Dear Sophie: When can I apply for my US work permit?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My husband just accepted a job in Silicon Valley. His new employer will be sponsoring him for an E-3 visa.

I would like to continue working after we move to the United States. I understand I can get a work permit with the E-3 visa for spouses.

How soon can I apply for my U.S. work permit?

— Adaptive Aussie

Dear Adaptive,

Thanks for your question and congrats on the new employment opportunities for both you and your husband! Listen to my podcast episode on work permits, or Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) as they are officially known, to find out who qualifies for one, when you can apply for one, what you can do with one and how long it takes to get one.

You can apply for a work permit once you arrive in the United States in E-3 status (a professional work visa for Australians in the U.S.). It’s not possible to apply for a work permit at the consulate in Sydney when you apply for your E-3 visas. To do that, you will need to submit Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and supporting documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If USCIS approves your application, you will not be able to start working until you receive the physical, plastic EAD card, which proves to prospective employers that you are authorized to work in the United States.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

How long will it take?

USCIS is currently backlogged and is taking about 11 months to process EAD applications. Since any mistakes or omissions in an EAD application can create further delays, I recommend hiring an immigration attorney to submit the application on your behalf. An immigration attorney can also discuss other options that could enable you to start working sooner.

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #labor, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #sports, #tc, #verified-experts

3 ways to become a better manager in the work-from-home era

The average employee will prefer to work from home nearly half the time after the pandemic is over. Employees are also demanding flexible schedules and remote work, and as a result, executives are planning to reduce office space by 30%. The data surrounding the global shift to remote work is piling up and our post-pandemic professional landscape is starting to take shape.

Are you ready to lead a digital workforce?

The seismic shift in how we work requires a reassessment of how we manage, even for — or especially for — seasoned leaders. How do you wrangle a highly educated, decentralized workforce and rally them around a singular mission? How do you become a better people manager amid a workplace sea change?

As a seasoned CMO who has managed global workforces, I’ve finally hit my stride as a remote-only manager, all while navigating a global pandemic and riding my company’s unprecedented growth. What’s the secret sauce to managing today’s remote workforce? Strengthen your team by creating authentic workplace transparency, using numbers as a universal language and providing meaning behind your team’s work.

The biggest secret behind my management practices? It’s possible to produce more success with less stress. Consider these three ways I’ve strengthened my team and, in turn, become a more nimble manager.

Focus your team on meaningful work

A Harvard Business Review study found that knowledge workers are more fulfilled when they understand what organizations are trying to achieve and how their work lifts up their workplaces as a whole. In other words, meaning motivates your digital workforce.

On the surface, communicating your organization’s overarching mission, its reason for being, seems like a simple enough task. But I challenge you to ask each one of your team members to define your organization’s mission. If you have 10 employees, I bet you get nine or 10 different answers.

Instead of expecting employees to find your organization’s mission and vision on PowerPoint decks or on the website’s “about us” page, use the proven objectives and key results (OKRs) methodology.

The next piece of the puzzle helps you raise the visibility around why your employees are doing what they’re doing every day and creates a culture of motivation through meaning. Collaborate with your employees to create individual OKRs that identify goals and metrics for achievement. These OKRs should detail exactly how each employee contributes to the organization’s success and become the impetus behind everything an employee does.

I tell my workforce to review their OKRs every morning to help them focus on what’s important. It is like daily meditation for your business. So I didn’t worry when my director of marketing recently moved and had a baby. Because we had worked together to set thoughtful OKRs, my team member’s objectives and results were well defined. She knew where to focus her limited time. No distractions from the cacophony of requests. No anxiety over letting down her team. Just peace of mind that she was focusing on the right tasks.

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #remote-work, #talent, #tc, #work-from-home

Dear Sophie: Can I still get a green card through marriage if I’m divorcing?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I received a conditional green card after my wife and I got married in 2019. Recently, we have made the difficult decision to end our marriage. I want to continue living and working in the United States.

Is it still possible for me to complete my green card based on my marriage through the I-751 process or do I need to do something else, like ask my employer to sponsor me for a work visa?

— Better to Have Loved and Lost

Dear Better,

I’m sorry to hear your marriage didn’t work out. Rest assured, you can still proceed with getting a full-fledged green card even though you and your wife are divorcing. Listen to my recent podcast with Anita Koumriqian, my law partner, in which we discuss the removal of conditions on permanent residence for people who got two-year green cards through marriage.

As you know, since you were married for less than two years when you applied for your green card through marriage, you were issued a conditional green card that is only valid for two years rather than a 10-year green card. The purpose of the I-751 is to show that the couple entered into a genuine, good faith marriage. Usually, couples must file an I-751 petition together. However, an individual may file a petition without a spouse if any of the following apply:

  • If the marriage ended through annulment or divorce.
  • If the U.S. citizen spouse died.
  • If the conditional resident (and/or children) was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty.

If your divorce is not yet finalized and you don’t have a family law attorney yet, I do recommend that you work with a family law attorney, who is necessary to help streamline the process. I also recommend consulting an immigration attorney as soon as possible to prepare the I-751 filing since it can get tricky for an individual in divorce proceedings. Both need to work together and in parallel to ensure that everything goes smoothly for you with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

When to file to remove conditions on permanent residence

The I-751 should be filed within the 90-day period before your conditional green card is set to expire. I recommend filing as soon as you can within that window. Keep in mind that, if you file your I-751 petition too early, it may be returned to you. And if you file it after your conditional green card expires, you not only face having to leave the U.S., but USCIS could also deny your petition if you fail to provide a compelling reason. If you are in this situation, definitely let your immigration attorney know.

#column, #diversity, #divorce, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #immigration, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #talent, #tc, #united-states, #verified-experts

4 common mistakes startups make when setting pay for hybrid workers

Leaders and senior management everywhere are grappling with how (or not) to bring employees back to the office. It’s a high-stakes decision: Fifty-eight percent of workers said they will look for new jobs if they can’t work remotely, according to a FlexJobs survey.

An often overlooked and/or cobbled-together piece of this puzzle is compensation. And inside the transition to hybrid work, compensation planning encapsulates a cacophony of nuances for founders, people leaders and compensation experts.

Here are just a few new questions this group needs to answer:

  • Do we adjust salaries for people who have moved to different regions?
  • Do we alter pay for employees performing the same role, with the same title, when one is remote and the other is in-office?
  • How can we educate geographies that aren’t as familiar with the value of equity as is, say, Silicon Valley?

As we’ve seen in recent weeks, the answers to these questions are different for us all. Google employees who work from home may experience a pay cut. Adobe workers can self-select what days they work remotely, up to 50% of the time, with no salary impact. Meanwhile, LinkedIn just loosened its policy, allowing employees to work from home permanently.

The first step in developing a compensation plan — regardless of your company’s stance on distributed work — is determining how your team’s pay compares with the market.

Regardless of your startup’s stance on the topic, having a consistent compensation philosophy that you apply to your evolving workplace has a unicorn-sized influence on important growth metrics: attracting and keeping top talent, as well as creating a culture of trust and performance.

As the CEO of a compensation intelligence company, I see four common mistakes that startups commit when compensation planning that hinder successful remote or hybrid workforces. Here are the ways to sidestep them.

1. Using subpar data for competitive analysis

The first step in developing a compensation plan — regardless of your company’s stance on distributed work — is determining how your team’s pay compares with the market. To understand market rates, you need one thing: data.

If you’re moving from a strictly office-based environment to a hybrid model, 2019 data won’t work. While it’s tempting to search for free data online or use survey data that your company has purchased in the past, both approaches have risks. Traditional compensation survey information is stale, limited and often not verified. And spreadsheets are hyperprone to error and security risks because they involve manual, and often super laborious, work.

In a world that’s still reacting to a pandemic, only fresh, real-time, accurate benchmarks and pay ranges are sufficient. Both must reflect aggregated information about what others in your segment are paying employees — by experience level, role, department, geography, industry and company size.

