Many companies have had to innovate and evolve during the coronavirus pandemic, and Palo Alto Networks is no exception. Faced with mass remote work and employees simultaneously juggling life responsibilities like never before, the Santa Clara, California–based company opted to lean into flexible work by announcing in May 2020 their new FLEXWORK program, which prioritizes employee over the employer, and provides more flexibility and personalization around their experience at work. Palo Alto Networks also plans to rethink workplace perks for a new and remote future.
We asked, Anastasia Dobrovolski, who's currently an engineer at Palo Alto Networks, how the organization's new program has affected her work-life balance and happiness on the job, and what she'd say to other women interested in joining the Palo Alto Networks team.
Sr QA & Automation Engineer at Palo Alto Networks for a year and a half
Her top three must-haves at work:
Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
Flexible Work Hours
The People You Work With (Palo Alto Networks' second-highest metric)
Tell us about your journey at Palo Alto Networks. How did you get started, what do you do now, and what makes you excited to work for Palo Alto Networks every day?
I started at Palo Alto Networks in September 2019 on the Cortex XDR Cloud Service & Analytics team. My work began with a very cool automation dev project, where I learned and improved my coding and technical skills. Now I’m working toward deeply knowing the system, constantly learning new features, and this is what keeps me happy and excited about my work. Continued growth and learning are definitely key to keeping an employee happy. Another very important thing is the people I work with. I have an amazing team and manager (very professional, and we have a great interpersonal relationship), and it’s definitely inspiring and pushes me forward. It makes my workday super fun.
As a result of mass remote work during the coronavirus pandemic, Palo Alto Networks announced its FLEXWORK plan in May 2020—a plan the company intends to stick with moving forward. How has this shift toward flexibility affected your ability to navigate work and life during this time?
I have to say, I’m very happy about FLEXWORK. It was always my dream to have an option to work from home! I never enjoyed commuting to an office. It’s time I can use for so many things, including work. I feel much more productive while working from home and very flexible with my working hours, and I always feel like I’m managing to accomplish more than I did in the office. I am pregnant now, so I really think it will help me in the future to manage my time with family and work. My manager shows full support in FLEXWORK, and our entire team has worked from home since March of 2020.
Flexibility often means focus on output (regardless of time of day) instead of time spent in the seat. Do you see that in your team’s culture now that Palo Alto Networks has prioritized flexibility?
During all my years in high tech, I’ve always worked extra hours when needed, and most of the people who worked with me did the same. The high tech industry can be very intensive and dynamic, and it totally fits my personality. I think FLEXWORK allows us to work in our comfortable environment, with flexible hours. If I need to make some personal arrangements during the day, I know that I’m coming home and I can continue working without worrying about catching the last train/bus home and without missing "work hours”. And if I need to go visit my family in Brazil (yes, I have family in Brazil), with FLEXWORK, I can go and stay with them for a month and continue working remotely and be able to enjoy both my work and my family.
How do you think the focus on flexibility will continue to impact you even after the pandemic is over?
I think Palo Alto Networks’ continued focus on employee choice and flexibility will only have a positive impact, for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned. Each person has their own priorities and responsibilities within their personal lives. After the pandemic is over, I’d be happy to meet my team and go into the office when needed, while other people might prefer to be back in the office full time. It’s all about what works best for the individual.
What advice would you give women interested in joining Palo Alto Networks?
I can only share my experience at Palo Alto Networks. I am very happy to be here, and it’s the best company I worked for so far. I love working with professionals, having a dynamic environment, always being busy with interesting projects and new technologies, and being around friendly and creative people. Another thing, which for me is very important, and I can tell from my past experiences not obvious in other companies, are you get recognition and an appreciation of your work here. I always feel that my work is being appreciated in my current position, and it is so encouraging and stimulating. So ladies, come join us and have a career where you feel like you truly make an impact. Palo Alto Networks is an amazing place to work, with great opportunities, new technologies, and cool people!