Every few months, Whitepenny engages in dialogue (never more than 3-questions) with leading founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and taste makers that live at the intersection of brand, strategy, digital storytelling, and consumer experience.
This month, we caught up with Rob Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy at LogMeIn, a remote work technology company.
We had the chance to connect early in the pandemic on a Starboard Advisors video conference. At the time you and your team at LogMeIn were predicting WFH [work-from-home] would not be a short term pandemic induced trend, but instead a new reality for employers and the professional workforce. As we begin to open the economy more fully, what is your forecast for WFH? Has your thinking changed or been reinforced…? Care to predict the future of office work?
As you know LogMeIn’s mission is to empower the modern workforce by providing our customers and users with a portfolio that enables secure, friction free ‘work from anywhere’ capabilities. A year ago, the narrative we were building with our customers was all about enabling remote work. At the time, it was hard to predict what was actually going to happen, but one thing was for sure – a new normal was upon us.
LogMeIn conducted a series of research studies to better understand our customers’ attitudes and willingness to embrace remote work in the face of the pandemic. For many companies, the pandemic was a catalyst to change their working model altogether.
As companies and organizations of all types ‘return’ to work, the impact the pandemic has had on leaders’ and employees’ attitudes towards remote work have changed substantially. Our analysis suggests upwards of a 500% increase in the run rate of employees that self-identify as working remotely at least 1-2 days a week, and Gartner and PwC would agree; in remote worker studies conducted by the consultancies earlier this year, both employers and employees indicated an ongoing preference for remote/hybrid work.
Hence, this is “The New Normal” we are confronting in organizations of all types: while many employers/employees are eager to return to the office, many others have opted to remain either partial or full-time remote. The hybrid environment has implications for how to deliver a productive, efficient and delightful employee experience for in-person and remote employees simultaneously. Companies who can figure out how to make this model hum, and vendors who are able to deliver solutions that make hybrid work easier for their customers, will be well-positioned as “how we work” continues to evolve.
How are you and leadership at LogMeIn thinking about WFH and its impact on your ability to recruit and retain top talent?
As a software company, without hesitation, our human capital is our most valuable asset. Acquiring and retaining top talent across every functional area is critical if we are to remain a viable competitor in the rapidly evolving, dynamic end-markets in which we operate today. Our own journey towards becoming a ‘remote first’ company that supports hybrid work and, at the same time, a delightful, consistent CX for employees across all modalities, has dramatically opened the aperture for recruiting world-class talent; it has removed the real and perceived constraints of recruiting talent only in geographies where we have physical presence (e.g., offices). The end-result is we have access to a larger, more diverse pool of talent across all functional areas; to put this into perspective, we have hired over 500 employees virtually in the last year, including senior executives. In the majority of these cases, new hires have never actually physically met anyone at LogMeIn; the entire talent acquisition process is completed using some of our productivity solutions (GoToMeeting, GoToConnect) to conduct interviews, talent debriefs, and to finalize hiring decisions.
And, coming back to the topic of diversity in the workplace – like many of its peers in tech, LogMeIn has established aggressive goals, both hiring and internal talent employee career development, around building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive company. Being able to recruit and hire talent without geographical constraints of physical office locations supports our ability to achieve this aspiration.
You recently led an effort to take LogMeIn private with backing from Francisco Partners and Evergreen Coast Capital. How has removing the constant scrutiny of public markets and quarterly earnings calls allowed you to rethink strategy and make long term investments in LogMeIn’s corporate brand and product portfolio of brands?
Francisco Partners and Evergreen have been tremendous thought partners and advisers to us over the last 2 years of working together. Being removed from the pressure of continuously delivering on the short-term nature of quarterly earnings has allowed us to lay out and execute on longer-term strategic initiatives that will drive enduring value for the company. It’s not to say that we do not feel pressure and urgency as a management team to ‘win now’; our board and we as a team hold ourselves to a very high standard of performance and execution on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis. The goal of our transformation is to come out the other end as a more agile, competitive company that delivers a significantly more delightful experience to customers and employees. Being able to architect and lead this work that is creating more enduring value for the company has been one of the more challenging and rewarding experiences in my career.
Overtime: tell me about something that is important to you personally (family, philanthropy, a cause or simply something of personal interest)…
Ah, where to begin! My wife and I both work full-time (remotely for the last 16 months!), and have 3 school-aged children, so it is a busy household day-to-day. We do our best to prioritize mental and physical well-being for us and our children, first and foremost.
Outside of personal and professional well-being, I have a passion for being on the right side of the effort to close the opportunity divide in our community that exists for so many smart and talented young adults and teens that have not had the structure, support and stability in their lives to flourish and succeed in school and beyond. I am a strong proponent of education reform and have sat on the board of the amazing Boston Collegiate Charter School in Boston for almost a decade, and lend my time to other organizations in the local Boston community that seek to level the playing field for all young adults.
Rob is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy; since his arrival, he has been focused on articulating and driving the execution of the company’s organic strategy; Rob also oversees all of the company’s in-organic activities, including Mergers & Acquisitions and Business Development (Strategic Partnerships). Prior to LogMeIn, Rob served as VP of Strategy at Skillsoft, Inc., a leading global provider of cloud-based learning solutions for large and small enterprises.
He earned a B.A. in American Civilization from Middlebury College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.