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Syracuse tech companies adopting some changes caused by COVID-19

The Digital Hyve
The staff at The Digital Hyve, pictured here, are now working remotely due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The company's CEO said they may adopt more remote work opportunities moving forward, even after the virus is gone.

Although many office employees have returned to work or soon will, tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and others have announced that some of their employees may work remotely on a permanent basis. Some tech companies in Syracuse are also planning to implement changes that could permanently change how and where their employees work.

When the employees at The Digital Hyve, a digital marketing and advertising agency based in Syracuse, moved to remote work in line with New York's statewide shutdown, it was a natural transition according to CEO Jeff Knauss. Many of his employees were already working from home one day a week and the services The Digital Hyve provides are all done with computers. It also helped that the employees at The Digital Hyve are all well-versed in technology - they are 'digital natives' as Knauss described it. In fact, he said many other companies in this space in Syracuse have told him the same thing. 

"The whole digital, startup, tech community - we’re all finding collectively we really don’t need a physical presence in the office to effectively run our companies," Knauss said. "We’re finding all of the efficiencies we need, finding all of the operational processes, and kind of pivoting along with what is necessary to excel in a remote environment and we all seem to be handling it pretty well."

While Knauss' coworkers say they miss the collaborative atmosphere at the office, the company is compensating for that with more communication through tools like Zoom video chat and Slack messaging. It's working so well that Knauss said he probably won't ask his employees to return to the office until later this year - and even then it will look very different.

"We’re going to have an optional if you want to come in, feel free up to a certain limit of people who will be there on a daily basis," Knauss said. "I also think we will more than likely have more opportunities for work-from-home days and remote work on a permanent basis."

Jeffrey Rubin is the CEO of Sidearm Sports, a Syracuse-based company that builds websites and apps for college athletic programs. Rubin said the shutdown has already altered the company's business life as they know it.

"Where we used to think hey we really want to hire within Syracuse, we really need people working in our office, we’re so collaborative, I think our mentality has changed," Rubin said. "Maybe it doesn’t really matter that we’re here in Syracuse. Maybe we could hire a developer that’s from Buffalo or Rochester or Albany or downstate. We’ve been tested and we have come to realize that we can use technology to be as collaborative."

Rubin thinks just as every business has come to use some sort of technology these changes that the tech and digital industry are embracing now may soon spread to other industries as well.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.