment, like a secondary workstation to have at home, or other high-efficiency tools such as iPads or smartwatches, according to Ramya Ramamoorthy, Marketing Recruitment Coordinator at Backblaze.
Ramamoorthy said the goal of the stipend is for employees to buy what they need to be comfortable and productive. The perk has taken on added importance recently when COVID-19 forced the Backblaze workforce to work from home.
"During COVID a lot of our employees have been using their employee equipment perk to purchase things like a desk and chair, computer monitor, or anything they need to set up their workstation because a lot of people didn't have that prior to COVID, because most people were working in the office," Ramamoorthy says.
Backblaze has also been flexible with the stipend based on an individual's need for their home office. For example, the company has approved portable A/C units, ellipticals for under the desk, and even a coffee maker, because the company believes all these items can keep health, comfort, and productivity up while employees are working from home.
Backblaze also provides a monthly stipend to employees who are now required to work from home, but may need help upgrading their internet connection.
Ramamoorthy says the company offered work from home flexibility prior to the pandemic, and even had some employees that worked remotely full time.
"I think the fact that we all at some point, even if it was only for a day or two, worked from home was really helpful in the transition," Ramamoorthy says.
Another perk that has taken on an added importance is the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), which allows employees unlimited phone consultations. Ramamoorthy says the company wants its employees to have access to confidential counseling services to help them through any challenges relating to work, family, stress, finances, and other personal issues."COVID is such a challenging time. We want our employees to be happy and talk to anyone if they need to," Ramamoorthy says.
Keeping The Workplace Connected
Workplace culture has always been a sense of pride for Backblaze. When employees were in the office, the company's "Fun Committee" would often plan social events to bring the workforce together. These events included happy hours, milestone celebrations, and Family Fun Days, to name a few events.
These events have gone virtual since the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn't stopped the Fun Committee from getting creative, according to Ramamoorthy.
The committee recently held storytime events for the children of employees, where actors playing Disney characters read and sang.
The company has also been holding virtual happy hours and wellness classes, including yoga, meditation, and Zumba classes.
Prior to shelter-in-place, Backblaze offered fully stocked micro-kitchens with free snacks in the office as well as free breakfast and lunch twice a week, and pets were allowed at the office.
Ramamoorthy says company leadership is constantly reassessing when going back to the office might be feasible and safe for employees.
When employees do return to the office, the company will look to resume as many workplace traditions as possible, according to Ramamoorthy.
Consistent & Steady Leadership
All five of Backblaze's founders still work at the company, and in normal circumstances it was fairly common for company leaders to walk around the office and chat with employees on a regular basis, according to Ramamoorthy. Managers would also take their employees on "walk-and-talk" meetings.
Video conferencing is being used by management to stay connected to the workforce during COVID-19. Company co-founder Brian Wilson has virtual office hours every week where he goes over interesting facts about the company and answers any questions that employees may have."Although these gestures may seem simple, our founders are bridging the gap between themselves and the rest of the employees by encouraging conversations and getting to know team members," Ramamoorthy says.
Other Interesting Facts About Backblaze
- The company offers 100% healthcare coverage, 401K retirement plans, and paid maternity/paternity leave.
- The company offers an unlimited vacation policy.
- The company employs over 160 employees.
- In addition to its headquarters in San Mateo, Backblaze has data centers in Sacramento, Phoenix, and Amsterdam.
Career Opportunities At Backblaze
Ramamoorthy says the pandemic has not impacted Backblaze's staffing, and that the company is usually always on the lookout for more people to join the team.
"We're very lucky that during this time people are still using our services, and I think it's because our service is almost essential," Ramamoorthy says. "We're very fortunate to be in this situation."
The interview process is entirely remote, and there's a coding exercise for those applying for engineering positions.
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