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April 28, 2022
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Apprehension and excitement. Those two emotions tend to collide for folks as a major life event approaches. A wedding, a birth, or a new job typically qualify as a significant life change. At Bitwise Industries, returning to the office conjured all those feelings and then some. After two years of working from home to keep our humans–and communities–safe, we went back to the office.
And come back we did. Loud and proud. The first two weeks in the office were peppered with fun events, loud music, name badges, new desks, and the mammoth amount of energy that the human spirit musters when inspired by the connection of others.
One of our amazing humans decided to put his feelings to paper (digitally) and shared the following open letter with the company internally to let loose his fears, lean into his fervor, and express his appreciation to a company that continues to put people first. The author is Andrew Pethoud (he/him), and he is a Software Developer for Bitwise Industries. He gave us permission to print his open letter publicly. (And we can’t thank him enough.)
Apr 6, 2022
When we initially went to work from home, I found that I loved it. Some of the pros I discovered:
I loved it so much that a year into the pandemic, when talk of Return to Office (RTO) started, I talked with my manager about my hesitancy to return to the office. That conversation was such a wonderful wake-up call for me, because he reminded me of everything we’d lost by going to work from home in the first place, and so much of what we lost were the things I loved most about Bitwise.
Bitwise is the most supportive environment I’ve ever had. I’ve been supported by:
Awesome coworkers that see me as a whole person, with inherent worth that isn’t dependent on my work performance. Some of the most life-giving interactions I’ve had at Bitwise happened serendipitously while eating lunch in a common area or after being invited to take a walk together during a break.
Buildings that were designed to affirm my value. The thought and care put into the design of these beautiful buildings is astounding. When I walked into Bitwise|41 on Monday and saw that every desk in my work area is an adjustable-height standing/sitting desk, I teared up. I almost cried because Bitwise didn’t have to do that. But they did anyway because Bitwise is about humans.
Events to help foster community and connection. Other places I’ve worked never planned events for employees. It simply wasn’t a concern. But here at Bitwise, an awesome events team plans super fun events solely for the benefit of its employees, so we can connect with each other and come to see that each one of us matters and is part of this community.
But there’s far more to Bitwise than just the ways that I (and we) personally benefit. Because this supportive environment is also for all those outside who still haven’t experienced this kind of support and meaning in their workplace or community.
Now that I’ve experienced the support of the Bitwise community:
I can reach down to lift up the next person so they can experience this support and community as well. Even though I’m not super-extroverted or on the Events team, I have a part to play to create a welcoming and empathetic place for each and every person who comes through the door.
I can be a part of a thriving Bitwise ecosystem that invites new students in as valued and essential parts of that ecosystem. Right in the middle of Bitwise|41 in Fresno, surrounded by offices, there is a classroom. They could have put it in a less-prominent part of the building, but they chose to put it front-and-center, despite the fact that they could’ve made more money renting that prime spot to another business. When I see that, it tells me that students are important, and I’ll bet the students will feel that as well. But they’ll only feel that way if we, as employees working beside them, welcome them and help them feel like part of us, as they truly are.
I can become the kind of supporter and mentor that I had when I first joined. My first time in the building was to attend a Workforce Training (formerly Geekwise Academy) course. It was taught by Miles Sebesta, and immediately I felt welcome and seen and heard. I felt like I belonged here, and I’d never felt that way in any educational environment. It’s exciting to realize that I can be a Miles Sebesta, a Jacque Solano, or an Irma Olguin Jr. for the next person who discovers Bitwise.
It’s About Finding Your Worth
Because not everyone has experienced a supportive community, let alone one at their workplace. Not everyone can see the potential of getting a good, higher-wage job in their hometown. Not everyone has a comfortable work environment at home. Not everyone knows their worth yet, or is in an environment that affirms their worth. And that’s not okay. It’s the way the world is, but it’s not the way it has to be.
I’m teaching a React course for BitwiseWorkforce Training and was amazed by one of my students recently. (This story is shared with his permission.) He’s working in a warehouse for really long hours and would love to find a better job, so he signed up for my class after seeing an ad online. It was cheaper and more accessible than other options, so he signed up. Because of his inflexible work schedule, though, he’s going to miss half of our class sessions. But he’s not letting that stop him. After the first class session, he reached out to share his code and ask questions. He shared just how much he wants to get an apprenticeship.
He’s doing everything he can to get to a better place, and not only do I want to do whatever I can to help him get there, I also want to be here, in this Bitwise building, when he gets here; when he gets to this better place.
Now I’m not the most outgoing and extroverted person there is, and I know there’s going to be a whole crowd of Bitwisers cheering for him when he comes in the door, but I can do my part and so can you. A great work culture is built by the person who cheers at the door AND the person who sends an encouraging Slack message. By the event planner who organizes fun events and the team lead who organizes things so people can attend those events worry-free. By the project manager who helps each member of her team thrive and the coworker who simply assumes the best about the person sitting next to them.
So wherever you find yourself within the Bitwise ecosystem, whatever level of social engagement you’re comfortable with, you play a vital part in building a welcoming and affirming culture here; I’m excited to do that together in our Bitwise cities, in these Bitwise buildings, in-person as we’re able.
A little bit or a lot of bit, Andrew’s words rang true for everyone at Bitwise. Some of us could not wait to stand in the hall and hug our friends, others adopted a more cautious approach to being around people for the first time in two years. Either side was welcomed and right in their emotional stance. This pandemic has been hard for more reasons than staying home or going to work. And people have the right to their opinion and approach. We are all working to honor all angles.
Technically, we never left “work,” but the pandemic did force us to reimagine how to operate as our entire workforce worked remotely. However, while we were away, Bitwise Industries continued to make a positive impact. We added seven locations in seven new states, our staff grew by hundreds of full-time employees, and our total apprenticeships are fast approaching 10,000. Not to mention we did a few hundred projects along the way.
Even as we dive into the fourth week of our return to office, the comfort level continues to climb. More people are in the office and even more excitement is in the air. We know how to work hard, and we know how to have fun while we do it. When you get down to the heart of it, we take the time to listen to each other, respect each other’s positions, and find ways to accommodate the diversity of people walking the halls. Why? Because they are humans. And each one of them matters.
Want to hear more about Bitwise Industries? Whether you have a question about our corporate culture or want to optimize your business with technology, schedule a chat with us using this link.
Bitwise Industries specializes in custom software development, Contact Center-as-a-Service, and Salesforce implementation and administration. Our technology professionals have deep experience applying cutting-edge technology solutions to help business entities of all sizes navigate the technology landscape to find solutions to optimize their operations. If you’re interested in uncovering the tech possibilities available to your organization, click this link to schedule some time with one of our experts.
This post was written by Jeff Rickels, Technical Writer for Bitwise Industries. When he’s not writing, he’s really trying to visualize the fourth dimension of an analog tesseract. Currently, his writer brain is suffering from a cramp.
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