Our return-to-office experiment

Beginning May 1, employees living within a 30-mile radius of our San Francisco office will return to the office 3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
April 24, 2023
Linkedin logo iconTwitter logo iconFacebook logo icon
Download PDF
Featured in:
Return to Office

We believe culture has more to do with what we value, who we hire, and the excellence of our work than simply being in the same office.

We also believe working alongside colleagues in the same location has its advantages.

To validate this belief, we’re running an experiment.

Beginning May 1, employees living within a 30-mile radius of our San Francisco office will return to the office 3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

  • Employees will work with their managers to determine what hours to come in
  • We’ll provide lunch for every employee on these days
  • We’re improving our physical space: new workstations and phone booths, upgraded audio in both conference rooms, and better internet
  • We’ll continue to support remote work and invest in off-sites where distributed teams can meet face to face

Many companies are looking to define their future of work. Here are a few reasons why we believe this approach suits us best.

We must walk the walk. Using our own technology to understand and improve our office helps us build better products for our customers.

Trust is built and sustained most efficiently in-person. This doesn’t mean trust can’t be built and sustained remotely. However, being in-person is a better environment for productive conflict, finding common ground, and sharing enthusiasm.

There’s been proof of its value already. We’ve seen a measurable shift in how fast some teams operate since working in-person three days a week over the last couple of months. The right balance of in-person and distributed work has helped to avoid misalignment and keeps everyone working toward the same goals.

Measuring success

This experiment will run for six months to see if working in-person contributes to a better company. We’ll measure whether the initiative itself is working and if it’s having the right impact on our business. Here’s how:

  • Performance. Improved performance against company-wide metrics
  • Stickiness. The length of time people want to be in the environment we iterate on
  • Retention and Recruitment. Our ability to retain and recruit in-person team members. i.e. Does coming into the office improve the experience that Bay Area folks have at Density?

As we progress, we will elicit feedback (via a Typeform survey) from everyone – in-person and remote.

Managing change

This experiment will change how in-person and remote Denizens work with one another. Change management is a critical part of its success.

  • We announced this change via Slack one month prior to it going into effect
  • We followed that announcement later that week with a live conversation at our all-hands
  • We shared a list of FAQs to address any concerns around this change

Will we actually reverse this if it doesn’t work?

Yes. This is an experiment for a reason. We don’t want to mandate a return-to-office just for the sake of it. If, for example, a return-to-office has negative effects across the company, we’ll adjust accordingly.