How India's SaaS Unicorn Switched To Hybrid Work

In the evolving landscape of modern employment, Chargebee stands out as an exemplar of adaptability and strategic evolution. The company's foray into a hybrid work model illustrates a commitment to progressive employment practices that prioritize both employee satisfaction and business outcomes. This chronicle of Chargebee's transition is not merely a tale of organizational restructuring but a beacon for future-oriented workplaces navigating similar transformations.

Chargebee's Journey to Hybrid Work Model

When the pandemic hit, like countless other companies, Chargebee transitioned to fully remote work literally overnight. On March 13, 2020, all employees across the globe began working from home. This rapid shift was extremely difficult, as the infrastructure to support virtual work was not in place. Employees struggled to find their footing in the new remote environment.

In the early months, the organization took an empathetic stance. Leadership recognized that productivity would be slow as workers adjusted. They allowed time for employees to adapt to remote collaboration and establish boundaries to avoid burnout.

Chargebee's Journey to Hybrid Work Model

Supriya Patil, the Adaptive Workplace Model strategist, shared several initial hiccups with Shyam Sundar, the CEO of GoFloaters, in this conversation. Chargebee's voyage into the hybrid work model was marked by a foresight that acknowledged the transient nature of work culture as a variable entity, subject to the dynamic forces of change. They recognized that the work model in place today may not hold the same relevance tomorrow and positioned themselves as a fluid entity ready to pivot as needed for the wellbeing of their employees and the efficacy of their operations.

It was this openness to experimentation and the recognition of global talent accessibility as a pivotal competitive advantage that fortified Chargebee's resolve in embracing a hybrid framework.

Challenges During the Transition to Hybrid Work Model

The transition to a hybrid work model is fraught with challenges, and Chargebee confronted these head-on.

After over a year of sustained remote work, Supriya shares to Shyam that Chargebee conducted a survey to gather direct employee feedback on their experiences. The goal was to understand what was working well, along with the pain points of the fully virtual model.

The survey revealed a mix of benefits and challenges. On the positive side, 74 employees shared that they enjoyed remote work overall, while 87 indicated they were equally or more productive than before.

However, challenges surfaced around collaboration and social connectivity. Here are some key issues.

  • 71% felt unable to connect personally with colleagues
  • Networking across functions suffered
  • Lack of informal conversations and "water cooler chats"
  • Remote workers felt removed from key decisions
  • Lacked visibility into how other teams operated
  • Unable to easily share opinions and weigh in

The impact of these challenges on Chargebee was profound. Each challenge required thoughtful consideration and strategic action. Chargebee's response to these challenges—placing employee feedback at the forefront, being open to iterative changes, and maintaining a high degree of adaptability—allowed them to navigate the complexities of transitioning to a hybrid work model while ensuring that their business remained robust and their workforce engaged.

How Chargebee Structured a Balanced Hybrid Model

Chargebee's approach to structuring a balanced hybrid model was methodological and responsive. They did not shy away from revisiting and reinventing their strategies to adapt to the emerging needs of their workforce. Their model was a tapestry of options, offering employees the latitude to work from home with full flexibility or to engage with colleagues in a conventional office setting.

The inclusion of co-working days was a strategic initiative to nurture bonds within teams and across the organizational spectrum. It was an intricate process of assembling the components of their work model like 'Lego blocks', methodically constructing an environment conducive to both individual focus and collective endeavor.

Chargebee landed on a hybrid approach that blended complementary work modes:

Remote Work

Continue allowing employees to work from home full-time if desired

In-Person Meetings

Enable teams to periodically meet face-to-face to collaborate on high-priority initiatives and planning

Coworking Spaces

Provide office environments available on-demand through partnerships with coworking space providers

Coworking spaces proved extremely popular, with over 500 bookings in the first month across six cities. Employees valued having the autonomy to choose whether to work remotely or utilize office space.

Importance of Organizational Culture & Employee Feedback

The culture of an organization is the lifeblood that sustains its growth and innovation. Chargebee's culture was characterized by a deep-seated inclination for ongoing experimentation informed by a steady stream of employee feedback. This culture propagated an environment where adapting to external changes without losing sight of employee experiences and business objectives was the norm.

The emphasis on adaptability and receptiveness to feedback underscored the importance Chargebee placed on cultivating an environment where employees felt valued and business needs were met with agility.

Initiatives were introduced to address concerns around loneliness and isolation felt by their distributed remote teams:

  • Virtual lunches: Teams gather remotely for informal social time
  • Coworking days: Employees in the same city meet at coworking spaces to connect in-person
  • Cultural training: Programming to maintain organizational culture virtually

Curious to hear more about their journey? Watch the video here:

Outcomes and Key Takeaways

Eighteen months since launching their hybrid program, Chargebee remains committed to adapting it based on evolving employee and business needs. While the approach will continue shifting, the core elements of the model have proven successful:

  • Employees feel heard: Continuous feedback loops ensure employee needs shape policies
  • Productivity maintained: Workers have reported no decrease in individual or team productivity
  • Enhanced access to talent: Flexibility attracts and retains top talent globally
  • Leadership buy-in: Executives walk the talk by role modeling hybrid work themselves

The key takeaways from Chargebee's hybrid work journey are:

  • Adopt an adaptable mindset, as needs will continue changing
  • Actively listen to employees and take swift action based on their input
  • Have leaders embrace and role model flexible work arrangements
  • Continuously evolve policies to meet both employee and business objectives

The strategies Chargebee employed provide a potential roadmap for leadership in any industry evaluating hybrid work. Their commitment to experimentation and focus on tangible employee needs could be applied to drive successful adoption across organizations.