San Jose, California is synonymous with the word “trailblazer”. The self-titled “Capital of Silicon Valley” since 1988, the city has risen to be one of the most affluent in the country thanks to its status as the center of innovation and tech transformation since the 1950s. Today, the area accounts for one-third of all venture capital investment in the US, is HQ to some 30 of the Fortune 1000 companies, and employs more than a quarter of a million IT workers.
San Jose: The Origins of Modern Corporate Culture
As the birthplace of computing and the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic companies including HP, Cisco, Adobe, and PayPal, San Jose has played a role in shaping how we work. Sparking creativity, innovation, and new ways of thinking and doing things has been embedded in the culture of many San Jose-based tech leaders for decades already. As a consequence, they have been the forerunners in shaping working policies to include flexible practices such as working from home, working remotely, and working from co-working spaces. In fact, some of the biggest Bay Area companies started life in co-working spaces..
Post-COVID: A Return to Normal?
It’s a trend that naturally continues today. The pandemic has forced almost all other companies to switch to remote working practices – either in the short- or long-term – and San Jose-based companies are no exception. Currently, with employees looking to take even greater advantage of remote working than ever before and work permanently from remote locations, Silicon Valley-based companies are now navigating the return to work and looking at how their policies will help them to retain and attract top talent.
Let’s take a look at how they are faring:
Founded in 1984, Cisco’s global workforce is now over 70,000 strong. Forward-thinking in their workplace culture, Cisco has recently reinforced their commitment to hybrid working while also being an early adopter of the four-day work week. As Francine Katsoudas, executive vice-president and chief people, policy and purpose officer states: “Hybrid work allows us to redefine what’s possible by bringing out the very best of work by empowering flexibility, choice and inclusion for both employers and employees alike.” A sizable percentage of Cisco employees work remotely. There are around 800 professionals who work four days a week for 32 hours.”
According to career expert website Zippia, Paypal is ranked The Best Fortune 500 Company to work for in San Jose. Employees love the culture of passion and collaboration that drives them to create best-in-class tech solutions.
PayPal’s San Jose campus and headquarters was just finished in 2019, and comprises 6 buildings housing over 4,000 employees. Its design focuses on providing collaborative and inclusive spaces that foster innovation and wellness, much like a modern co-working space. PayPal employees could already telecommute prior to the pandemic, and take advantage of flexi-hours. The company has not yet made any announcements on its return to work policy but it is expected to come in December and to be a hybrid working model.
eCommerce giant, eBay, is undergoing transformation. Since 2019, its CEO stepped down, some 100 employees were laid off in San Jose and the company consolidated its offices in Willow Glen, San Jose. eBay has traditionally had a decentralized remote working policy, with decisions made at local and departmental level as to whether an employee could work either full- or part-time from home. Prior to the pandemic, it was common for a good part of the workforce to work at least one day a week from home.
In June 2021, new CEO Jamie Iannone welcomed staff back to eBay’s HQ saying “Today marks the first day that our San Jose office is welcoming folks back on a voluntary basis. […] As we slowly start to come back to the office, that can bring its own range of challenges and emotions. But right now, after spending my first year as CEO getting to know our community on screens, I am thrilled to start meeting our team in person.”
No further announcements on working policies have been made since.
According to Zippia, Adobe is ranked the 2nd Best Fortune 500 company to work for in San Jose. Chief People Officer and Executive Vice President, Employee Experience, Gloria Chen is at the helm of Adobe’s successful people strategy and is responsible for the company’s proactive position on its post-covid hybrid work policy.
In a blog post published by Chen in June 2021, she said: “Flexibility will be the default: Adobe employees will have the option to work from home approximately 50 percent of the time, and in the office the remainder of the time.”
Will San Jose Companies Adapt Faster?
It is surprising that a number of the stalwarts of the San Jose tech scene seem to be dragging their heels when it comes to embracing remote work practices. A consequence of this reluctance to change has been the migration of talent to other cities like Chicago , Atlanta, and Las Vegas where the cost of living is lower, and competitors are leveraging flexible working conditions to lure more talent from Silicon Valley.
In the meantime, the San Jose startup scene continues to stay light on its feet, putting more emphasis on working with creativity, passion and excellence, rather than being physically present. Upwork, Discord and Servicenow are just three young companies heavily recruiting remote-based talent, and responding to employees’ demands to choose to work from wherever suits them best: from their home, a co-working space like SaGE@Camden Ave, or any other site.
Only time will tell which cities will be the real winners and what the future of work will look like in San Jose.