Office policy as branding

When Apple’s director of machine learning Ian Goodfellow resigned from the company last month due to his return to the office, it should have been a wake-up call for executives everywhere. In the post-COVID-19 world, the job characteristic that employees care about most is the flexibility to work from anywhere. There is an overwhelming amount data to substantiate this. Still, many executives would rather put their blinders on and pretend things will go back to the way they were before March 2020. Instead of giving their employees what they really want, they’re doubling down on their swag, indulgent mission statements, and open bars to push employees back. lure them to their beautiful new offices.

These executives believe that their efforts build a brand that will attract employees. But what they don’t realize is that things have changed. Today, a company’s office policy is its brand – dot.

This was explicitly acknowledged last year by a group of Apple employees in a open letter to CEO Tim Cook about the company’s return policy. These Apple employees everywhere spoke for knowledge workers when they wrote:

Without the inclusiveness that flexibility brings, many of us feel like we have to choose between a combination of our family, our well-being, and the opportunity to do our best work, or be part of Apple. This is a decision none of us take lightly, and one that many would rather not make.

If a company like Apple, which has created one of the strongest brands ever and is one of the largest market cap companies in the world, can’t retain talent because of its return-to-office policy, do you really think other companies will? to do? is it much better? I doubt it. Executives who fail to recognize that all the branding tricks in the world don’t work without flexible work policies will bleed talent until their company bleeds to death. On the other hand, companies that embrace flexible working arrangements as a core element of their brand identity will enjoy a one-time hiring opportunity by attracting talent away from companies that ignore the needs of their employees.

A company’s decision on its work arrangements takes precedence over any other business function. For example, high employee satisfaction is directly correlated with high productivity, which often depends on whether they are given flexible work arrangements. In addition, dissatisfied employees will have a negative image of the company itself, which can have a negative effect on sales given the increasing importance consumers place on working conditions at their favorite brands. While external and internal branding efforts were once separate, they are now closely intertwined. This means that the choice of work arrangements affects not only recruitment, but also productivity and income.

To be clear, implementing a flexible work policy doesn’t necessarily preclude having an office or building a great culture. Essentially, it’s about giving employees options and the support they need, regardless of the choices they make. This is the foundation of a brand that employees want to work for. Everything else – the logos, swag, extras, website – is all window dressing.

This can be hard to swallow for companies that have put so much time, money and effort into building their brand around nice-to-haves rather than what employees really care about. But changing course and building a brand around flexible working doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few changes businesses can make right away.

Reallocation of resources from offices to events

A ‘work-from-anywhere’ policy doesn’t have to come at the expense of a great company culture. The key is to shift resources that would otherwise have gone to office rental and facility management to experiences that bring employees together on a semi-regular basis. There are many forms this can take, ranging from an annual retreat to a quarterly gathering. Most importantly, strengthen ties across the company by giving employees the opportunity to hang out in a fun and relaxing environment.

Benefits for throwing away supplies

Many companies spend huge amounts of money on perks that are rarely used. Instead, they should shift these expenses towards buying supplies for employees that allow them to work anywhere. This could be a mobile Wi-Fi plan, an upgraded laptop, a better desk for their home office, or a pass to a local coworking space. Better yet, just give the employees money to spend on upgrading their work from anywhere and let them decide how they want to use it.

Choose a policy and stick to it

In recent years, a number of Fortune 500 companies have changed their minds about returning to office policies, creating uncertainty and stress for their employees. The best way for a company to show that they care about their employees is by being trustworthy. Whether a company decides to implement a work anywhere policy or wants its employees to return to the office five days a week, they must clearly communicate their expectations and stick to them. The rules should apply equally to everyone – an organization where leadership is allowed to work remotely and employees have to come to the office will only generate resentment.

There is a real opportunity in the Great layoff for companies building a brand based on a work anywhere policy. Some companies, such as 3M, Twitter, and Dropbox, recognized this early on and proactively empowered their employees to work forever anywhere, and I’ve seen firsthand the incredible effects of embracing a lifestyle at my own company. work from anywhere. † Public relations, like many other industries, faces labor shortages. But since moving to a company that can work anywhere, the quality of our applicants has skyrocketed. When we surveyed new hires about what brought them to our organization, they consistently cited our flexible working policy as an important factor in their decision.

So, before you spend money on your brand, start with your work policy.

Vijay chattha is the founder and CEO of VSCco-founder of the 100kPledge and WorldWithoutCovid, and general partner of recently launched VSC Ventures.

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