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Durable Identity: Employee-Friendly SaaS for Life Changes
September 7, 2021

Changing jobs is a stressful event. From continuity of healthcare benefits to wrapping up your final couple weeks, there is often an endless checklist of offboarding items you need to have in order before you leave.

One thing that often gets lost in the shuffle is ensuring you have access to the essential services and tools that you might want to continue using once you've left your job. Your stress only escalates when you realize you’re locked out of a tool because you were signed up via your work email. 

This problem can be even worse if your job change occurs suddenly, and you lose access to your work email without notice. All too often, this creates a headache for getting access to the services you want to continue using.

Life changes -- and job transitions -- are more frequent than ever, certainly more than you can plan around. But there's a new concept in SaaS that's making it easier for you to navigate these changes without having to start over at every turn. We call it durable identity.

In this post, learn more about what durable identity is, and what it means for the future of work.

What is “durable identity”

“Durable identity” is a concept that has been around for many years, but we might be the first people to put a name to it! As it might sound, durable identity is the idea that your accounts and identity should be able to survive a job transition or life change. Whether you're changing careers, taking a break from work, or going out on your own to launch a startup, your logins to various essential SaaS tools should be...well...durable!

Note that we're not talking about bringing company data with you when you transition to a new job. If anything, it's great to shake off the old stuff when you make a career change! Durable identity is really about your login, your personal settings and preferences, and your access to those tools when you leave a job.

Durable identity at Reclaim

The best way to put this into perspective is to walk you through how and why we do this at Reclaim. For those who are unfamiliar, Reclaim is a smart time blocking platform for Google Calendar that allows you to make time for your important priorities across both work and life. At Reclaim, you connect both your work and personal calendars to merge your availability for actual work-life balance, and create and manage both personal and professional tasks and routines through a single platform.

Oftentimes, Reclaim users will sign up for Reclaim using their work email and calendar. After all, it tends to be where most of the action is, and where they have the most challenges in blocking time for their priorities. But that also means that if their job changes, and they lose access to their work email, there's potential to lose access to Reclaim and all their personal routines and preferences with it.

This is where Reclaim's conception of durable identity comes in. In Reclaim, you can connect multiple emails and calendars to your account. If you've set your work email and calendar to be your main Reclaim account credential -- and then lose access to that work email when you change jobs -- Reclaim will simply give you the ability to "swap" that credential out for your personal one.

That means that you can continue to use Reclaim under your personal email, even after you've lost access to your work email. Once you start your new job, you can once again swap your personal email / calendar for your work email / calendar, and Reclaim will start doing its magic on your work schedule.

When you change your main account email and calendar in Reclaim, your Habits, sync policies, and Tasks come with you. It's basically a way to toggle between jobs without having to worry about losing the stuff that you use to keep your schedule on track.

Why is durable identity important?

Durable identity is important because careers are becoming more and more fluid, and life changes are as well. Job changes are also happening more frequently, with the average person changing jobs every 4.1 years. There are dramatic differences in tenure by age -- workers between 25-34 only stayed at a job for an average of 2.8 years while employees between the ages of 55-64 averaged 9.9 years. And in 2010, only 5.7% of people changed jobs, while that number jumped to 10.9% in both 2017 and 2018.

This data probably doesn't come as much of a surprise: you've probably noticed (and experienced yourself) that people are making job changes more and more often these days. In our view, this increase in career fluidity means that it's even more important for software to make it easy for users to transition from gig to gig.

From the very beginning, we saw this problem crop up often for Reclaim users. When COVID really hit home in early 2020, this issue became even more prevalent -- users would constantly have to re-create their Reclaim account from scratch if they left a job or made a life change that cut access to their work email.

We spent months improving this experience, giving users the ability to migrate their account to other emails in the process. It was good for them, but it was also good for our own analytics and account architecture. It's really difficult to do things like measure active users or engagement if you're trying to track the same user across multiple accounts!

Durable identity is good for users, certainly, but it's also good for companies. Instead of dealing with IT requests for users to transition logins to a personal email, or dealing with issues around migration or merging accounts, durable identity built into SaaS applications helps to relieve the burden on company admins. If software has a graceful way to deal with job changes, there's nothing that IT administrators need to worry about in terms of preserving access for employees that are leaving the company.

Companies that do “durable identity” well

As we mentioned earlier, Reclaim isn't the first application to implement durable identity. There are several products that have done it very well for a long time, and you've probably benefited from it without knowing it.

