When I last wrote on the Evernote blog, in May 2021, we were already over a year into COVID-induced remote work. In that post, I wrote of how Evernote was adapting to the “new normal” (yes, I hate that phrase too) through expanded wellness programs and by offering our teams more flexibility in terms of schedule and location. It was a logical step for us; with offices in the U.S., Chile, Japan, and India, members of the Notable Herd (as we call ourselves) were already accustomed to collaborating with colleagues in different locations and time zones. All we did was expand the possibilities.
Our plan at the time was to reopen the Evernote offices sometime over the summer. And while several of our offices are open once again—with special accommodations such as reduced capacity, mask requirements, individually packaged lunches, and hand sanitizing stations—we couldn’t predict the future; new variants of the virus have emerged, and many of our people are understandably still concerned about a return to shared physical spaces. We see this and respect it—no one at Evernote is required to work from an office if they are not comfortable doing so.
Another factor likely impacting the number of people working in a physical office is our program, Work From (Almost) Anywhere. As I described it in May, this is “a new Evernote program where U.S. employees can opt to work from just about anywhere in the country, whether or not we have a physical office nearby.” And it’s shown itself to be a huge success. While five percent of Evernoters were remote in April 2020, that number is now up to nearly 17 percent—not including team members who are assigned to an office but are currently working remotely! “Remote” has gone from our smallest ‘office’ to our 4th largest presence, and this number will likely continue to grow, as 42 percent of our U.S. hires in 2021 have been remote.
Work From (Almost) Anywhere has expanded Evernote’s pool of potential employees dramatically and allowed us to make a number of exciting hires, with more on the way. The program is here to stay; we’ve even expanded it to include our Chile-based Herd!
Putting the plan into action
Perhaps no one at Evernote exemplifies this new modality better than one of our more recent additions to the Herd, Engineering Director Paul Barham. Paul brings with him a deep wealth of knowledge, thanks to his long history of managing teams for world-leading companies like Amazon and Microsoft. As Paul puts it, “One of my skills is building and hiring great teams that are great at working together. Harmonizing people, figuring out where the gaps are, identifying people to fill those gaps, and growing them.” Exactly the kind of person we were looking for as we continue to build our own remote presence.
Although he spent many years on the U.S. west coast, these days Paul calls North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area—also known as the “Research Triangle”—home, far from any physical Evernote office. But, just like the teams he’s helping to build, that isn’t a problem thanks to Evernote’s flexible approach to remote work.
Right from the start, it was clear to Paul that Evernote has embraced remote work as an important part of its work culture. Of the interview process, he says, “It was one of the lowest-stress interviews I’ve had in a while. I couldn’t have told you if I was talking to someone here in Raleigh or someone in California; it’s invisible where people are anymore.” And in many ways, interviewing online was an even better experience for him than in person. “One of the nice things about being virtual is you don’t have to do everything in one day. We did it over two days; it’s more convenient. You’re fresh, you can take a break, get some water, check your email, and then get back to it.”
Now that he’s joined Evernote, Paul is bringing this same attitude to his own work. He’s actively engaged in recruiting team members from around the country, with a particular focus on his own neighborhood in North Carolina. “The vision is for me to build a virtual presence here. We may never have a physical office, but If we had 10 people within a 20 mile radius, for example, we could get together for a purpose.”
Raleigh is a hotbed for tech on the east coast, and there’s a deep pool of local talent to draw from. But the benefits go far beyond that. “Raleigh-Durham is a super awesome place to live and work. The balance of cost-of-living, the convergence of three major universities within 20 miles; it’s basically a mini Silicon Valley. And it’s conveniently located: three hours to the beach, three hours to the mountains, four hours to Washington… and ten hours to Disney World,” Paul says.
Paul is looking for people all over the country, building a wide geographic network to allow for 24/7 coverage for when issues arise. He says, “Some problems need to be solved right away so it’s nice to have around-the-clock attention. It would be great to have people anywhere, but actually strategically placed so that as people are going to sleep in one place, they’re handing it off to the next person.”
Adding to this is the sheer number of roles Evernote is looking to fill. We currently have 32 open positions across the company, with 22 in engineering alone. Paul sees this as a challenge as well as a huge opportunity. “The company is growing so there’s open roles everywhere: product management, customer support, marketing. On my teams we have several senior engineering roles, a senior data role; most people know we run everything on top of Google Cloud, so there’s a great opportunity to learn a lot about that infrastructure. There’s a lot of exciting roles open.”
The reality is that, with the advent of apps like Zoom, Slack, and yes, Evernote, most knowledge workers no longer need to be confined to one geographic location. As Paul says, “We can get everything we need to get done virtually with the technology we have.” But many employers, including some of the world’s largest companies, have been slow to embrace remote work and increased flexibility, with some even requiring time in a physical office.
We know remote works because of our own success. Since the start of the pandemic, Evernote has completely revamped its core app; introduced brand-new features like Home, Tasks, and Calendar; and is actively building the next generation of digital knowledge management. The company is growing and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
At Evernote, there will always be a physical workplace available to those who want it. But we’re committed to giving our people the flexibility they need to feel supported and valued; and so Work From (Almost) Anywhere will continue for the foreseeable future.
I would like to personally invite you to consider joining the Notable Herd and bringing your skills to Evernote. In addition to the programs above, we offer generous benefits and great perks, all while working on a product that helps millions of people get more done every day. Check out our careers page to find the role that’s right for you.
Finally, when I asked Paul what he would say to anyone looking for an exciting new opportunity in tech, his answer was simple: