Blog post hero

A Remote-First Company's Lessons in Engagement

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

While live vir­tu­al train­ing is com­mon­place in today’s post-pan­dem­ic work­ing world, it was still a new­er field when Sav­ina Perez, Co-Founder and Chief Cus­tomer Offi­cer at Hone, entered it in 2018. Hone is a leader in deploy­ing live learn­ing at scale to pow­er behav­ior change, human con­nec­tion and con­tin­u­ous devel­op­ment for peo­ple every­where. Its inno­v­a­tive approach to human skills devel­op­ment is help­ing to change work­place culture.

Sav­ina recent­ly joined us on The Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture to share Hone’s jour­ney and some lessons she’s learned along the way.

Hone’s jour­ney grew out of Savina’s own work­place jour­ney. In her pro­fes­sion­al life, she moved from indi­vid­ual con­trib­u­tor to man­ag­er, direc­tor and then to a VP posi­tion, but with­out a lot of for­mal­ized coach­ing along the way. She knows that with train­ing, she could have had the chance to receive and devel­op oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties, both inside the com­pa­nies she was work­ing with and more generally.

Hav­ing to learn on the job in a tri­al-by-fire sce­nario made Sav­ina want to build some­thing that would enable access to expe­ri­ence, guid­ance and train­ing for peo­ple at all lev­els in all kinds of orga­ni­za­tions. She and her co-founder were aligned on what that meant con­crete­ly and not­ed they would have to buy what they were sell­ing them­selves — they had to make sure they had for­mal­ized struc­tures in place to grow their own team.

One of the deci­sions Hone made ear­ly on was to com­mit to live remote train­ing. This allowed it to serve more com­pa­nies but it also cor­re­spond­ed to a deci­sion to be remote as a com­pa­ny. That deci­sion allowed it to recruit tal­ent from all over, not just what was avail­able in a giv­en region.

Making Live Remote Training Better

Sav­ina and her team knew that live remote train­ing didn’t have the best rep­u­ta­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly when train­ings were full of hun­dreds of atten­dees and a video call was more like a webi­nar than any­thing inter­ac­tive. This can lead to dis­en­gage­ment: stu­dents can be observed look­ing away, click­ing on oth­er tabs or screens. This isn’t a recipe for engage­ment or suc­cess­ful train­ing. ​“Train­ing is only as effec­tive as the engage­ment of the peo­ple going through that train­ing,” Sav­ina says.

So the first way that Hone set about mak­ing sure it would get more engage­ment was to reduce the train­ing size. Small­er class­es not only meant class­room man­age­ment would be eas­i­er but also that instruc­tors could inter­act more with their audi­ence. They could ask stu­dents more ques­tions, sep­a­rate them into break­out rooms and con­duct polls that drove con­ver­sa­tion and the direc­tion of learning.

Anoth­er aspect that Hone zeroed in on was the wide vari­ety of time zones being served. It want­ed all stu­dents to have sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences of ser­vice and atten­tive­ness. So rather than hav­ing one cen­tral­ized time zone for ques­tions and engage­ment, Hone worked to make sure that var­i­ous time zones were cov­ered by teams that were more time-zone com­pat­i­ble, lead­ing to faster response times and stu­dents feel­ing heard and valued.

In addi­tion to time-zone com­pat­i­bil­i­ty, anoth­er impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion is cul­tur­al rel­e­vance; the way a mes­sage lands or is framed in one cul­ture can be adjust­ed in oth­er cul­tures. Hone made sure its train­ings con­sid­ered cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences in how mes­sages were pre­sent­ed, while still pre­serv­ing the over­all com­pa­ny cul­ture of multi­na­tion­al companies.

Sav­ina and her team uti­lized the expe­ri­ence of high-qual­i­ty exec­u­tive coach­es to make improve­ments to live train­ing. These coach­es shared their tech­niques for what worked remote­ly and what didn’t, cre­at­ing a cur­ricu­lum and expe­ri­ence that would have stu­dents engaged and vis­i­bly lean­ing towards their screens, instead of list­less­ly scrolling through oth­er feeds to pass the time.

Building Employee Hubs

While Hone has been remote-first from day one, it’s con­tin­ued to val­ue the pow­er of in-per­son inter­ac­tions and, as such, it has employ­ee hubs in San Fran­cis­co, San Diego and New York.

A hub is exact­ly what it sounds like: a space where employ­ees can come to work togeth­er instead of work­ing at home or in sep­a­rate cowork­ing spaces. This allows for all the brain­storm­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion that comes with in-per­son work­ing but also offers the chance for teams to social­ize out­side of work, hav­ing meals or drinks togeth­er, or even attend­ing events.

Finding Advisors

As Hone has con­tin­ued to grow and fundraise, it’s want­ed to lean on the advice of oth­ers who have gone through the process before. To find advi­sors, Sav­ina start­ed by lever­ag­ing Hone’s net­work to find high-cal­iber indi­vid­u­als, then asked those peo­ple if they would be will­ing to offer feed­back on a demo of the product.

That sim­ple request not only led to feed­back but in some cas­es to engaged advi­sors who were will­ing to give their time and exper­tise to help grow Hone. These advi­sors were inspired by the prod­uct and inter­est­ed to see where and how it could grow.

Continued Growth

As Sav­ina looks to the future of the com­pa­ny, she sees a lot of val­ue in:

  • One-on-one meet­ings. It’s impor­tant to ensure that peo­ple feel heard and seen and there’s noth­ing that com­mu­ni­cates this bet­ter than indi­vid­ual meet­ings. Sav­ina also sees val­ue in skip-lev­el one-on-ones to offer on-the-ground insights that wouldn’t usu­al­ly be gleaned from ordi­nary interactions.
  • Founder lunch­es. Sav­ina offers a month­ly forum for peo­ple to ask ques­tions on any sub­ject or top­ic that inter­ests them. This offers trans­paren­cy and puts a more human face on some of the lead­er­ship team.
  • Enjoy­ing the jour­ney. While build­ing a fast-grow­ing com­pa­ny is always going to feel like mov­ing at 1,000 miles a minute, it’s impor­tant to peri­od­i­cal­ly step back and appre­ci­ate the impact that the com­pa­ny has had on its stakeholders.

Check Out the Full Episode

Learn more from our chat with Sav­ina by lis­ten­ing to our full inter­view on Apple or Spo­ti­fy.

Look­ing to build your own Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture? Fringe can help. Fringe is the num­ber one lifestyle ben­e­fits mar­ket­place. Give your peo­ple the pow­er of choice and save a ton of admin­is­tra­tive headaches by con­sol­i­dat­ing exist­ing ven­dors and pro­grams into a sim­ple, auto­mat­ed plat­form. Talk to our team to get started.

Request demo

Subscribe to the Fringe newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.