As companies re-envision when and where work happens, there are many questions that arise. Executives and HR professionals may ask themselves how the company’s benefits need to change, how the use of office space will evolve, and what employees need to work effectively in remote or hybrid environments.
As companies tackle these questions and many more, how they respond will impact the way that individuals commute and use our roads and transportation systems around the region.
ATP’s Employer Services team recently hosted a webinar, Lower Costs and Better Commutes, which featured a panel of HR professionals in Arlington and discussed how they’re meeting the changing needs of their employees as they think about what returning to the office looks like. You can watch the entire webinar below, or read on to explore the highlights.
Listen to Your Employees
The first step in creating a feasible plan is to collect feedback from staff to ensure that programs you create are meeting their needs.
“It’s so important temperature check and take a pulse for where your employees are,” says Iveta Bakalova, HR Lead at NatureServe, “by surveying our staff regularly, we’ve been able to get a temperature check of where they stand and what they prefer.”
This has allowed their organization to think about downsizing to accommodate the reduced number of staff expected in the office and as a result save on real estate costs.
Create a Program for All
The conversations we had with each organization showed that their benefit packages were quite different before the pandemic compared to now. That said, the changes put in place have created some common threads among each organization such as:
- Allocating funds to employees to purchase supplies while working remotely
- Retaining employees living outside the DC region
- Putting family first to create programs that fit everyone’s needs.
“We’ve really been able to accommodate the flexibility of different unique needs of each employee”, highlights Alan Randall, Human Resources Manager at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). Their office remains open for those that desire to come in but also has been able to accommodate remote work, moving their two subsidiaries to a virtual setting and retaining employees who are outside of the region.
Organizations today are also incorporating a culture of flexibility. Our panelists discussed various work schedules, such as condensed workweeks that give everyone back some time to spend on activities they enjoy with family and friends.
NatureServe has shifted to a 35-hour workweek, allowing staff to work shorter days on Fridays. In Iveta’s words, “everyone of course is work focused, but you have to care for your employees and understand that they have personal things going on, that they have families to take care of.”
Carole Mitchell, Senior Manager, Program Support Services at Common App, which is now a virtual first organization, also shared how her organization has approached flexibility: "We are so invested in our employees and how our employees feel and how comfortable they are that we said from the beginning health and family first. You take care of your health, you take care of your family, get your work done but if you have to get it done in the middle of the night we don’t care. You get it done whenever it works for you.”
The Impact of Hybrid Work
The organizations highlighted in our discussion have seen real impacts to their bottom lines, in employee retention, recruitment, and real estate costs.
As one in four employees have left a job due to a bad commute, more telework and schedule options means less stress, healthier employees, and ultimately less traffic for those who must or who choose to commute. Carole puts it best: “We’ve gotten people off the road and its made for a greater quality of life. I live in Richmond so I don’t have to commute anymore so it’s wonderful.”
ATP supports organizations who are hoping to improve the commuting experience or enhance telework options for employees and provides a number of related services.
Whether you want to assist those commuting to the office with a transportation benefit, revamp your telework policy, or help employees take advantage of other options like ridesharing or biking, these benefits and programs can have real financial impacts that help your organization put your money where it matters, and reduce spending related to employee turnover, facilities, health care, and more.
To hear more about how these organizations are responding to employees’ changing needs with the help of ATP, listen to the webinar at the top, then download our employer toolkit below to get started.