Work-Life Balance

This Remote-First Company Helps Parents Find More Work-Life Integration

From left: Forrest Aldridge, Bryce Jonasson, and Jessica Lam, of CrowdStrike.
From left: Forrest Aldridge, Bryce Jonasson, and Jessica Lam, of CrowdStrike.
| Courtesy of CrowdStrike; photo of Jessica Lam by McCune Photography

For senior engineer Forrest Aldridge, it was evident from his earliest interviews that CrowdStrike wasn’t like other tech companies. “One of my interviewers said his primary tools were Go, Python—and compassion,” he says. “We had a whole conversation about empathy and compassion. That conversation is what made me choose CrowdStrike.”

The cybersecurity company has made a name for itself as a trusted provider of endpoint security and cyber attack response for some of the biggest companies on the planet. But behind the scenes, CrowdStrike is built on the philosophy that giving employees autonomy and flexibility will empower them to do their best work. And this carries through across the company—starting with a remote-first environment that helps employees prioritize their families and personal lives without sacrificing professional achievement.

Engineering program manager Jessica Lam had her first child just before the pandemic, and found joining CrowdStrike in December of 2020 was a liberating experience as a parent. “At my previous job I felt unsure if people were really OK with me juggling work and my child,” she says. “I don’t feel that way at CrowdStrike. If my kids are crying in the background of a call, someone will throw in, ‘Yeah, that happened to me last week.’ You feel supported. People understand, and they don’t look down on you for having other priorities as well. I feel valued for who I actually am rather than just what I can do.”

Senior engineering manager Bryce Jonasson, a single father, has found the work flexibility invaluable not only as a CrowdStrike employee, but also as a leader working to build the most effective team possible. “There are really good people who need certain kinds of support to manage the lives that they have,” he says. “If you didn’t allow that, you’d be leaving them on the table, and people like me might be working somewhere else.”

These employees are experiencing first hand how CrowdStrike is redefining the company culture—and in doing so, helping employees thrive in every sphere of their lives.

Creating a more flexible environment

A high-stakes field like cybersecurity might seem to lend itself to a hard-charging, round-the-clock culture. But the company’s true remote-first approach and unlimited flex time allow each employee to work in the environment and on the schedule that best suits their lives—and to rest and recharge as needed.

Lam says the ability to adjust her schedule on the fly—and having her team’s support to do so—has practically eliminated the usual stressors of work-life balance. “With a child at home, you never know when you need to drop off for a little bit,” she says. “But I’m never wondering whether people are actually OK with me stepping out to take care of my kids. It’s actually encouraged.”

For Aldridge, the flexibility has drastically improved his mental health. While working remotely for another company, he says, “I felt like I would work all day, and then my real work of parenting began.”

Since joining CrowdStrike in August of 2021, “I’m happier, and I don’t struggle with my mental health as much,” Aldridge says. “Now I have the ability to care for and connect with my daughter throughout the day if I choose. Even though I switch back and forth more, there’s less feeling like I’m always distracted—neither work nor home are getting short shrift.”

But CrowdStrike’s approach isn’t limited to just parenting tasks. “When I feel I’m just not being productive, I can put up a Slack notification and take care of dishes, laundry, or other things around the house,” Jonasson says. “Nobody is looking over my shoulder and saying you have to punch in and punch out at a certain time.”

Building supportive teams

Plenty of companies claim to encourage flexibility and time off, but too often a lack of support systems makes it impossible to truly log off without shirking your responsibilities or leaving colleagues in the lurch. At CrowdStrike, collaboration and communication within and between teams help ensure the company is actually living up to its values, says Aldridge

“Between time off, sick days, and parenting needs, there are times when the whole team can’t all be present at the same time,” he says. “We’ve been able to cross-train each other, so our team can easily shoulder someone being out and help with work streams.” For example, when Lam and her family came down with COVID-19 in January 2022, her coworkers stepped up to take over the meetings she typically leads.

As a manager himself, Jonasson considers fostering a healthy workplace as a key element of his role. “If I see someone online too long, or too often, I’ll send them a message to sign off,” he says. “They recognize that I’m paying attention.”

Over the long haul, he says, CrowdStrike’s approach pays dividends for the company in the form of talented, high-achieving employees who are compassionate. “As long as people do their work and are active and engaged, why wouldn’t you want to give them that flexibility?” adds Jonasson, who’s only had one member of his team leave the company—“and he retired!”

Updated 9/6/2022