Dropbox this week made remote work the “primary experience” for its staff, saying its new policy goes further than the popular hybrid approach. 

According to research commissioned by the file sharing platform, the COVID accelerated shift to working from home has largely been a success for knowledge workers but lost focus in either environment is costing billions.

On Tuesday Dropbox told its near 3,000 employees that remote work is now the expectation under its “virtual first” policy. The company says it will repurpose its office locations into “Dropbox Studios” for collaboration and culture projects, but the spaces “explicitly will no longer be for daily individual work”.

The company will also let employees design their own work hours outside of a “core collaboration period” between 9am and 1pm.

The policy is global but it is unclear how many staff Dropbox employs in Australia. Asked about local staff numbers, the company told Which-50 it operates as a typical SMB sized business in Australia and New Zealand.

The Virtual First policy was informed by research from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit commissioned by Dropbox which found are mostly either more or similarly focused at home compared to traditional office spaces.

The study, based on a survey of 600 US knowledge workers conducted in April and May, found loss of focus due to distractions takes up around 28 per cent of people’s work hours, equating to an estimated annual salary cost of US$34,448 per person in lost productivity. 

Last year Dropbox began expanding its file sharing product into “Workplace Spaces” which brings cloud content and local files together, into a central platform.

“This year’s sudden shift to distributed work due to the COVID-19 pandemic was abrupt and unprecedented,” said Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox. 

“Even though our product was built for this and our transition was relatively seamless, many of the things we’ve been trying to solve for as a company have intensified during this time — always-on hours, constant notifications, fragmented tools. We’re laser focused on designing products to transform how remote work happens and by living the reality of Virtual First day to day, we think we’ll better understand our customers’ needs and be well positioned to evolve our product accordingly.”


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