Upstart Post-COVID – Digital First

Upstart CEO Dave Girouard recently sent employees an updated approach of returning to work, and is now “Digital First” where most Upstarters can live and work anywhere in the U.S., reprinted here. -Editor

Hi team,

Just a few months ago, I told you about our plans to move to a hybrid work environment at Upstart, where most Upstarters (excepting front-line staff) would work on a schedule based on three days in the office and two days at home. In the time since, we’ve continued to evaluate our future, both by thinking more deeply about what matters to us at Upstart, as well as by observing and intuiting how we expect the market for talent to change in the coming years.

Today, I’m excited to tell you that we’ve decided to move to a “Digital First” model, where most Upstarters can live and work anywhere in the U.S. We continue to plan for front-line staff such as Operations to work out of Upstart offices.

What is “Digital First” at Upstart?


We’re not becoming a fully-remote company. In general, Upstarters can expect to be at one of our offices for a two to three day block each month (less frequently for Engineering and Machine Learning), the timing of which will be unique to each Upstarter and coordinated by teams. These blocks will typically run Tuesday 10AM until Thursday 4PM each week in the local time zone. An annual schedule for each Upstarter’s “onsites” will be created in advance and extended quarterly. These onsites will include a variety of activities including functional meetings, cross-functional & business vertical meetings, 1:1s, performance reviews, team building activities, and more.  

While “two to three days per month” is the general expectation, some teams may require more onsite time on a case-by-case basis (big launches, audits, earnings, ABS deals, acquisitions, etc). Our VPs will have discretion on how much additional in-office time is expected for their teams.

Please note: we are not closing our offices! All Upstarters are welcome to work from our office hubs in San Mateo or Columbus as often as desired, either as individuals or self-forming groups who just prefer the office environment. A desk will be assigned to you if you plan to work from the office more than 50% of the time.

Why are we doing this?


For a few different reasons:

1. Remote models work – We’ve shown we can work well remotely as a team. Further, we find that the arguments against remote work models tend to be presumptive and historical rather than backed by real facts or data.

2. An inevitable trend – The largest tech companies continue to take steps toward flexibility with respect to where and how employees work. The tech world feels like it’s on a multi-year transition toward “work from anywhere”. We want to be ahead of the curve.

3. Quality over quantity – We believe the benefits of in-office work can be captured in just a few well-considered days together each month. Done right, it may lead to deeper relationships and stronger execution than Upstart has ever experienced. It will take time and iterations to get this right, and we want to start now.

4. Talent wars – The scale of our ambitions, and the talent we need to aggressively pursue our goals, won’t be found in just two locations. To reach our potential, we need to tap into talent across the entire country.

I realize this is a significant change from what I communicated to you just three months ago. I can only say that the world is changing fast, and when Anna, Paul and I came to a common view on where the industry is headed, it became obvious that we needed to lead boldly rather than to follow.

Lastly, I want you to know that this is absolutely not a step toward Upstart becoming a “lifestyle” company – quite the opposite in fact. We’re doing this because we want to bring in the very best talent available across the U.S. to create a generational technology company on par with the best. We’re confident a “digital first” Upstart can execute better and move faster than at any time in our history.

Thanks,

Dave on behalf of Paul & Anna

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