Jason Monberg is the Founder and CEO of Presence, a digital product and services development agency. He oversees the technical strategy and implementation of projects, partnering with innovation and business teams from companies such as Google and Capital One to organizations including the US Navy, Department of Energy, and PG&E. Jason previously founded and ran Carbon Five, a consulting firm specializing in agile software development for Fortune 500 clients and start-ups. He has also established and managed engineering and product organizations for multiple venture backed startups. Jason has directly worked on over 200 digital products over the last two decades. Jason holds a bachelor's degree in sociology with a concentration in computer science and electronic music from Wesleyan University.
In all things, we strive to be human first.
A better world of work means companies where people can show up as themselves and contribute meaningfully.
In a sense, our name goes before us– a name like Presence makes it pretty natural for us to speak about presence and authenticity, two of our core values. Speaking of presence– we’ve really missed being physically present with one another since 2020. We’ve made strides towards maintaining a human-first culture remotely, but we definitely look forward to more time spent in the same space again.
Presence has long held a goal for at least 20% of our business to be in support of nonprofit and social impact organizations. Our staff and contractors tell us it’s important that the work they are doing is having a net positive impact in the world. For this reason, we intentionally diversify the type of projects our staff and contractors participate in. Someone might be on a financial services project for a few months, then when that product ships they’ll join a team building an environmental product. Similarly, we support employees in new skill acquisition. If someone has been doing one thing for years and years and expresses interest in developing a new skill set, we’ll embed them on a project team where they can learn new skills.
A “return to work” as we first envisioned it in 2020 is not going to happen. Information-oriented businesses like ours will continue to embrace fully remote or hybrid work environments. As the remote/hybrid global workforce continues to take hold, we will see regional costs begin to normalize and we’ll see global costs begin to converge with US-based costs. Our global workforce will increasingly be impacted by national and global politics. We’re already seeing the effects of the Russian war on Ukraine in terms of destabilized Ukrainian teams and rising costs for businesses in Eastern Europe. I hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something similar in the US among regions or states.
Smaller companies are going to increasingly need to take a stand and be held accountable for how they do business, and with whom. I also mentioned earlier we miss being in person. While it’s certainly more convenient to be remote… it’s healthier for us as humans to gather. Over time, we may see folks struggle with isolation. This is an equity issue, too: those who are underrepresented in tech are less likely to be well supported by their companies.
The onus is on leaders to proactively cultivate and maintain an inclusive company culture across miles and time zones– and to get creative about ways to get folks together in person again.
As I’ve alluded to, I feel the biggest challenge currently is how to truly make the work experience better– truly better, not just more convenient– for people who are distributed and working remotely. We’ve invested in employee events, virtual parties, lunch and learns, new technology, and we’re still finding it a challenge to maintain our culture across a distributed team. That’s our biggest challenge currently. I’m looking forward to experiencing the creativity and innovation that will help us solve it.
Be human first. Remember that you are recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining humans.
Prioritize taking care of people at your business… and I mean really take care of them. They don’t need foosball tables, they need healthcare. They need their CEO to take a stand against injustice when they see it.
We won’t do this perfectly at first, but it’s important to move in the right direction and really try. You can course correct as you go.
We admire the work of Rhodes Perry Consulting. Rhodes is a champion of presence and authenticity and is dedicated to helping organizations build psychological safety and create environments where people belong. Rhodes hosts the annual Belonging at Work Summit, which we strongly recommend!
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