For example, technology startups need different data sources than global financial services organizations. Both need information geared toward companies of a similar size and stage. Software engineer salaries need to reflect those of similar roles, with nuances for those that specialize in machine learning, data science, etc.

You’d be shocked how often self-reported data on free websites is inaccurate and unverified. As you seek a credible intelligence source for your compensation data, a data source must:

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #human-resource-management, #labor, #startups, #talent, #tc, #technology-startups

Dear Sophie: Tips on EB-1A and EB-2 NIW?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I’m on an H-1B living and working in the U.S. I want to apply for a green card on my own. I’m concerned about only relying on my current employer and I want to be able to easily change jobs or create a startup. I’ve been looking at the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW.

I’m not sure if I would qualify for an EB-1A, but since I was born in India, I face a much longer wait for an EB-2 NIW. Any tips on how to proceed?

— Inventive from India

Dear Inventive,

Thanks for your question. Take a listen to my podcast episode in which I discuss the latest tech immigration news and delve into the benefits and requirements of the EB-1A green card for individuals of extraordinary ability and the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) green card, which as you know are the main employment-based green cards for which individuals can self-sponsor.

I recommend you consult an experienced immigration attorney who can evaluate your abilities and accomplishments and assess your prospects for each green card. After an initial consultation with new clients, we’re able to provide a lot more detail to folks on their specific options since these are such individualized pathways.

There are some groups of people who might need every advantage. Those can include folks born in India or China, who might face long green card backlogs. Another such group includes people whose skills and accomplishments might be borderline for an EB-1A green card for extraordinary ability. In some cases — if eligible and to have every opportunity for green card security and to mitigate wait times as much as possible — our clients choose to file both the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW in parallel.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

The EB-1A is the highest priority green card and the standard for qualifying is much higher than for the EB-2 NIW. And that means an EB-1A is typically quicker to get, which is particularly the case now: According to the August 2021 Visa Bulletin, there is no wait for an EB-1A green card regardless of country of birth, while only individuals who were born in India and have a priority date of June 1, 2011 or earlier can proceed with their EB-2 NIW petition.

Please remember that the Visa Bulletin fluctuates and changes every month. Also, the EB-1A is currently eligible for premium processing on the I-140. Although there is talk to add this option to the EB-2 NIW one day, premium processing is not available for EB-2 NIW I-140s yet.

#column, #diversity, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #h-1b-visa, #immigration, #immigration-law, #labor, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #verified-experts

More companies should shift to a work-from-home model

Nearly three in 10 employees (29%) would quit their job if they were told they were no longer allowed to work remotely, according to a recent survey. In addition, a recent Harvard Business Study found that “companies that let their workers decide where and when to do their jobs — whether in another city or in the middle of the night — increase employee productivity, reduce turnover and lower organizational costs.”

Over the past 18 months, while instituting a remote work model, our turnover rate at Insightly was the lowest in company history and an internal survey found happiness levels to be twice as high from the previous year. This in the midst of a major pandemic, social movement, forest fires and a disruptive election — all happening at the same time.

As long as your employees are available when your customers are in need and goals are consistently met, 9 to 5 no longer needs to be a thing.

On a larger, global scale, employers from companies around the world are coming to the same realization: You don’t need an office to be productive and employees are happier working from home.

The next logical step is, at the same time, a majorly disruptive one and a 180-degree shift toward how companies have operated for over 100 years — the transition from in-person headquarters to a remote, work-from-anywhere model. In line with this shift, we’ve foregone our 40,000-square-foot Soma office space and employees are able to work from anywhere in the United States while keeping the same salary.

There will no doubt be challenges, and there already have been. But with these challenges also arises immense opportunity. Here are a few battle-tested tips on how to maintain productivity while delivering flexibility with this new work model:

Reallocate overhead savings

Let employees choose where they live. Allowing this option will better their lives and make for happy, engaged employees. Overhead costs, especially in large cities such as San Francisco, are the largest operating expense for most companies. Take this large sum of money and invest in employee happiness. You don’t need thousands of square feet in office space to be successful.

That massive overhead cost you just got rid of? Use this toward more meaningful employee experiences that will enhance their lives.

#column, #crm, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #employment, #human-resource-management, #personnel, #remote-work, #remote-working, #startups, #united-states

Dear Sophie: Can I hire an engineer whose green card is being sponsored by another company?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I want to extend an offer to an engineer who has been working in the U.S. on an H-1B for almost five years. Her current employer is sponsoring her for an EB-2 green card, and our startup wants to hire her as a senior engineer.

What happens to her green card process? Can we take it over?

— Recruiting in Richmond

Dear Recruiting,

Congrats on finding the right candidate for your role. Your startup’s ability to take over the EB-2 green card process for this candidate — or whether you have to start the green card process from the beginning — depends on where she is in the green card process and whether the position you are offering is similar to her current role.

Take a listen to my podcast in which my colleague, Gilberto Orozco Jr., an associate attorney at my firm, and I discuss the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act — or AC21 — including “green card portability.”

Enacted in 2000, AC21 gives international talent in certain situations the flexibility to change jobs during the green card process and the ability to extend an H-1B visa beyond the six-year limit to avoid having to leave the United States while waiting for a green card. I recommend discussing your situation and goals with an experienced immigration attorney to determine your options.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

The process for EB-2 green cards

As I mentioned earlier, what happens to the green card process if your candidate changes jobs depends on where she is in the EB-2 green card process. There are two types of EB-2 green cards that have slightly different processes:

The EB-2 green card requires an employer sponsor and has a three-step process:

  1. Getting PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.
  2. Submitting a green card petition (Form I-140) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval.
  3. Getting USCIS approval after filing an adjustment of status to permanent residence application (Form I-485), which can be filed along with Form I-140 depending on whether an EB-2 green card number is available based on the candidate’s country of birth, and being interviewed by a USCIS officer or obtaining a green card abroad through consular processing and the State Department.

#column, #dear-sophie, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #h-1b-visa, #hiring, #immigration, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #talent, #tc, #u-s-department-of-labor

Avoid these common financial mistakes so your startup doesn’t die on the vine

The startup world can be a rollercoaster. While investment continues to pour in — with both founders and investors looking for the next unicorn — the reality is that 90% of startups fail, with over half of those going under in the first three years.

I’ve founded two companies that I grew and sold (Mezi and Dhingana). I encountered many of the issues that new founders face, learned on the job, and thankfully persevered. Using the knowledge that I acquired in my previous companies, I’ve founded a third — Zeni — to try and help founders make more informed, sustainable financial decisions.

For many founders, a transformative idea and initial outside investment doesn’t translate into understanding the underlying financial complexities of running a business.

Whether you’re just wrapping your seed round, or on to Series B, avoiding these common issues is the best way to ensure that you’re set on solid ground and free to focus on your vision.

Why most startups fail

Startups go under for a variety of reasons. Some fail to achieve product-market fit in a scalable way. Many others simply run out of money. While the above two reasons are often cited as the two primary reasons for startup failure, they’re also related. If you don’t solve a market problem and don’t generate customers, you’re eventually going to run out of money.

Unfortunately, many of the startups that fail shouldn’t. They’re led by bright entrepreneurs with a great idea. But for many founders, a transformative idea and initial outside investment doesn’t translate into understanding the underlying financial complexities of running a business.

When you break down the various complexities founders face in understanding business finances, there are three primary hurdles they face:

  1. Fragmentation of financial systems.
  2. Time-consuming manual tasks.
  3. Lack of real-time financial insights.

All of the above issues put increased workload and strain on founders, which can lead to burnout. Owners, on average, spend around 40% of their working hours on tasks like hiring, HR and payroll. While hiring is integral to a founders’ day-to-day role, other administrative tasks related to finance, HR and payroll distract founders from focusing on their overall vision and goals.

