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Blessing or Burden? The Remote Work Shakeup: A Q&A with Moshe Vaknin, Co-Founder and CEO of YouAppi on the WFH Phenomenon

When it comes to returning to the office, companies around the globe are rethinking their long-term work options. Companies like Google have published a survey that shows 62% of their employees want to return to the office at some point.

Creating hybrid work models and configuring offices to be more flexible will be key. We reached out to Moshe Vaknin, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of YouAppi, a mobile app marketing and retargeting technology company. YouAppi has offices around the world and is planning the return to offices in a hybrid fashion in 2021.

Q: A lot of people who would have been working from home long ago if their companies allowed it see WFH as a silver lining of the pandemic. Do you?

The WFH phenomenon is complicated as it has many advantages but also some pronounced disadvantages, as well. Prior to the pandemic, many companies were afraid to take on the risks associated with WFH. The pandemic, though, made WFH a necessity and forced companies to create a different type of relationship with employees. During the pandemic, WFH has undoubtedly been crucial and, most importantly, it’s worked! It has shown companies that you do not have to be a 100% “warm body office” to survive and even thrive. It has allowed the trust that was previously developed between company and employee to continue remotely and also shown just how resilient we humans can be by allowing us all to continue to work and collaborate together. As much as it’s been an amazing experience and acted as a lifeline throughout these dark times it has had its share of negatives. Whether it’s employee burnout, innovation, stagnation, or communication breakdowns, there are elements of WFH that we still have to work through and adjust to. That said, I think we’ll be able to find a better (happier) medium when this is all said and done and so, in that sense, WFH has definitely been a silver-lining.

Q. Has your company, YouAppi, had to shift out of offices because of the pandemic? If so, how has it worked out?

Yes, we have shifted out of offices to accommodate a hybrid model that works better for us during this time. As a global company, one of the more challenging aspects has been dealing with a pandemic that has impacted some countries more so than others. Our offices in countries that have had a more normalized return to the office have the option to work in the office as well as from home to achieve a good balance.

Q. Companies that had resisted WFH before the pandemic are looking at it differently now that they realize the potential savings. How do you weigh the intangibles of having everyone together against the quantifiable savings of a team working remotely?

There is undoubtedly a long term cost associated with WFH because of product and innovation stagnation. I wrote more on this idea here. That said, I believe the hybrid model will be the winning model. There is no denying that the savings from a 100% remote team is substantial but there is a hidden cost that also needs to be calculated. That cost is related to the missing element of face-to-face interaction and innovation when teams can’t be together. There needs to be an investment in bringing people together. With a hybrid model, the savings on lease and real estate are still there but you also benefit from the interaction and brainstorming that just doesn’t happen at the same cadence or intensity over Zoom or remotely.

Q. Many people think the WFH genie is out of the bottle, but many others lament the spontaneous interaction of teams working in the same place. What changes, if any, made during the pandemic do you think will stick when it’s finally over?

The regular Zoom meetings to connect with the team globally will definitely stick. Utilizing video conferencing has brought our company closer together during the pandemic. Once the pandemic is over, I think we will see more of the hybrid model. So, some of the changes made around remote work will definitely stick to some degree – particularly so as to give employees flexibility – but others will be adjusted so as to provide the company a path to greater innovation.

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