Tech Culture Club: Bandwidth’s Rebecca Bottorff Gets Real About WFH Policies

In this week’s episode of Tech Culture Club sponsored by Vaco, Bandwidth’s Chief People Officer Rebecca Bottorff did not mince words when it came to one of the main topics of the hour: permanent work from home policies. 

Bottorff has worked as the Chief People Officer at Raleigh-based Bandwidth for over a decade, and in January she was named to the company’s board. She was candid with Tech Culture Club’s host and WorkDove CEO Melissa Phillippi about how Bandwidth has weathered the pandemic, lost employees who didn’t want to return to the office in any capacity, but is now doing better than ever.

Read some highlights from the episode here:

  • Initially, Bandwidth’s CEO David Morken thought hiring an HR person would actually ruin Bandwidth’s culture. While Bottorff got him to see the value of bringing her on board, she said he was right to worry. What companies fail to sometimes understand upon bringing in HR is that people are not “resources.” (2:17)
  • Along this same vein, Bottorff does not believe making prescriptive rules always makes sense for HR. One example is bereavement leave. You can’t prescribe “bereavement” and you can’t prescribe human feelings, so companies need to ensure their policies are flexible. (3:28)
  • What did Bandwidth learn through the pandemic? While many look to the pandemic as the single disruptor in bringing virtual workplaces to the fore, Bottorf said Bandwidth already experienced some shifts in their working policies when they became a global company. However, after the pandemic, because Bottorff said human nature requires in-person interactions, it was always important to require employees to be at the office in some capacity, even if the company did not dictate exactly what that looked like. (6:40)
  • In the post-Covid workplace, two groups have emerged: those who want to continue working from home permanently and those who want to be in the office together at least some of the time. Bottorff said some people are leaving companies because they crave working with teams and they still can’t go into their offices. On the other hand, Bandwidth lost some employees who didn’t want to adapt back to in-person work in any capacity. How did the company handle that? If you consider that a year later, Bandwidth’s brought on almost 400 new employees, it seems that the answer is “exceptionally well.” (27:32)

Listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe! And as always, thanks to our sponsor, Vaco.

About Suzanne Blake 308 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. Before working at GrepBeat, Suzanne attended UNC Chapel Hill, obtaining a degree in journalism and political science. Previously, she wrote for CNBC, QSR Magazine, FSR Magazine and The Daily Tar Heel.