The good news is that by being aware of the above issues, you can solve them and eliminate the consequences of burnout, distraction and, ultimately, failure. Let’s talk about how.

Consolidate fragmentation

The financial decision-making and tasks of most startups start and stop with the founder. This means that bookkeeping, bill paying, invoicing, financial projections, employee payments and taxes all run into a bottleneck. Even worse, each of these functions requires another employee, vendor or third-party expert — finance firms, admins, CFOs, CPA firms — each using its own software and applications to accomplish their goals.

Each of these parties is reporting back up to the founder, who is then in charge of making sense of it all and disseminating the information to the entities that need it. This means that not only is everything slower, but often things fall through the cracks, as communication can become a serious issue.

Worse still, this creates cash flow problems, as bills go unpaid, invoices go unsent, and important financial documents are delayed. I’ve seen revenue go unreported and invoices unsent and uncollectable due to the fragmentation-bottleneck system most founders experience.

#artificial-intelligence, #column, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-how-to, #entrepreneurship, #finance, #startup-company, #startups, #tc

What’s the board’s role in an early-stage startup?

What’s the board’s role in an early-stage startup?

Startup founders frequently ask me about the role of a board of directors. A board can be a crucial asset in an early-stage startup.

Here’s a framework for how it can help drive success at your company: Strategy, People, Image, Finance and Systems for compliance, or “SPIFS.”

What is a board of directors, anyway?

The board of directors helps with governance of the company. U.S. law requires that any company have one, though does not require how big it should be. By generic definition, the board of directors consists of elected individuals that represent shareholders. It is the governing body that provides company oversight and helps set business policy and strategy.

On a more practical level and in a startup environment, the board can aid in creating a successful business strategy, putting together the right management team, developing branding, building good financial habits, and avoiding legal and compliance issues. The needs and composition of the board will change depending on the startup’s stage, management and financing history (e.g., if there are preferred shareholders, investors that require a board seat and more).

Investors often ask founders about their board: It says a lot about their character, their judgment and their willingness to be challenged.

Investors often ask founders about their board for two reasons. First, it says a lot about their character, their judgment and their willingness to be challenged. The founder can typically choose who is on their board (through careful selection of investors and advisers) and negotiate a board structure they prefer.

Typically, a healthy board will have a good balance between common shareholders, preferred shareholders and independents. It also helps investors and analysts understand who will ask critical questions and give important advice to the company’s executive management, especially when the going gets tough (it inevitably does!).

What exactly can a board help you do?

After 20 years as a venture capitalist and board member, I boiled down the value of a board into five main pieces under the acronym SPIFS: Strategy, People, Image, Finance and Systems for compliance.

SPIFS matrix that describes the role a board of directors plays in an early stage startup

Image Credits: Dell Technologies Capital

Strategy

Setting business strategy is one of the main ways that the board helps founders, especially if it’s their first time running a business. It is a valuable sounding board for validating that you have taken a sober account of the market and have the right plan to develop your product and acquire customers.

The board should ask these questions when guiding founders through setting strategy:

You can’t afford to make poor decisions about incentive stock options

One of the big reasons you’re giving 110% of your talent and effort to your private company is because you’re hoping to eventually cash in on all those vested incentive stock options (ISOs) that have been sitting in some account, waiting for the day your company goes public.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t dream of reaping an options windfall and using it to retire early, buy a house, pay off their college loans, travel around the world or become a full-time philanthropist?

Unfortunately, when it comes to figuring out how to cash in their stock awards, most employees are on their own.

Their employers can’t always provide the answers they need — especially when the questions relate to personal finances. Most companies admit they need to be better at explaining how ISOs work in general, but they can’t legally work one-on-one with employees to help them exercise and sell shares the right way.

Most companies admit they need to be better at explaining how ISOs work in general, but they can’t legally work one-on-one with employees to help them exercise and sell shares the right way.

That’s why, when the time is right, many employees actively look for help from a qualified fiduciary financial adviser who can walk these could-be “options millionaires” through various cash-in scenarios.

Here’s a real-life example (using a pseudonym).

Kurt is a 50-year-old VP of product management at a healthcare startup that just went public. Over his three years with the company, Kurt had amassed 350,000 ISOs worth approximately $6 million. Unlike many options millionaires, he didn’t intend to cash in everything and retire early. He planned to stay with the firm but wanted to liquidate enough ISOs to pay for a vacation home and add greater diversification to his investment portfolio. This presented significant tax risks that Kurt wasn’t aware of.

If Kurt exercised his ISOs and sold the shares before a year had passed, his profits would be characterized as short-term capital gains, which are taxed as ordinary income.

To illustrate the potential tax implications of this action, we created a hypothetical scenario that showed if Kurt exercised all of his ISOs and sold the shares immediately, he would incur approximately $6 million in ordinary income, which would push him into the top tax bracket and put him on the hook for almost $3 million in combined federal and state taxes.

#capital-gains-tax, #column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #finance, #opinion, #options, #startups, #stock, #tc

Bring your own environment: The future of work

The world has just witnessed one of the fastest work transformations in history. COVID-19 saw businesses send people home en masse, leaning on technology to maintain business as usual. Working from home, once the exception rather than the rule, became responsible for two-thirds of economic activity as an estimated 1.1 billion people around the world were forced to perform their daily jobs remotely, up from 350 million in 2019.

As we explain in the 2021 Accenture Technology Vision report, this transformation is just the beginning. Looking ahead, where and how people work will be much more flexible concepts with the potential to bring benefits to employees and employers alike. In fact, 87% of executives Accenture surveyed believe that the remote workforce opens up the market for difficult-to-find talent.

These benefits will only be fully realized if enterprises adopt a strategic approach to the future of work. Think back to a few years ago, when the bring your own device (BYOD) trend was in vogue. Faced with demand from workers to use their own devices in the enterprise setting, businesses had to think through new policies and controls to support this model.

Employers must now do the same thing, but on a much bigger scale. BYOD has become “BYOE”: Employees are bringing their entire environments to work. These environments include a broader range of worker-owned tech (smart speakers, home networks, gaming consoles, security cameras and more) and their work setting. One person may have a home office set up in a shed in their garden, another may be working from the kitchen table, surrounded by their family.

Businesses need to accept that their employees’ environments are a permanent part of their enterprise and adjust them accordingly.

The workplace reimagined

Looking ahead, the BYOE-style of work won’t be limited to employees’ homes. People will be free to work from anywhere, and they will want to work in the environment that’s best for them — whether that’s the office, home or a hybrid mix of the two. This is something leaders must accommodate rather than fight.

Indeed, leaders can rethink the purpose of working at the warehouses, depots, factories, offices, labs and other locations that make up their businesses. They should consider carefully when it makes sense for people to be at certain sites and with certain people. They will thereby be able to optimize their operations.

A few years from now, the organizations that succeed will be the ones that resisted the urge to race everyone back to the office and instead rethought how their workforce operates. They will have put in place a robust strategy for change that includes the adoption of technology enablers like the cloud, AI, IoT and XR. But more importantly, this will outline how their reimagined workforce model can support and enable their people and how this can be reflected in the corporate culture.

Enabling the new

The first step toward this future requires gaining visibility into the employee experience. With BYOE, the employee experience has never been more important, but it has also never been harder to monitor. Workplace analytics will therefore be critical to understanding how employees’ environments are impacting their work and finding insights that can improve their experience and productivity.

Security is another primary enabler. Businesses need to accept that their employees’ environments are a permanent part of their enterprise and adjust them accordingly. IT security teams will have to do more than ensure that a worker’s laptop is secured with the latest firewall patches, and consider the worker’s network security and the security of all devices linked to that network, such as baby monitors and smart TVs.

Once the technology, analytics and security foundations are in place, businesses will be better positioned to unlock the full value of BYOE: operating model transformation. When companies go virtual-first, they have new opportunities to integrate emerging technologies into the workforce. With a virtual-first BYOE strategy, for example, businesses can have a warehouse full of robots doing the physical work, coupled with offsite employees safely monitoring and overseeing strategy.

