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Transforming the work experience at Qualtrics

This past year our kitchens became conference rooms, bedrooms became classrooms, and all of us had to throw out the playbook on how—and where—we do our work. At Qualtrics, when the pandemic sent employees home, we went from 25 offices to more than 3,000 “home offices” overnight. We asked everyone to dig deep, act like owners, and focus on our customers as we took the business to new heights—all while working remote. And together we did. We hired more than 1,000 people, delivered incredible innovation, and executed a very successful IPO.

We did it all by throwing out the old playbook and finding new ways to engage, collaborate, and drive results together.

We’ve always connected our strong culture to deep in-person connections among our employees—it helped Qualtrics go from our founding in the Smith family basement to being a public company today. 91% of our employees worked in one of our offices until last year when we were forced to go home, and that was a big part of our culture. But the pandemic taught us that our connections run much deeper than just being physically together. We learned a lot about resilience and flexibility, and we saw first hand that we can be connected and achieve amazing things without being physically together all the time.

Our New Work Experience

Our goal is to create a work experience that combines the best of in-person collaboration with the best of virtual work. Hybrid work will be our new normal. As we write our new playbook, we expect the majority of our employees will work from a Qualtrics office approximately 3 days a week and will spend the other days working wherever they’re happiest and most productive.

We are targeting September 1, 2021 as the reopening date for most of our offices and the kick off of our new hybrid work model. This will give us time to let us innovate and build out an incredible workplace experience across digital, hybrid, and the office.

During this time we will continue to increase capacity in our offices, inviting more employees back when it is safe to do so. We’re announcing this plan now to give our employees time for the personal adjustments they may need to make.

We’re writing our new playbook using our own experience management technology to help us connect with the hearts and minds of our employees and take action based on what they’re telling us. We wanted our Return to Work plans to be influenced by our highest performing employees and our early career team members. And we especially wanted input from women, because one of our key goals is attracting and retaining women leaders. Here’s what we heard:

  • 77% of our employees told us that flexibility in where they work matters AND that they want the option of being in the office to collaborate with colleagues on a regular basis.
  • The vast majority of employees said they want to come to a Qualtrics office a few days a week. Fewer than 5% said they didn’t want to return to a physical office at all.
  • 47% of our employees said they miss the human interactions and hallway conversations.
  • 80% of high performing women shared they were more productive working remotely, and 90% of high-performing female managers and senior leaders said they were more productive working from home than the office.

We’re here to get it right, not to be right. That’s why we’ll continue to listen and act on our employees’ feedback as part of our experience transformation. We’ll use our own technology regularly to understand how employees are thinking and feeling, and make consistent data-driven decisions based on their evolving needs and the needs of the business.

We believe in human connection in all forms. We believe that both digital and in-person human connections are critical to our culture and our success. And, as we’ve seen this year, we believe that hybrid work is the right playbook for Qualtrics.

Zig Serafin - CEO // CEO, Qualtrics

Zig Serafin is the Chief Executive Officer of Qualtrics. Zig joined Qualtrics as Chief Operating Officer in 2016 and was instrumental in the development and launch of the Qualtrics Experience Management Platform. Zig has led the rapid growth of Qualtrics to over 13,000 customers and was a leader in SAP’s 2019 acquisition of Qualtrics for $8B, the largest private enterprise software acquisition ever at the time.

Zig was previously Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and led its multi-billion dollar enterprise collaboration services business that became Microsoft Teams.

In his 17-year career at Microsoft, Zig served as Corporate Vice President of program management and design for Microsoft’s services in anticipatory computing, speech/audio/vision processing, location/language understanding, and geospatial data, leading the teams that developed Microsoft’s artificial intelligence platform, Cortana. Prior to that, Zig was President and General Manager of Microsoft’s Tellme Networks.

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