So who’s doing durable identity well today? Some software has had to provide durable identity due to legal requirements. For example, HR software requires that employees continue to have access for many years after they leave the company so they can acquire past W2s and other financial data in the future for tax purposes.

But there are also lots of companies that have implemented durable identity for the reasons we mentioned earlier: it guarantees that someone can continue to use the software without having to worry about maintaining a separate identity for work vs. personal emails.

Here are the top 5 SaaS applications that are rocking durable identity today:

1. 1Password

1Password is a password manager, digital vault, form filler and secure digital wallet. You can see why this is something you’d leverage across both your work and personal life! This app makes it easy to store and organize your passwords across multiple accounts, with the ease of managing through a single login.

If you have a 1Password Business account, you’re eligible for a free 1Password Families membership that you can use and share with up to 5 family members so everyone stays safe and secure. You can use the same login for both your work and personal vaults which makes it easy to access and manage everything you need. And while your work vault will be revoked if you leave a 1Password Business access, your 1Password Families account stays with you.

Additionally, if you're paying for your own 1Password account, and join a company that has 1Password Business, you won't get charged for 1Password anymore. When you leave the company, 1Password will automatically downgrade you back to your individual license and start invoicing you again.

2. Gusto

Gusto is an online payroll service for small businesses that makes it easy to onboard, pay, insure, and support your growing team. As an HR tool, Gusto not only supports you across work and personal accounts, it also supports you across multiple job accounts and history through Gusto!

When your employer invites you to the platform, you can work off of your work email and still set your personal email as your main account email so if you ever lose access to your work address, you can still log in and manage your personal payroll, insurance, and tax information. If you’re starting at a new company that uses Gusto, you can easily switch between companies to see details for each profile or account all through your single account and login.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media platform and largest professional network in the world. With over 750 million members using the platform to build, engage, and grow in their professional careers, LinkedIn is built to withstand life changes.

Adding a secondary email is extremely simple at LinkedIn. All you have to do is visit your settings to add both your professional and personal email addresses, and choose which you want to be your primary form of communication. If you ever lose access to your main account, just log in with your backup and continue without a hitch!

4. GitHub

GitHub is an open source software development repository and community supporting over 65 million developers across the world. Home to companies, hobbyists, and amateurs alike, GitHub is leveraged as a command line interface, hosting service, GUI, and wiki down to a simple task management tool for projects.

As a developer, you probably live in GitHub for work, but it’s likely your personal development hub for side projects too. GitHub also functions as a social networking site for programmers, where you really build your profile and personal brand as you develop in your career. Fortunately, it’s easy to manage a personal and professional account as one on GitHub. You can easily add a backup email so you can reset your password if you lose access to your primary account. 

Even in organizations that use GitHub Enterprise, it's very common to allow you to use your personal Github account for working in private GHE repositories, because the company can always revoke access to those repos in the future. GitHub also has a best practices doc to help you smoothly transition from a career change and clean up your personal and professional repositories in advance.

5. Slack

Slack is a team and group communication platform that allows you to connect by direct messages, group chats, and video. While originally designed for teams, Slack has quickly expanded into the community space allowing individuals to join different Slack workspaces and communities across the globe to share and discuss interesting topics.

Your professional network of communities is probably something you’ll want to take with you to a new job! Each Slack workspace you join or create will be associated with a specific email address, but you can switch and work through multiple workspaces under the same account. While your professional Slack workspace should be under your work email, you can join any number of Slack communities under your personal email and collaborate through both without resistance. If you joined a workspace you want to take with you through your work email, you can change your email address from your settings for that workspace.

What’s the risk of adding durable identity to your SaaS?

There are some instances where durable identity might not make sense for your users. As the lines between life and work become increasingly blurred and fluid, however, we believe that more and more software will have to contend with some form of durable identity so that users can continue to get value out of your service after they’ve changed jobs. This is where durable identity is really more of an opportunity for companies than it is a risk.

Growing a great SaaS product is all about long-term, committed, engaged and happy users. Part of that user experience means making it simple for people to stay engaged with your product even after they've made a life change or career transition. Why not make it easier on your users to bring your app with them to their new company, or use it as an individual user in between gigs?

So what do you think? Is durable identity an opportunity for your SaaS tool? Let us know if it is, why it’s not, or another great SaaS app that’s doing durable identity well today! We want to hear every side and perspective - share your take with us on Twitter at @reclaimai.

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