Cultural change is key

Success in BYOE will also come down to culture. The enterprise must accept that the employee environment is now part of the “workplace” and accommodate people’s needs. This will be a large, slow-to-emerge cultural shift, but there will be quick wins, too.

Take the disconnect between in-person and remote workers as an example. So much is currently tied to geography, but the future will be all about balance. Workers in different roles will benefit from the work environment best suited to their needs. However, without careful implementation, the approach could lead to a divided workforce, where in-office and remote workers struggle to collaborate. Quora is already looking to overcome this challenge by requiring all employees who are attending meetings, regardless of whether they’re home or in the office, to appear on their own video screen.

Reimagining the organization for BYOE is a moving target and best practices are still emerging. But one thing is already clear: You can’t afford to wait. To attract the best talent and keep employees engaged, start planning now.

#accenture, #column, #consulting, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #firewall, #labor, #mobile-device-management, #opinion, #quora, #remote-work, #remote-working, #telecommunications, #telecommuting, #working-remotely

Dear Sophie: Should we sponsor international hires for H-1B transfers and green cards? 

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My startup is desperately recruiting, and we see a lot of engineering candidates on H-1Bs. They’re looking for H-1B transfers and green cards. What should we do?

— Baffled in the Bay Area

Dear Baffled,

Yes, you should absolutely sponsor international talent for green cards! Listen to my podcast in which I discuss how to hire international professionals who are already in the United States by transferring their H-1B visa and using green cards as a benefit to attract and retain them.

The severe shortage of tech talent currently in the U.S. is prompting professionals to negotiate better compensation packages, and companies are increasingly using green card sponsorship as a benefit to attract and retain international talent.

Green card sponsorship as a benefit

Companies need to offer green card sponsorship to remain competitive. In fact, Envoy’s 2021 Immigration Trends Report found that 74% of employers said they have sponsored an individual for permanent residence (a green card), which is the highest percentage in the six years Envoy has asked this question in its annual survey. Rather than waiting until the last possible moment to sponsor an H-1B visa holder for a green card, 58% of employers say they are starting the process with the employee’s first year at the company on an H-1B visa. Most employers — 96% — said that sourcing international talent is important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Sponsoring international talent for a green card is a way for companies to show they invest in and prioritize their employees and are willing to make a long-term commitment to a prospective employee. Employers can further distinguish themselves by offering to cover expenses for green card applications for a spouse and children, as well as a work permit application for a spouse.

Employers should also consider paying for an employee’s marriage-based green card as a third-party payor, particularly since marriage-based green cards take about one-third of the time and one-third of the investment compared to employment-based green cards. What’s more, most marriage-based green cards are not subject to annual quotas.

H-1B transfers are most common right now

Because most U.S. embassies and consulates abroad remain closed for routine visa processing due to COVID-19, most employers are hiring international talent who are already in the United States on an H-1B sponsored by another employer. In these situations, an employer must file for an H-1B transfer for the prospective employee. Take a look at a previous Dear Sophie column for more details on the H-1B transfer process.

The questions that employers ask me most often about the H-1B transfer process include:

#column, #dear-sophie, #diversity, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #h-1b, #h-1b-visa, #labor, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #tc, #u-s-department-of-labor, #verified-experts

Dear Sophie: Should we look to Canada to retain international talent?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I handle people ops as a consultant at several different tech startups. Many have employees on OPT or STEM OPT who didn’t get selected in this year’s H-1B lottery.

The companies want to retain these individuals, but they’re running out of options. Some companies will try again in next year’s H-1B lottery, even though they face long odds, particularly if the H-1B lottery becomes a wage-based selection process next year.

Others are looking into O-1A visas, but find that many employees don’t yet have the experience to meet the qualifications. Should we look at Canada?

— Specialist in Silicon Valley

Dear Specialist,

That’s what we’re all about — finding creative immigration solutions to help U.S. employers attract and retain international talent and help international talent reach their dreams of living and working in the United States.

I’ve written a lot on how U.S. tech startups can keep their international team members in the United States. One strategy is to help the startup employees become qualified for O-1As. Another is to obtain unlimited H-1B visas without the lottery through nonprofit programs affiliated with universities. Sometimes candidates return to school for master’s degrees that offer a work option called CPT, or curricular practical training.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

But sometimes, companies end up deciding to move some of their international talent to Canada to work remotely. Recently, Marc Pavlopoulos and I discussed how to help U.S. employers and international talent on my podcast. Through his two companies, Syndesus and Path to Canada, Pavlopoulos helps both U.S. tech employers and international tech talent when their employees or they themselves run out of immigration options in the United States. He most often assists U.S. tech employers when their current or prospective employees are not selected in the H-1B lottery.

Through Syndesus, a Canada-based remote employer — also known as a professional employment organization (PEO) — Pavlopoulos helps U.S. employers retain international tech workers who either no longer have visa or green card options that will enable them to remain in the United States or those who were born in India and are fed up by the decades-long wait for a U.S. green card. U.S. employers that don’t have an office in Canada can relocate these workers to Canada with the help of Syndesus, which employs these tech workers on behalf of the U.S. company, sponsoring them for a Canadian Global Talent Stream work visa.

Syndesus also helps U.S. tech startups without a presence in Canada find Canadian tech workers and employ them on the startup’s behalf. As an employer of record, Syndesus handles payroll, HR, healthcare, stock options and any issues related to Canadian employment law.

Pavlopoulos’ other company, Path to Canada, currently focuses on connecting international engineers and other tech talent working in the U.S. — including those whose OPT or STEM OPT has run out — who cannot remain in the U.S. find employment in Canada, either at a Canadian company or at the Canadian office of a U.S. company. These employees get a Global Talent Stream work visa and eventually permanent residence in Canada. Pavlopoulos intends to expand Path to Canada to help tech talent from around the world live and work in Canada.

#canada, #column, #diversity, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-united-states, #green-card, #h-1b-visa, #immigration-law, #labor, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #verified-experts

How to navigate an acquisition without alienating your current employees

Many watchers expected an uptick in merger and acquisition activity when the world began to emerge from the pandemic in 2021, but the current spike is record-breaking, topping $2.4 trillion in the first half of the year. That’s more than a 150% increase over last year’s M&A activity level.

Coming out of the pandemic, there’s a worker shortage that has complex causes, which has increased the competition for talent. On top of that, we’re experiencing what has been coined the “Great Resignation,” with 4 million people quitting their jobs in April alone.

The good news is that with the right leadership approach and preparation, you can address uncertainty and keep your valuable talent on board.

Business leaders everywhere have a greater appreciation of the value of their people as a competitive asset. So, if you’re contemplating a merger or acquisition at this critical juncture, you know it’s important to retain talent and keep employees happy during the M&A process. It’s simple — you need them.

The war for talent is real

Companies — especially startups looking for highly skilled talent— were locked in a war for talent before the pandemic. COVID-19 intensified it, and if employers thought they had the upper hand when workers were getting hammered with layoffs and furloughs, they know better now. A report published earlier this year cited this startling statistic: More than half of workers in North America said they plan to look for a new job when the pandemic ends.

Money alone won’t solve the problem for employees who are motivated by purpose. Employees who are invested in your company put their heart and soul into it, which is invaluable. But employers have to work harder to keep that loyalty, and M&A situations threaten the status quo.

Acquisitions add an element of uncertainty, and workers who feel uncertain about a company’s future and their role in it are more likely to look elsewhere. The good news is that with the right leadership approach and preparation, you can address that uncertainty and keep your valuable talent on board. Here’s some advice for keeping employees top of mind during M&A:

Communicate, communicate, communicate: If you’re steering a startup or established tech company through an acquisition, the most important thing you can do is share your vision of what the new company will look like and how employees will be a part of its success. Employees today have a more entrepreneurial mindset than previous generations. They are purpose-driven, and they need to feel like they have a stake in the business. In a situation where uncertainty is driving anxiety (and causing employees to eye an exit), it’s hard to overcommunicate, and undercommunicating can be disastrous.

