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Flexible Work Arrangements: The Time is Now

DEI + Culture / 8.12.21 / By Jon Alhart

I miss our dog. One of the bright spots of COVID is that I was able to work from home with Carter as he went through the last year and a half of his life.

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What a treat it was to give him treats as I took a break between meetings or hear the sounds of our kids playing – ok sometimes too loudly – while on a call (the power of the famous mute button).

Carter passed away in late-June. The house feels empty. Silent. The kids are at camps and daycare. Working from home has become – quiet. At times, lonely. This is why it’s been nice to head into the office at Dixon Schwabl now as well, to be around colleagues, catch up with friends in the kitchen, be inspired with ideas simply by being in our dynamic space.

And therein lies the new normal. I don’t want to work in an office five days per week anymore. I don’t want to be five days remote either. What I – and many – strive for, is flexibility. I want to be able to work from anywhere.

Salesforce even has a VP of Work from Anywhere, Matt Artz. His main charge? “Reimagining how we work at Salesforce.”

Matt says – “Work as we once knew it is no longer merely a place: It’s a state of mind. Even before life took a turn, we were already moving away from depending on physical space to connect with our colleagues. Work is in our pockets. Work is on our laptop.”

Twitter is allowing employees to be fully remote if they wish. LinkedIn is reimagining how it works by giving people greater freedom to decide how they want to return to the office, if at all. There is no specific return date to the office or set amount for minimum amount of time to be in the office. Each team will decide on its own what work model works best for them. Microsoft, LinkedIn’s parent company, wants team members to work where they feel most comfortable.

At Dixon Schwabl, we’ve reimagined how we work. We went from a 100% in the office culture to now having team members across the country. Whether you’re in Florida or Avon, it doesn’t matter. You have the choice to be 100% “anywhere” (it’s time to eliminate the terms remote and remote employees), 100% in the office, or a mix of both. And the top word, the biggest word in the old word cloud that came back during our first-round of feedback on this topic, the appreciation of flexibility.

Flexibility is the key. Gallup found that “54% of office workers say they would leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.” A Stanford study discovered the “productivity increase of remote workers is equivalent to an extra day per week per person!” The stats can be found anywhere with a simple Google search. Remote work…works. And it’s here to stay. Before the pandemic, only 14% of organizational leaders across all industries believed their company could support virtual work. Now, according to a Harvard Business Review study, that number is 42%. Still too low! But rising.

Things I have heard, during this new way of treating work as a state of mind vs. a physical space:

  • “I feel like I’m a better parent.”
  • “Some days, I simply get more work done without a commute and being able to work from home.”
  • “I feel healthier.”
  • “I’m less stressed.”

Michele Schneider, senior vice president of global workplace services at Salesforce, says: “When I go to the office, it’s with a purpose. I’m not going to the office, slogging in four or five days a week, because my manager’s there and I want to be seen or I feel like I have to go. I will be thoughtful about when I go.”

Be thoughtful. Be flexible. Continue to be open to change. And always, have fun. You can have fun in the office with your colleagues, or at home during those coffee breaks when you throw the dog an extra treat, give the kids an extra hug.

And remember that comment I made about the quiet in our house? Well, it’s not so quiet right now (early August), as our entire family of five is quarantined. My wife and I are vaccinated, but our daughter (7) contracted COVID at a summer camp. Our boys tested negative, but it’s a team effort when it comes to quarantine.

Thankfully, all of us are healthy. It’s just a reminder that this pandemic, as Yogi Berra would say, “ain’t over til it’s over.” And even when it’s over, it has still created a new normal we haven’t fully grasped yet in terms of what it will be.

So for a bit, the five of us are back together—at home. All day. Every day. Working. Laughing. Crying. Yelling. Screaming. Is screaming the same as yelling?

But we’re not “treating’” anymore. We sure do miss our Carter.

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Author
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Jon Alhart

Jon unites people and resources, piecing together the full marketing puzzle to drive impact in emerging digital spaces. He’s a graduate of Ithaca College and is certified in Advanced Google Analytics, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, Google Ads Search and Marketo. And he wraps all of that in 20+ years of nonprofit, sports, events, financial services, healthcare, retail and telecom experience. Including giving his time to Baden Street Settlement.