Sapling was invited to present at HR INSPIRE 2020, an online conference from focused on how to rethink the People Experience in a global and remote world. 

The session was led by Andy Crebar, the CEO of Sapling, and Heather Doshay, an experienced people leader for Webflow, one of the largest distributed teams. 

The live webcast was attended by over 300 people operations leaders across the world and focused on thinking deliberately about creating people experiences for remote and distributed teams. 

End of office centricity and the new Experience Design

The future of work is shifting towards companies that are fueled by remote, fully global teams.

For People professionals, this trend has a massive impact on a vital piece of the HR puzzle: the employee experience.

Josh Bersin recently shared, “I believe the biggest change is not just the role of technology, it’s the need to focus on “Experience Design” in our work…. We have to design and deliver “experiences” for our employees, just like we do for customers.”

Many companies today are struggling to bridge this gap, meaning they may not be delivering on their employee experience promise. 


  • 70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week
  • 16% of all companies are fully remote and another 40% are hybrid
  • Businesses save up to $11,000 per person per year by allowing team members to work from home

From an office centric world where People Experience can ‘just happen’ to now, the need for experiences to be designed has never been greater.

Learning from those before us

As many companies approach the new and remote world, it's important to be clear on what the different stages of “remote” actually are.

GitLab has an incredible set of resources for companies embracing remote work and at Sapling, we are Hybrid-Remote, a setup that is currently more common than all-remote as it is easier for large, established companies to implement. 

We recently highlighted a lot of these learnings in Sapling’s virtual company offsite best practices a step-by-step guide on how to optimize the virtual offsite experience. .

The good news is that this future of remote and global work isn't entirely new and we can learn from those before us. 

At Sapling, we’re lucky enough to work with many remote work trailblazers like Couchbase, Webflow, Zapier, InVision, and DigitalOcean. We’ve been extremely honored to partner with companies that have revolutionized the remote working world, and we’re grateful for the learnings we’ve had helping them succeed internationally at scale. 

The key thing we’ve found is that each company is itself a unique puzzle, and the focus should be on providing flexible tools that allow people teams to build the best companies.

For us, that means providing people leaders with flexible tools that adapt to their processes and free them up to focus on their greatest resource: their people. 

Our product achieves this through offering highly customizable workflows, profile templates, and email engines all powered by Smart Assignment. By organizing each of these features by Location/Department/Employment status, we are able to build unique rules across employee cohorts to create a custom experience for every employee around the globe. 

What 60% of People Leaders Need

A great insight from one of our polls during the session reiterates that People Teams need better tools and still struggle to get leadership buy-in.

We asked the audience, “what would help you the most in your remote work strategy?”

Over 60% of People Leaders found the key challenge to improving their internal processes was a need for better tools and more leadership buy-in. 

From this, there were many incredible tools mentioned including 15Five, Cultureamp, Lattice, Greenhouse, Sapling, Donut, Bravely, and Loom

Heather was also kind enough to share a post-conference Loom recording walking through her favorite tools.

Clear and Transparent Company Rituals 

With the need to think deliberately about creating People Experiences for remote workers, a later poll asked: “how has your team adapted its elements of Rituals, L&D, Recognition and Benefits in recent months?”

It was encouraging to see many attendees had new plans in progress or rolled out, but surprisingly a lot of companies hadn’t made any changes.

Some of the audience team members recounted that this was the most impactful part of the webcast. 

One participant noted, “I had not thought about how to modify our rituals, benefits, etc. This is good food for thought, if we decide to allow some or all of our workforce to work remotely on a full time or regular basis.”

Where to from here

The world is evolving faster than ever. COVID-19 may have accelerated a few decades of change into a matter of weeks as companies rapidly shift their thinking and ability to design People Experiences for a global and remote future.

Understanding changing employee preferences for remote work is the first step; continuing to design and deliver adapted “experiences,” just like we do for customers, is where we go from here.

Sometimes crises present opportunities for rapid change. We hope the frameworks shared here can be helpful to learn from the people leaders that have tried and tested methods in this new world of work.


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What we learned at HR INSPIRE 2020