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #human-resource-management, #ma, #mergers-and-acquisitions, #talent, #talent-management, #tc, #worker

Reform your startup’s meeting culture

Bad meetings are the fast food of the knowledge worker; it’s so deliciously quick and easy to throw a 60-minute default meeting on everyone’s schedule, but the long-term costs are extremely unhealthy.

Busy meeting organizers drive-thru schedule meetings because they think they don’t have time to plan. They expect good outcomes to come from little preparation, which doesn’t happen. The meetings are being held and progress is stilted.

One way to save everyone significant time (and win lots of friends) would be to just get rid of all meetings, but a well-prepared and well-run session can expedite communication and get a team closer to its goals. Unfortunately, most meetings are lazily planned and poorly run, imprisoning attendees and halting productivity.

So how can you separate the good meetings from the bad?

Measure your meeting waistline

No one measures the impact of their meetings. So the first step is to start keeping meeting metrics so that you can identify the bad meetings on your teams’ calendars.

Every time a recurring meeting is added to a calendar, a kitten dies.

My company has created a calendar assistant that automatically measures and stops bad meetings before they occur, but if you can’t automate the prevention of bad meetings, survey and learn from attendees after the meeting to record and measure them.

Create taxonomies and quantify the types of meetings that are being held — for example: “information sharing,” “brainstorming,” “1:1,” “decision-making,” etc.

After several months (ideally a year) of collecting metrics, you can grade the quality and look for patterns. You will probably find something along these lines:

Practice agile, iterative change to refine products and build company culture

I firmly believe that principles as much as products drive a company’s success. A startup may have a persuasive brand story and good public relations, but if it’s internally inconsistent — if its employees and executives cannot identify its central values — sooner or later there will be trouble.

At Heap, the analytics solution provider I lead, a defining principle is that good ideas should not be lost to top-down dictates and overrigid hierarchies. Although I’m the CEO, I recognize that I don’t always have the best view simply because I’m on top of (the) Heap. The best results come when you approach leadership like you would create a great product — you hypothesize, you test and iterate, and once you get it right, you grow it.

Most of us have had the experience of receiving a sudden decree “from above” that makes little consideration for the actual, as opposed to the theoretical, situation of people on the ground.

One-and-done decrees versus agile, iterative change

I’ve used this method in the businesses I’ve managed. The scientific method, with its cycle of observation, reporting, hypothesizing, experimenting, analyzing and reporting, is a powerful tool for product and process development.

While my process isn’t quite as rigorous as the scientific method and tends to sprint where science slowly marches, it’s based on similar principles. Before I describe the system, a warning: Although it’s a simple way to iterate new concepts and evaluate new designs, my method requires a genuine commitment to the principles of cooperation and collaboration. In an organization predicated on hierarchy and strict structure, it could be a recipe for groupthink and unearned consensus. Iteration is not, however, a justification for delay: There may be several iterations of a project, but those iterations follow each other quickly.

Most of us have had the experience of receiving a sudden decree “from above” that makes little consideration for the actual, as opposed to the theoretical, situation of people on the ground. You know the kind of thing I mean: The sales team in the saturated territory is told they must increase revenue by 20%, the already lean division is told to cut costs by 10%. Moves like this are bad for morale; they inspire resentment and cut corners. It’s precisely to avoid this kind of top-down debacle that Heap takes a collaborative and iterative approach to change.

Passing ideas back and forth

We put our business’ best minds to work to devise an initial prototype of whatever our business may need. That prototype might be a minimum viable product for commercial release, polished messaging for our forthcoming releases, or even a compendium of internal workflows.

But we can’t consider a project perfect if it’s never been exposed to the world outside the office. Whether we’re crafting a project, tweaking our messaging or establishing pricing tiers, we test in the real world. We show products to consumers, prospects and advisers, who invariably have needs that we hadn’t anticipated. The testers’ concerns may send us rushing back to the drawing board, but that’s accepted and expected. It’s the testing and refining that leads to the best product. While some businesses prefer a rush to market, we’ve observed that doesn’t work. A rushed product will frustrate users, lose word-of-mouth enthusiasm and provide an opportunity to our competitors.

But this isn’t just for product releases; we adopt a similar strategy for determining changes inside the company.

#column, #company-culture, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work

6 strategies for running more effective startup board meetings

For many companies in the United States, a board of directors is a fact of doing business. While sole proprietorships and LLCs are not obligated to have one, C and S corporations must. The board’s goal is to ensure the best is done for the company and its shareholders. While many entrepreneurs see board meetings as a chore, they can be a powerful tool if used well.

Communicate often

While board meetings usually happen quarterly, it’s good practice to keep the conversation going in between them. Sending a monthly email update to the board offers multiple advantages:

  • Shorter updates: Business professionals’ attention spans are shrinking. Shorter content is easier to digest, and therefore more likely to be read.
  • Timely feedback: A quarter can be a long time, especially for young startups or during challenging times. The monthly format allows the company to receive help or feedback from the board earlier. In business, speed of iteration is key!
  • Keep them posted: Keeping directors up to date will avoid lengthy updates during board meetings, ensuring focus remains on strategic conversations.

Reach out when in need

When meeting online, founders should pause often and regularly ask if there are questions — even if moments of silence feel awkward at times — to give directors a better opportunity to speak up.

Board members can also be solicited on an ad-hoc basis — founders should keep in mind that board members are here to help the company. If you have doubts about a project decision or want a second, informed opinion, reach out to a board member. This is especially true of directors who have expertise on a specific topic. A quick five-minute call can be a game changer.

Being a founder can be a lonely experience because it can be difficult to discuss sensitive matters with the team. Board members should sign nondisclosure agreements, allowing entrepreneurs to share confidential information and get a different perspective on things.

Discuss goals for the next fundraising event

Founders should make sure to regularly discuss business goals to ensure they reach their next round of funding. Because the industry landscape or economy evolved or the competition stepped up, investors may reconsider their expectations to further fund the company.

#advisory-board, #board-member, #board-of-directors, #column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #meeting, #startup-company, #startups, #venture-capital

Dear Sophie: What options would allow me to start something on my own?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I’ve been working on an H-1B in the U.S. for nearly two years. While I’m grateful to have made it through the H-1B lottery and to be working, I’m feeling unhappy and frustrated with my job.

I really want to start something of my own and work on my own terms in the United States. Are there any immigration options that would allow me to do that?

— Seeking Satisfaction

Dear Seeking,

Job dissatisfaction and frustration while on H-1B is normal, according to Edward Gorbis. He is the founder of Career Meets World and a performance coach who specifically works with immigrants and first-generation professionals to help them find fulfillment and thrive in their careers and life. I recently spoke with him for my podcast, “Immigration Law For Tech Startups.”

He says that “once immigrants reach stability, they start to think, ‘Who am I, what do I value, what’s my core identity?’” He partners with people to help them to gain a better understanding of why they think the way they do, teach them how our brain really works, and then reshape and retrain the brain for success.

Gorbis says that imagining overcoming the hurdles that stand in the way of doing the work that will fulfill you is the first step. So, here are some options that can help you imagine how to move toward building the life of your dreams.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Raise $250,000 and be the CEO

A great new option for aspiring entrepreneurs is International Entrepreneur Parole, a new immigration program in the United States that allows CEOs, CTOs, and others to obtain a 2.5-year immigration status. You can live in the U.S. and run your company. Your spouse can work and you could be eligible for a 2.5-year extension.

How to qualify? You’ll need to own at least 10% of a U.S. company, such as a Delaware C corporation registered in California. Ideally, you’ll want to show that your company bank account has at least $250,000 raised from qualifying U.S. investors prior to applying, but you can demonstrate other evidence to show that your company has the potential to grow rapidly and create jobs in the U.S.

