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When Cornerstone employees from the Bay Area office had to shift to remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they knew it would be a difficult transition. But it hasn’t stopped this team from maintaining a strong community, leading with purpose or creating an inclusive work environment. In fact, due to this office’s stellar work environment, Cornerstone’s Bay Area office was recently named one of the Top Workplaces in the Bay Area for 2020 by the Bay Area Newsgroup.

Prior to the pandemic, Cornerstone’s Bay Area location offered a wealth of in-office benefits, like free food, espresso machines and ping pong tables. While these perks did help attract and retain talented employees, the Bay Area team knew this alone was not enough to cultivate a culture—and the pandemic has made it clearer than ever that a culture can’t rely on in-office treats. Long before the pandemic shutdowns, Cornerstone focused on creating and maintaining a workplace environment that was inclusive—one in which every employee feels recognized and has a voice. 

Roopa Panuganti, who is one of the leaders of Cornerstone’s global culture club and a client success manager at the company, has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Bay Area office meets the needs of its employees and creates an inclusive culture with ample support from HR leadership. From celebrating a greater variety of cultural events and listening to employees’ pain points long before COVID, to providing learning resources and fitness stipends to employees during the pandemic, Cornerstone’s Bay Area office has created an inclusive, community-driven and now award-winning work environment.

A Workplace Focused on Inclusivity, Communication and Learning 

To promote inclusivity in the office prior to COVID-19, Roopa and her fellow Bay Area teammates started adding a greater variety of cultural celebrations to their holiday calendars, including Diwali, Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and MLK Day. These events help in making sure their workplace is more inclusive of different religions, holidays and cultures—especially if done well. 

“For example, at last year’s Diwali celebration, we made sure to serve vegetarian options after learning that many of our employees follow this kind of diet,” said Roopa.  

The success of the Bay Area office can also be attributed to how well they listen to their employees. For example, when the office was located in San Francisco, many employees had long commutes to work every morning. The office surveyed its employees to gauge their interest in moving the office to Dublin, a city in the East Bay, and discovered that a majority were in favor of the move. In response, the office moved to Dublin—cutting down employees’ commute times and improving work-life balance overall. 

The Bay Area office—as well as all of Cornerstone’s global offices—also provides their employees with a wealth of learning and development resources. According to Roopa, these programs are helpful in preparing teams with the skills they will need for the future of work and in fostering connection among teams: 

“By providing our employees with learning opportunities, we are encouraging employees to help and work with one another. By promoting learning, we create a workplace culture that encourages the sharing of knowledge. So, if an employee is struggling with something or has questions, we make sure that managers and other team members are ready and available to help them.”

Staying Focused on Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bay Area office continued to focus on promoting inclusivity, communication and learning. They offered new employee resource groups (ERGs) where newly-remote workers or working parents could virtually congregate to discuss their struggles in working from home or juggling their job and childcare responsibilities. The office also sends out weekly communications from its leadership to report on office opening statuses, provide additional resources and more. 

And, for new employees joining the team during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornerstone set up onboarding support systems across all offices. This was especially helpful earlier this year, when Cornerstone acquired the talent software company, Saba, and hundreds of new employees joined teams spanning corporate functions. 

“The onboarding process after the acquisition was seamless,” said Roopa. “If a new employee had questions or was struggling to learn some of their jobs tasks or tools remotely, there was a buddy system in place to make sure they had someone to go to for help.” 

Cornerstone even provided every office with an online workout subscription and stipends for setting up home offices. The Bay Area team went the extra mile of proactively encouraging members of their team to use it as a way to stay comfortable and healthy during this particularly difficult experience. 

As the reality of day-to-day work continues to change, Cornerstone’s Bay Area office plans to continue iterating upon their inclusive workplace culture and finding new ways to make their employees feel supported, cared for and empowered. 

If you want to learn more about how to realize your potential at Cornerstone and view open positions, visit the Cornerstone Careers website.