Although it is football’s off-season, there is no shortage of both daily tasks and long-term planning for the San Francisco 49ers to do. The need for social distancing means the organization has turned to tech — like the remote work tool Citrix ShareFile — to accomplish its goals.
With the NFL draft looming, collaboration and cooperation between all the departments within the organization, based in Santa Clara, Calif., are important to maintain.
Brent Schoeb, chief revenue officer for the team, said the 49ers’ relationship with Citrix began six years ago, with the opening of Levi’s Stadium in the heart of Silicon Valley. The organization, he said, sought the assistance of numerous tech firms — help that has proven essential as quarantines have shuttered physical offices.
Schoeb recently spoke about the remote work tools that the organization employs to stay up and running through the present public health crisis.
Which Citrix products are you using to maintain continuity through the quarantine?
Brent Schoeb: We’re leaning on [Citrix] heavily right now to keep the business side — and the football side, to a certain degree — of our organization up and running. We’re using Citrix ShareFile [which securely stores and sends large files to a variety of endpoints], and we’re using Citrix Endpoint Management as well.
We’re leaning on our other technology partners as well, whether it’s SAP, Intel, Cisco, Yahoo — you name it.
Have you had difficulties adjusting to remote work?
Schoeb: The fortunate thing is we’re in Silicon Valley. Work from home isn’t a brand-new concept in the region. With our sales force, they’re out of the office a lot anyway. When we travel for road games, we bring a pretty big contingent with us through those extended weekends.
We had some experience, but obviously now, not being able to go to the office in any capacity has been challenging. Just that face-to-face interaction [is something] we’re definitely missing.
On the sports side, we’re a people business at the end of the day. We’re a community connector. Those items, we’re still working through.
What sort of day-to-day tasks are needed to keep the organization running smoothly?
Schoeb: We have to make sure we can still share files: presentations, documents [and] images we post on social media. We’re working on some capital improvement projects for Levi’s Stadium, so we have design docs for that. Architecture docs are significantly sized and are very dense files, so we lean on Citrix for that.
Instead of being in the office, with a quick handoff, to use a football analogy, we definitely need some long-distance passes. Our [workforce] has gone not only to the Bay Area but also, in some cases, [back] home across the country. It was more important than ever to lean on Citrix to help us share all our files across all departments, both on the football and business side.
The NFL draft is set to be held remotely this year. How do you see that impacting your organization?
Schoeb: I don’t want to speak too much on behalf of our [general manager], John Lynch, and [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], but what I do know is that our football operations team is mandated by the NFL to conduct the draft in a work-from-home capacity. The NFL is bringing together all their league technology partners to pull this off — to make sure every team is ready and it’s as seamless as it can be.
I was joking the other day that Yahoo and its fantasy football brand are a partner of ours, and we’re taking the fan fantasy football draft and [making it] a reality on the NFL side as well. From that standpoint, I know more information is coming from the league to make sure we can pull it off and there’s fair competitiveness across all teams.
On the fan side, we’re hosting a draft party. We’re actually doing a second-screen experience, through 49ers.com and social, that’s going to be presented by Levi’s. We’ll have exclusive content, be tracking our picks [and have] analysis of our draft picks. We’ll plug in some of our talent from the broadcast side to make sure our content is as exciting as possible.
What do you think will be the main lessons coming out of this situation?
Schoeb: Companies traditionally find working from the office very important. I think what companies are seeing is that there are scenarios where you can be just as, if not more, efficient — if you cut out the crazy commute times in the Bay Area — when you’re working from home in some capacity.
I think what we’re all learning is that you can still be effective at your job, but there’s no doubt that sense of family is hard to replicate when not in the office.
There’s a lot of creativity happening, that’s for sure.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.