See yourself at another company

There is technically no limit on how many H-1B employers you can have or how many hours you work — or how few hours you work — in an H-1B position. So, think about other companies.

#column, #diversity, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #h-1b, #h-1b-visa, #immigration-law, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #tc, #verified-experts

CEO Shishir Mehrotra and investor S. Somasegar reveal what sings in Coda’s pitch doc

Coda entered the market with an ambitious, but simple, mission. Since launching in 2014, it has seemingly forged a path to realizing its vision with $140 million in funding and 25,000 teams across the globe using the platform.

Coda is simple in that its focus is on the document, one of the oldest content formats/tools on the internet, and indeed in the history of software. Its ambition lies in the fact that there are massive incumbents in this space, like Google and Microsoft.

Co-founder and CEO Shishir Mehrotra told TechCrunch that that level of competition wasn’t a hindrance, mainly because the company was very good at communicating its value and building highly effective flywheels for growth.

Mehrotra was generous enough to let us take a look through his pitch doc (not deck!) on a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, diving not only into the factors that have made Coda successful, but how he communicated those factors to investors.

Coda Pitch Doc

A screenshot from Coda’s pitch doc.

Extra Crunch Live also features the ECL Pitch-off, where founders in the audience come “onstage” to pitch their products to our guests. Mehrotra and his investor, Madrona partner S. Somasegar, gave their live feedback on pitches from the audience, which you can check out in the video (full conversation and pitch-off) below.

As a reminder, Extra Crunch Live takes place every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT. Anyone can hang out during the episode (which includes networking with other attendees), but access to past episodes is reserved exclusively for Extra Crunch members. Join here.

The soft circle

Like many investors and founders, Mehrotra and Somasegar met well before Mehrotra was working on his own project. They met when both of them worked at Microsoft and maintained a relationship while Mehrotra was at Google.

In their earliest time together, the conversations centered around advice on the Seattle tech ecosystem or on working with a particular team at Microsoft.

“Many people will tell you building relationships with investors … you want to do it outside of a fundraise as much as possible,” said Mehrotra.

Eventually, Mehrotra got to work on Coda and kept in touch with Somasegar. He even pitched him for Series B fundraising — and ultimately got a no. But the relationship persisted.

#cloud, #coda, #ec-future-of-work, #enterprise, #extra-crunch-live, #madrona, #s-somasegar, #shishir-mehrotra, #startups, #tc

Companies should utilize real-time compensation data to ensure equal pay

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are often thought to be an issue that can be solved by intuition by some segment of the HR team. However, in reality, it needs to come from a data-driven approach that encompasses the entire workforce.

The primary aspect that companies usually look to, in terms of treating employees fairly, is remuneration. However, having the conversation and agreeing on the need for equality doesn’t mean it will be achieved on an organizational scale.

Particular attention should be paid to addressing inequities in the areas of attracting and hiring candidates, integration, performance assessment, compensation and promotion.

In a recent survey from Mercer that included data from more than 1,000 companies in 54 countries, 81% agreed that it was important to have a plan for advancing gender equality, but just 42% actually had one in place. This points toward a tokenism attitude indicating companies are happy to talk around the issue without addressing it directly.

Despite the fact that women make up roughly half of all college-educated workers in the United States, they are underrepresented in positions of power — just 8% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women, and, incredibly, just 1% by women of color. Furthermore, the last U.S. census revealed that women who are employed full time are paid on average 17% less than men.

While there have been steps to ensure equal pay, such as Canada’s Pay Equity Act, which states that men and women in the public sector should be paid equally, it does not cover the private sector. Given that the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that equal pay will not be reached until 2059, there is still plenty of work to be done.

Particular attention should be paid to addressing inequities in the areas of attracting and hiring candidates, integration, performance assessment, compensation and promotion. Companies need to think about initiatives that are supported by objective tools to drive progress, identify problems and strategize solutions. This is where data can be a great tool to provide insight into DEI: by highlighting shortcomings and areas where there is bias.

Start with data collection

The first step is to create a data set so that tangible metrics can be utilized and turned into actionable decisions. To do this, diversity and inclusion officers need to be given the opportunity to weed out bias.

Obviously, the data would drive decisions on areas such as compensation. But far too often, director-level discussions don’t involve the talent acquisition team. To eradicate the pay gap and ensure compensation is equalized on individual merit, this needs to change. Line managers and talent acquisition teams have the best knowledge of their staff and are well placed to procure the right information to help senior managers make equitable decisions.

#business-intelligence, #column, #dei, #diversity, #diversity-and-inclusion, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #human-resource-management, #mckinsey, #sexism, #tc

Dear Sophie: Is it possible to expand our startup in the US?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My co-founders and I launched a software startup in Iran a few years ago, and I’m happy to say it’s now thriving. We’d like to expand our company in California.

Now that President Joe Biden has eliminated the Muslim ban, is it possible to do that? Is the pandemic still standing in the way? Do you have any suggestions?

— Talented in Tehran

Dear Talented,

Yes, it’s possible! Unfortunately, yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is still making the immigration process a bit challenging, but remember, where there’s a will, there’s most often, in immigration law, a way.

On his first day in office in January, Biden rescinded the ban on visas for many majority-Muslim countries, including Iran. The ban had been in place since 2017 and nearly 42,000 visa applications were denied, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Biden also allowed the bans on the issuance of H-1B, L-1, and J-1 visas and green cards at U.S. embassies and consulates that the previous administration put in place last year to lapse.

That means international startup founders like you and other international talent living outside the United States can start thinking about obtaining these visas and green cards without necessarily requiring exceptions to do so. In a recent podcast episode, I talked about these and other immigration-related changes, as well as those promised by the Biden administration. Take a listen to find out more!

As you probably know, most travelers from Iran are currently not allowed entry into the U.S. because of the COVID-19 travel ban, and most U.S. embassies and consulates are not open for routine visa and green card application processing. Because the United States has not had an embassy or consulate in Iran since the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, you and your co-founders should find out which U.S. embassies or consulates are currently processing routine visa and green card applications — and are in countries that are not on the suspended entry list — and apply there. We’re still waiting for detailed information from the State Department on the equivalent of reparations for individuals who were affected by the Muslim ban.

In addition, I recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you devise an immigration strategy for yourself, your co-founders and your families based on your personal and professional goals. Now, here are a few options for you to consider.

L-1A visa to open a U.S. office for your startup

#column, #dear-sophie, #diversity, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #green-card, #h-1b-visa, #immigration-law, #iran, #lawyers, #policy, #sophie-alcorn, #startup-visa, #startups, #verified-experts

As the economy reopens, startups are uniquely positioned to recruit talent

We are amidst a sprawling renegotiation between employers and employees as to the very nature of work, and no one has more leverage than skilled technologists — many of whom feel unmoored from their current jobs.

Our 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report — which in the second quarter polled technology professionals who mostly work at bigger organizations — shows 48% tech professionals expressed an interest in changing companies this year, up from 40% in the fourth quarter of 2020, and a big jump from 32% in the second quarter last year.

It’s a unique moment, one that creates an unusual opportunity for startup founders on the hunt for talent.

Fast growing upstarts have a lot of advantages. Bigger companies may be more likely to attempt to recreate the office environment of the past — especially if they have leased space and a built environment that will be difficult to unwind. Startups are often non-traditional and may be able to react to create the hybrid work environments many technologists crave as the economy reopens.

While all startups are certainly not focused on being disruptive, they often rely on cutting-edge technology and processes to give their customers something truly new. Many are trying to change the pattern in their particular industry. So, by definition, they generally have a really interesting mission or purpose that may be more appealing to tech professionals.

A migration of tech talent just as the economy is revving up would be disruptive and could also play to startup strengths. The market for tech talent is already strong: tech hiring has increased every month since November, according to our last tech jobs report released in May. Great data engineers, developers, business analysts and the like are in red-hot demand, and unemployment in tech is just above 2.4% percent, versus 5.5.% percent in the economy overall.

