In the past year, remote work went from niche to mainstream. As enterprises big and small rushed to maintain business continuity amid the Covid-19 pandemic, employees were swiftly onboarded into virtual workplaces and given an indefinite time frame for their return to the office.
Episerver, a Sweden-based software company, is taking the opportunity to expand its workforce beyond borders. And one employee in Beaverton has set his sights on channeling this energy into building a cluster of employees in the Portland region.
The company makes software for content management, e-commerce and intelligence all in one platform it calls a digital experience.
I sat down with Episerver Senior Director of Strategy, Josh Schoonmaker, who is leading the charge to ensure a portion of the Episerver’s over 100 open positions get filled by fellow Oregonians.
This kind of organic effort has implications for communities looking to attract and retain tech companies, who now more than ever are investing in communities where their employees and prospective employees are clustering — even if those employees are all working remotely. Without physical offices and leases to tie many software companies to a particular area, economic development depends on new approaches to company culture and cultivating a sense of community and connection among tech professionals.
“I saw Episerver had a project manager position open in New Hampshire and immediately thought of a close friend of mine here in Portland who would be excellent for the gig. On a whim, I went to senior management and asked if they would consider hiring someone outside of the listing’s location,” said Schoonmaker. “Partial to internal referrals, they were totally on board with the idea and it got me spinning about what an amazing, untapped tech talent pool we have here.”
Although Episerver has no foreseeable plan to open a brick-and-mortar office in Oregon, Schoonmaker is working “fervently to open somewhat of a ‘virtual office’ here in Portland.”
When asked why the company would consider expanding its search into Oregon, Episerver Chief People Officer Laura Thiele mirrored Schoonmaker’s sentiments.
“We know it’s not about having our people at an Episerver office location. Instead, it’s about this mentality of joining together to create excellence,” she said.
Despite being remote, Schnoomaker said he feels connected to his coworkers. For example, an internal video program called “EPIsodes” allows people to connect.
The company is still hiring.
This is part of a regular guest column written by the Technology Association of Oregon in the Portland Business Journal.