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When the pandemic hit, we responded quickly at Palo Alto Networks with an employee choice program we called FLEXWORK. We empowered our people to decide what they needed to work productively in this moment – while meeting their own personal needs and those of their families. That ranged from an entirely work from home model for some, to a hybrid approach for others who wanted it, allowing them to access COVID-safe offices, where local regulations allowed.
Over the last quarter, I’ve been on a mission to sit down (virtually, of course) with as many of our employees as I can to ask them how things are going, what they need, and how we can continue to support them in this new environment. The feedback has been tremendous. Colleagues told me frankly what’s helped them stay productive, and they also discussed challenges they anticipate for the long haul.
Based on these sessions and feedback we’ve gathered across the company, I’m excited to announce that we are launching the next phase of FLEXWORK to help all of our global employees stay safe, feel healthy and maintain productivity. As we shared with our employees today, the FLEXWORK program will expand to include a broad range of initiatives – adding flexibility to our benefits, learning and work from home.
- No two employees are the same in the support they need. For one, tutoring help for school-aged children might reduce the anxiety of online learning. For another, that Peloton subscription is all that’s getting them out of bed in the morning.
- In addition to our current benefits, we plan to give our employees an additional allowance of US$1,000 per year (or the equivalent outside the United States) beginning Nov. 1. Employees can use this to choose from a new menu of flexible benefits, with options including health, wellbeing and education.
- This is the first step: Over time we intend to individualize all benefits, centering them around employee choice.
- Similarly, the skills we need to stay productive range hugely. A new graduate joining the workforce remotely needs a different kind of support to a leader navigating a distributed team.
- We’re launching customizable learning paths to help employees not only meet the challenges posed by this new environment, but also flourish in their careers. With FLEXLEARN, employees select learning when and how they want it, with solutions that will continue to expand, including eLearning and discussion forums, and mentoring.
- Some of this has already begun – we launched a six-week on-demand learning series at our Sales Kick Off this month to guide our sales professionals through our products. In addition to our sales team, we’ll prioritize new employees and managers to start, expanding FLEXLEARN to cover all roles over the next 18 months.
- Initially an experiment through December 2020, we’re also extending our work from home options through July 2021.
- Long term, we see our offices as collaboration spaces rather than a daily destination: an anchor for our relationships where we have the opportunity to be together, collaborate and develop deeper bonds.
We’ve learned over this year that we can work together, wherever we are, and that productivity flourishes when we’re given choices. We’ll continue to gather feedback as we roll out these initiatives. This is about working with support, trust and flexibility. The results so far make me excited for where we can take this, together.
(On that note: our amazing employees, below.)