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #entrepreneurship, #labor, #personnel, #recruiting, #recruitment, #startups, #tech-jobs, #tech-recruitment

3 views on the future of meetings

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, early-stage startups across the world are re-inventing how we work. But founders aren’t flocking to build just another SaaS tool or Airtable copycat — they’re trying to disrupt the only thing possibly more annoying than e-mail: the work meeting.

On an episode of this week’s podcast, Equity hosts Alex Wilhelm, Danny Crichton and Natasha Mascarenhas discussed a flurry of funding rounds related to the future of work.

Rewatch, which makes meetings asynchronous, raised $20 million from Andreessen Horowitz, AnyClip got $47 million in a round led by JVP for video search and analytics technology, Interactio, a remote interpretation platform, landed $30 million from Eight Roads Ventures and Silicon Valley-based Storm Ventures, and Spot Meetings got Kleiner Perkins on board in a $5 million seed.

We connected the dots between these funding rounds to sketch out three perspectives on the future of workplace meetings. Part of our reasoning was the uptick of investment as mentioned above, and the other is that our calendars are full of them. We all agree that the traditional meeting is broken, so below you’ll find each of our arguments on where they go next and what we’d like to see.

  • Alex Wilhelm: Faster information throughput, please
  • Natasha Mascarenhas: Meetings should be ongoing, not in calendar invites
  • Danny Crichton: Redesign meetings for flow

Alex Wilhelm: Faster information throughput, please

I’ve worked for companies that were in love with meetings, and for companies where meetings were more infrequent. I prefer the latter by a wide margin. I’ve also worked in offices full-time, half-time and fully remote. I immensely prefer the final option.

Why? Work meetings are often a waste of time. Mostly you don’t need to align, most folks taking part are superfluous and as accidental team-building exercises they are incredibly expensive in terms of human-hours.

I am not into wasting time. The more remote I’ve been and the less time I’ve spent in less-formal meetings — the usual chit-chat that pollutes productive work time, making the days longer and less useful — the more I’ve managed to get done.

But I’ve been the lucky one, frankly. Most folks were still trapped in offices up until the pandemic shook up the world of work, finally giving more companies a shot at a whole-cloth rebuild of how they toil.

The good news is that CEOs are taking note. Chatting with Sprout Social CEO Justyn Howard this week, he explained how we have a unique, new chance to not live near where we work in 2021, but to instead bring work to where we live. He’s also an introvert, which meant that as a pair we’ve found a number of positives in some of the changes to how tech and media companies operate. Perhaps we’re a little biased.

A number of startups are rushing to fill the gap between the new expectations that Howard noted and our old digital and IRL realities.

Tandem.chat might be one such company. The former Y Combinator launch-day darling has spent its post-halo period building. Its CEO sent me a manifesto of sorts the other day, discussing how his company approaches the future of work meetings. Tandem is building for a world where communication needs to be both real-time and internal; it leaves asynchronous internal communication to Slack, real-time external communications to Zoom and asynchronous external chats to email. I agree, I think.

#covid-19, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-proptech, #equity-podcast, #podcasts, #real-estate, #remote-work, #startups, #tc, #telecommuting

Poor onboarding is the enemy of good hiring

The world of hybrid work is here, and the usual 10-minute intro call, swag bag and first-day team lunch are just not enough to make your new employee feel welcome.

While many companies have found a way to interview and select candidates in a fully remote environment, fewer have spent time and resources on aligning the “pre-boarding” and onboarding process for the new hybrid world of work. Many employers still rely on old ways of welcoming new hires, despite our totally changed work environment.

It’s important to capitalize on candidates’ enthusiasm and eagerness from the moment the offer is signed, instead of when they log in on Day One.

In our experience at Greenhouse, where we help companies as diverse as BuzzFeed, HubSpot and Intercom hire talent across their organization, first impressions can make or break a candidate’s chances of staying at a company.

In fact, 69% of employees will stay for more than three years if their onboarding experience is good, while 20% will leave within 45 days if it’s bad. That difference is costly, as it takes, on average, around $4,129 and 42 days to fill a position.

Replacing someone can cost up to 50%-60% of their annual salary. At the same time, 58% of organizations said they were guilty of centering their onboarding processes on administrative and paperwork requirements alone.

Here is how we advise our clients to set up every new hire for success right from the start.

The company’s Day One comes long before the candidate’s Day One

Most of us can remember the excitement (and anxiety) of receiving and signing an offer for a new job. It’s important to capitalize on candidates’ enthusiasm and eagerness from the moment the offer is signed, instead of when they log in on Day One.

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-how-to, #employment, #human-resource-management, #labor, #onboarding, #recruitment, #startups, #telecommuting

7 questions to ask before relocating your startup to Florida

If it seems like everyone you know is moving to Florida these days, there is evidence to back that up. Recent data from LinkedIn published in Axios put Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro areas among the top 10 U.S. cities seeing in-migration.

When I relocated from Chicago to Tampa in early 2018, I found myself in a city that countered the stereotypes I’d heard about the state. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate the advantages that came with building my organization in Florida, and I’m often asked how I made the call.

To help you weigh the benefits of relocating your startup to Florida, here are some FAQs I’ve encountered. And if the Sunshine State isn’t on your startup’s shortlist, don’t hesitate to apply these answers to a different destination.

1. What are your company’s needs?

While you may have personal reasons for wanting to relocate to a new state, it’s a good idea to map out your company’s needs as you think through this decision.

Does a move bring you closer to a great pool of talent? Are you looking for a headquarters near a specific material resource or type of infrastructure? Do you need to be local to a target customer base or community?

For example, Florida is a terrific location for companies that stand to benefit from the presence of retired military talent and the prevalence of military bases, which creates a strong market for certain types of tech innovation, including cybersecurity and aviation.

If you’re a startup leader who is looking to land in a place with a strong, welcoming network, take the time to reach out to local community leaders and other founders like you.

Whatever it is you need to fuel your company’s growth, listing out your company’s requirements will make it easier to compare your needs with what your potential destination has to offer.

2. Which community do you want to be a part of?

If you haven’t found the tech community you’re looking for in your current location, pause to articulate what qualities you’re looking for. With this in mind, you can begin to establish the kinds of local connections you’re hoping to grow before you make any big moves.

I moved to Florida to participate in the diverse tech communities in Tampa and Miami, and I knew I was headed to the right place because I tested the waters before jumping in. As a relative newcomer myself, I’ve found the landscape in Florida to be more open and accessible than in other more established startup hubs, but don’t take my word for it.

If you’re a startup leader who is looking to land in a place with a strong, welcoming network, take the time to reach out to local community leaders and other founders like you. Whether that means sending a tweet to the mayor of Miami or connecting to local startup hubs, these interactions will give you a good sense of the local culture.

Because so many people are migrating down to Florida, we’ve put together a database of recent transplants to make it even easier to connect new residents to the existing tech community.

3. What are the potential benefits of moving your company to Florida?

When I think about what brought me to Florida and why I see other entrepreneurs headed this way, three big things come to mind:

#column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #florida, #miami, #startup-company, #startups, #tampa, #tc

2 CEOs are better than 1

Netflix has two CEOs: Co-founder Reed Hastings oversees the streaming side of the company, while Ted Sarandos guides Netflix’s content.

Warby Parker has co-CEOs as well — its co-founders went to college together. Other companies like the tech giant Oracle and luggage maker Away have shifted from having co-CEOs in recent years, sparking a wave of headlines suggesting that the model is broken.

It’s impossible to be in two places at once or clone yourself. With co-CEOs, you can effectively do just that.

While there isn’t a lot of research on companies with multiple CEOs, the data is more promising than the headlines would suggest. One study on public companies with co-CEOs revealed that the average tenure for co-CEOs, about 4.5 years, was comparable to solitary CEOs, “suggesting that this arrangement is more stable than previously believed.”

