Working from Home and Adjusting to the New Normal for Businesses

Remote work is perhaps the most significant change to the world of work brought about by the pandemic. Yet too few businesses have adjusted—or even considered—their culture accordingly, says Alyssa Gruber of Hudson Gate Partners in a new report. 

March 25, 2022 – Company culture is not easily encapsulated or often prioritized, even when staff are working in the office, interfacing in real time with the company philosophy. Working from home has revealed not only how few organizations have refined their company culture sufficiently, but also how few have yet to even consider company culture, according to Alyssa Gruber, head of administration and management search at Hudson Gate Partners. “What is salient now is the laser-focus on building and fortifying existing culture, and also, the focus on effectively communicating company ethos to employees, who are working both remotely and in-office,” she said “The time for only conceptually workshopping culture is far past. There is an immediacy to the need for well-articulated values, tenants, and policies which employees not only hear about, but experience.”

As an example, data trends show that employees seek to feel that their employer’s policies align with their purported company ethos. “If a company speaks to championing work-life balance but fails to allow latitude should an employee need to work from home one day, then employees begin to feel distrustful of what they are hearing,” said Ms. Gruber. “Culture is an active ever evolving word, not just some policies and slogans offered sporadically to appease employees and legal alike.”

Transparent exchange between employees and key human capital decision-makers is essential to the achievement of a robust and sustainable company culture, according to Ms. Gruber. “Employees seek to feel that their voice has impact on the company for which they work. Human capital executives need to create not only an open-door policy, but an environment which supports said policy. If staff do not feel heard, safe, or encouraged to participate and offer feedback, no amount of culture policy making will affect positive change ultimately.”

Alyssa Gruber joined Hudson Gate Partners in 2021 as the head of the firm’s administrative services practice. She has over a decade of recruiting experience in the alternative asset management silo, focused on administrative, human resources, marketing, and investor relations roles. Throughout her career, Ms. Gruber has built and managed administrative recruiting divisions from the ground up, at both start-up and established recruitment firms in New York City. Her core clients are primarily hedge funds, private equity firms, family offices, and investment banks. Ms. Gruber also has deep expertise working with technology start-ups, media conglomerates, and global pharmaceutical companies.

Ms. Gruber noted that companies on the “bleeding edge of radically employee-oriented culture” tend to offer the following:

  • Flexible work schedules and work conditions.
  • Acknowledgment and reward for extraordinary employee contribution.
  • Robust benefit packages.
  • Performance metrics and bonuses for non-revenue generating roles.
  • Capacity to contribute to 401k.
  • Employee assistance programs to provide staff with mental health resources.
  • Social options such as monthly gatherings, outings, or in-house topical summits.
  • Growth resources such as in-house trainings, educational reimbursement, and succession plans.
  • Diversity and cultural sensitivity training.
  • Ability to build equity.
  • Hot-desking options.
  • Health and wellness offerings.
  • Periodic town hall style meetings where employees can offer feedback.
  • Clearly articulated ethos.
  • Access to childcare solutions.

“Staff who are working remotely need to know that they are being appreciated and acknowledged,” said Ms. Gruber. “The onus of responsibility for checking in is on managers; they need to be regularly talking to their staff about their pain points and gauging levels of capacity. Companies need to ensure that remote staff have the resources required, and access to help if issues arise. And there needs to be an attitude of humanism adopted across the organization, which affords compassion during these unprecedented times. Happy employees are productive loyal employees. Culture needs to be so clear it is felt, especially by remote workers,” she said.

Putting in More Hours

People often say that when you work from home you end up putting in more hours. However, Ms. Gruber says that the question is not about more hours, per se, but how the hours are stretched. “One concept I talk to my clients about is how to have clear work/home boundaries that are reasonable and adaptable,” she said. “What often occurs is that there are more daily non-work interruptions at home, so the workday can become extended. This can cause people to have sporadic hours worked and it is hard for many to turn off work into the evening. What is key is that managers clearly communicate to their staff that there is no expectation that work is being done round the clock. Employees need to have work life balance championed and modeled by their leaders.”

Related: New Workforce Models Bring New Challenges in the Next Normal 

During the pandemic, search firms cut back on travel. This appears to be more permanent with companies realizing the money saved and the effectiveness of technology such as Zoom. For searches that require executive relocation, travel will always be necessary to a certain extent, certainly for the candidate receiving the offer, according to Ms. Gruber. “However, the days of flying multiple people out for rounds of in-person interviews is largely over,” she said. “The technology we have now is simply too good and efficient not to continue heavily leveraging it.”

Working with Clients

During this time, Hudson Gate itself has adjusted to how it works with clients. “We are mindful of the ever-burgeoning needs of our clients, who are navigating a myriad of novel hiring hurdles,” said Ms. Gruber. “Remote workers, COVID testing, employee policy changes, and market demands all require adaptability and a solution-focused mindset. We are consistently engaged in dialogue with our clients about how to create effective processes and ensure successful hires,” she said. “We also are acutely attuned to the nuances of goodness-of-fit culturally and have integrated that into our assessment matrices.”

“We are offering increased resources to our clients around succession planning, compensation, and hiring conditions,” said Ms. Gruber. “Most importantly, is that we are emphasizing our true thought partnerships with our clients: we are leveraging our expertise to be an unrivaled resource.”

Hudson Gate Partners provides executive search services across the finance, communications, marketing services, technology, and healthcare industries. The search firm is headquartered in Water Mill, NY and has additional offices in Connecticut and Florida.

Related: Future Insights for Engagement, Retention and Communication

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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