Our Future is Hybrid: Zocdoc’s Return to Work Plans

Update: February 23, 2022

Throughout the pandemic, with its multitude of variants, the safety and health of our team members has remained our top priority. As such, we temporarily closed our NYC offices in December 2021 as the Omicron variant led to a steep rise in cases. Beginning on February 21, as local case numbers and regulations allow, our NYC office will reopen and be accessible to all fully vaccinated employees five days a week. Working in-office remains voluntary; everyone is invited but nobody is required to work in the office.

When we made the decision to move toward becoming a hybrid workforce, we committed to applying two of our company’s core values — Learners before Masters and Progress before Perfection — to that effort. We have done so as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, and we will continue to test, learn, and adjust our approach based on public health guidelines and team feedback.

Update: November 30, 2021

Zocdoc requires U.S. employees — except those who work remotely — to be fully vaccinated (as defined by the CDC) before entering our office spaces. Of course we work with employees who need to request reasonable accommodation in this situation.

As always, we recognize that guidance from public health officials will continue to evolve; we will keep a close eye on all important health and safety indicators and regulations, and update company policies accordingly.

Update: August 16, 2021

In line with Zocdoc’s number one core value, Patients First — which prioritizes the health and safety of our employees and patients in our broader communities over all else — we are extending Phase One of our return to office plan through the end of 2021.

Zocdoc’s iterative, three-phased approach has given us the flexibility to adapt our plans to align with evolving public health guidelines and the feedback we have been gathering from Zocdoc’rs. We remain committed to taking a ‘Learners before Masters’ approach; evolving health and safety indicators and insights from team members will continue to inform our return to office plans.

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Last week, we announced our return to office philosophy and plans for the Zocdoc team based in the U.S. Ultimately, we believe that working toward a hybrid model — where team members will be encouraged to work in the office up to three days each week — is the right approach for Zocdoc.

Our teams put careful thought and planning into this decision and our glide path toward it. Below, we share the context and details we shared with Zocdoc’rs regarding how we will approach successfully becoming a hybrid workforce.

One Year Ago

In June 2020, we made the decision to not require any team members to return to the office before Labor Day of 2021. As Zocdoc founder and CEO Oliver Kharraz, M.D. explained to Fortune, “As a physician and CEO, I considered both the health risks and the business risks in developing Zocdoc’s reopening framework, and ultimately leaned on the physician’s pledge of primum non nocere: First, do no harm.”

Oliver’s guiding principles for closing our offices and shifting to remote work were to:

  1. Protect the health and wellbeing of our employees,
  2. Give them a sense of control in planning for their lives and families for one full year, during a time of great uncertainty,
  3. Abide by our number one core value, Patients First, and honor the public health obligation to limit any community spread.

Over the course of the past year, we continued to innovate remotely. From our homes, we launched video visits, Zocdoc Video Service, and most recently Zocdoc Vaccine Scheduler: a free offering to help streamline our nation’s ambitious mass vaccination effort.

But as Labor Day approaches and vaccination rates climb, it’s time to think about emerging from our homes — maybe even putting on pants with buttons — and reinventing the way we work yet again.

Our guiding principles for a post-pandemic working model

We believe that for many of our teams, the most effective working model will be a hybrid one. We know that Zocdoc’rs can be successful and productive while working from home, as they have done since March 2020 out of necessity. But we also believe that our culture of innovation and collaboration thrives when we have opportunities to work together in-person, especially as we look continue to scale our team (have we mentioned we’re hiring?)

Additionally, one of the main reasons people love working at Zocdoc is because of the genuine respect and fondness they have for their teammates, and the tight-knit and highly collaborative community we have built. So we believe it is important to give teammates the opportunity to gather in the office to allow for impromptu connection, conversation, and co-creation.

In evaluating which roles and teams would thrive with a hybrid approach, our goal is to have consistent, transparent, and fair decision-making surrounding how different roles may operate. In that spirit, we considered a number of important factors including the level of innovation supported by in-person collaboration, the level of management focus and bandwidth required to develop a team or achieve a goal, how much physical presence is required to fulfill a role’s responsibilities, and more.

It is important to also note that team members who were hired into remote roles will stay fully remote. Additionally, we announced that our office in Pune, India will remain fully closed through the end of this year to keep our team members safe.

Taking an iterative approach toward becoming a hybrid workforce

Two of our core company values are Learners before Masters and Progress before Perfection, and we will apply both in becoming a hybrid workforce. We will test our hypothesis, learn, and adjust based on feedback from team members, as we trust them to tell us what’s working and what’s not. As part of this, we will take an iterative approach with three distinct phases:

Phase 1 (starting June 23, 2021): We will run a pilot in our NYC office in which 40 team members can opt-in to work from the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This will allow us to get feedback from a small, consistent group of in-office scouts (as well as from their remote collaborators) to inform where we need to make adjustments.

Phase 2 (starting September 13, 2021): We will encourage Zocdoc’rs to join us in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and our NYC and Scottsdale, AZ offices will be open five days a week for anyone who would like to come in more. Of note, no team members will be mandated to return to an office in 2021.

Phase 3 (targeted to start in January 2022): We will encourage employees to join us on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the office, with the option to work remotely on Monday and Friday. Our NYC and Scottsdale offices will be open five days a week for anyone who would like to come in.

Importantly, we recognize that guidance from public health officials will continue to evolve; we will keep a close eye on all the important health and safety indicators throughout each of our phases. We only want our team members to work together in-person if it is truly safe to do so.

Of course, there are still many open questions: What’s the new elevator etiquette? When we reunite, will we hug, fist bump, shake hands, other? How will our catered lunch work? Will our weekly all-hands meeting (Zoctalk) stay virtual or will we reconvene in person? Which team members or roles may become fully remote? Will the on-tap cold brew still be as popular as it was in the Before Times? Together, we will figure these answers out as we go.

But there is one thing we know for certain: no matter how or where we work evolves, our mission to give power to the patient will remain constant.

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