The study’s authors also found that co-CEOs were spread across industry types and that splitting the role can “complement each other in terms of educational background or executive responsibilities.”

I serve as co-CEO of an organic meal delivery company with my sister Laureen. Having two CEOs has helped us take Fresh n’ Lean to new heights. We closed 2020 with $87 million in revenue, more than double from the year before, and project similar growth this year.

We complement each other well, and the results bear that out. During the decade that we’ve served as co-CEOs, the company has grown from a very small team to 475 full-time employees and 40 part-time employees. We’ve delivered more than 17 million meals, launched four different meal lines, expanded our retail offerings, partnered with some great names in sports and fitness, and saw our annual revenues climb exponentially.

The leadership structure isn’t for every company, but it’s been a great fit for Fresh n’ Lean. Here’s why.

Divide and conquer to shorten your learning curve by 50%

Laureen launched the company in 2010 out of her one-bedroom apartment.

“Those early years were especially tough,” she said. “I consistently worked 20-hour days as I performed just about every role — cooking dishes, preparing labels, making deliveries and performing customer service duties. I was devoting so much energy into product, packaging and logistics, but in order for the company to grow, I needed help with marketing, tech and finance.”

Those areas happened to be my strengths. There was too much for one person to oversee as CEO and not enough hours in the day. But given the equal challenges that both sides of the company presented and the trust we shared, it made sense for us to be side by side on the organizational chart.

#ceo, #chief-executive-officer, #co-founder, #column, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-how-to, #entrepreneurship, #leadership, #startups

Dear Sophie: Does it make sense to sponsor immigrant talent to work remotely?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My startup is in big-time hiring mode. All of our employees are currently working remotely and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future — even after the pandemic ends. We are considering individuals who are living outside of the U.S. for a few of the positions we are looking to fill.

Does it make sense to sponsor them for a visa to work remotely from somewhere in the United States?

— Selective in Silicon Valley

Dear Selective,

Thanks for reaching out — I’m always happy to hear about another fast-growing startup! If some of your leadership team is also abroad, check out the recent announcement about the new International Entrepreneur Parole program for founders.

It can make great business sense to sponsor international talent for a visa even if the position involves working remotely from a location inside the U.S. With the right legal setup, your team can work from home in Silicon Valley, nearby in California, or in another state where the cost of living is not quite as high. We’ve received this question from many employers, and many of our clients are proceeding with sponsoring international talent with visas and green cards for work-from-home positions.

I discussed this and other issues related to recruiting and work trends with Katie Lampert for my podcast. Lampert leads the talent acquisition and infrastructure group at General Catalyst, a VC firm that invests in seed to growth-stage startups in the U.S. and abroad. She advises companies in the General Catalyst portfolio on all things talent-related, including establishing company culture, creating a company’s infrastructure for recruiting and retaining talent, and planning for the future.

“Recruiting is going to be more global, which is exciting,” Lampert said during our discussion. “This will have a really positive effect on cultural diversity in the workforce. Studies show that a more diverse workforce leads to greater financial success.”

In fact, the latest McKinsey & Co. report on diversity, “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters,” found that companies with ethnically and culturally diverse executive teams are 36% more likely to achieve above-average profitability than companies with less diverse teams. McKinsey has issued three reports on diversity, and with each subsequent report, the business case for ethnic and cultural diversity and gender diversity in corporate leadership has grown stronger.

In addition to boosting profitability, bringing international talent to the United States to join your startup offers a host of other benefits as well.

#column, #dear-sophie, #diversity, #ec-column, #ec-future-of-work, #employment-law, #executive, #green-card, #h-1b-visa, #immigration-law, #lawyers, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #technology, #verified-experts

As tech offices begin to reopen, the workplace could look very different

The pandemic forced many employees to begin working from home, and, in doing so, may have changed the way we think about work. While some businesses have slowly returned to the office, depending on where you live and what you do, many information workers remain at home.

That could change in the coming months as more people get vaccinated and the infection rate begins to drop in the U.S.

As that happens, it is likely that more offices will reopen. We’ve already heard from major employers like Salesforce, which indicated it will be allowing a percentage of its workforce back to the office this month, starting with the company’s San Francisco headquarters. The CRM giant plans to move slow and follow the government’s lead, allowing 20% capacity at first and hoping to build to 70% over time.

Most companies aren’t the size of Salesforce, which boasts a worldwide workforce of more than 50,000 employees. These smaller companies often don’t control entire skyscrapers, as Salesforce does in San Francisco. That creates complicating factors, including managing people who aren’t willing to be vaccinated, dealing with social distancing and masking, and sharing buildings or floors with other companies.

Even more, many companies have discovered that their employees work just fine at home. And some workers don’t want to waste time stuck on congested highways or public transportation now that they’ve learned to work remotely. But other employees suffered in small spaces or with constant interruptions from family. Those folks may long to go back to the office.

On balance, it seems clear that whatever happens, for many companies, we probably aren’t going back whole-cloth to the prior model of commuting into the office five days a week.

Last August, we spoke to a number of tech company executives about what returning to the office could look like. We recently went back to most of those same executives, as well as a Rhode Island state official and a medical expert we spoke to then to revisit the idea and talk about what’s changed and what work could look like as move slowly toward the post-pandemic era.

The office will never be the same

While their approaches vary, all of the executives I spoke to said that they foresee adopting a hybrid model when they can return in earnest, although there were definitely different interpretations of what that means, and what the office structure will look like.

#covid-19, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-real-estate-and-proptech, #health, #real-estate, #startups, #work-from-home

Atomico’s talent partners share 6 tips for early-stage people ops success

In the earliest stages of building a startup, it can be hard to justify focusing on anything other than creating a great product or service and meeting the needs of customers or users. However, there are still a number of surefire measures that any early-stage company can and should put in place to achieve “people ops” success as they begin scaling, according to venture capital firm Atomico‘s talent partners, Caro Chayot and Dan Hynes.

You need to recruit for what you need, but you also need to think about what is coming down the line.

As members of the VC’s operational support team, both work closely with companies in the Atomico portfolio to “find, develop and retain” the best employees in their respective fields, at various stages of the business. They’re operators at heart, and they bring a wealth of experience from time spent prior to entering VC.

Before joining Atomico, Chayot led the EMEA HR team at Twitter, where she helped scale the business from two to six markets and grew the team from 80 based in London to 500 across the region. Prior to that, she worked at Google in people ops for nine years.

Hynes was responsible for talent and staffing at well-known technology companies including Google, Cisco and Skype. At Google, he grew the EMEA team from 60 based in London to 8,500 across Europe by 2010, and at Skype, he led a talent team that scaled from 600 to 2,300 in three years.

Caro Chayot’s top 3 tips

1. Think about your long-term org design (18 months down the line) and hire back from there

When most founders think about hiring, they think about what they need now and the gaps that exist in their team at that moment. Dan and I help founders see things a little differently. You need to recruit for what you need, but you also need to think about what is coming down the line. What will your company look like in a year or 18 months? Functions and team sizes will depend on the sector — whether you are building a marketplace, a SaaS business or a consumer company. Founders also need to think about how the employees they hire now can develop over the next 18 months. If you hire people who are at the top of their game now, they won’t be able to grow into the employees you need in the future.

2. Spend time defining what your culture is. Use that for hiring and everything else people-related

If org design is the “what,” then culture is the “how.” It’s about laying down values and principles. It may sound fluffy, but capturing what it means to work at your company is key to hiring and retaining the best talent. You can use clearly articulated values at every stage of talent-building to shape your employer brand. What do you want potential employees to feel when they see your website? What do you want to look for in the interview process to make sure you are hiring people who are additive to the culture? How do you develop people and compensate them? These are all expressions of culture.

#diversity, #diversity-and-inclusion, #ec-future-of-work, #ec-how-to, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #hiring, #startups, #tc