by Sonu Batra, Kai Andrews

The Challenge

In order to attract and keep the best talent in a fiercely competitive labor market, a leading national financial firm knew it had to bring its in-office work policy up to date. Point B came in to build a roadmap to implement flexible work at the company, which provides retirement plans, benefits, annuities and life insurance. The process required people training, change management, new technology and updates to physical space, remote work policy and business processes.

Listening to employees

In a poll, the company asked its own employees what would make work better. “Work from home” was the answer that kept bubbling to the top. And the same line was coming from prospective job candidates, who were being offered flexible work arrangements at rival employers.

The push came mainly from Millennials, who have come to see remote work and flexible hours as must-haves. And with Millennials now comprising a larger share1 of the labor force than any other generation, companies have no choice but to listen.

Companies should realize that this is not just a policy and it’s not just a document. Flexible work programs should be seen as an opportunity to rethink the way people work. Remote work isn’t simply about doing the same thing from home. It’s a chance to automate, remove waste, and make things better for employees in an organization.

Making flexibility a worker’s right

After identifying key pain points and drawing up an implementation plan, Point B and the company chose two teams to participate in the pilot, in which employees would work from home two to three days per week.

Our customer wanted to make the new work policies a right, not a privilege. That meant human resources needed to bring clarity around the expectations both for managers and other employees. The teams set up a change management and communication plan to deal with any concerns both before and after they arose.

From the beginning, it was understood that the new work policies would be driven by managers.

Hence managers received higher volume of engagement, communications and support. This enabled and empowered them to lead teams through the transition effectively and with confidence. Together we designed a series of webinars to educate each of the company’s more than 300 managers on how to support employees who took advantage of the new policies.

Then there was the technology. Did the conference rooms support people who were joining meetings remotely? Did employees have everything they needed – from keyboards to extra monitors, to space that was conducive to getting work done, that is free from noise, distractions and hazards – to establish a home office? The company created a hardware acquisition process that let employees select and gather the hardware they needed to be effective away from the office.

Behind these details was an understanding that the modern workspace is not just an office, factory or even home office. Today’s office follows employees into their cars, on planes, even to the sidelines of kids’ soccer games.

As the pilot progressed, we tracked key performance indicators and pulse surveys from employees, and managers which helped to highlight areas that needed work prior to expanding the program.

Following a successful 8-week pilot, we created a plan to roll out the program across the company. The firm was divided into 9 groups, each of which will implement the policy in 6-8 week phases over a six-month period. As part of the transition, Point B worked closely with company leaders to prepare them for complete and successful ownership of their new initiative. 

Quantifying progress

Once the program is fully implemented, our customer will be in a better position to attract and keep the growing share of employees who expect the ability to work remotely. Thanks to the flexible work plan, the company will also be able to grow without necessarily increasing its office space.

Company leadership will be watching how the new program has changed company culture by tracking if employees continue to work from home, their satisfaction with work and with the new program and work productivity improvements overall. They will also watch absenteeism rates and will study recruiting metrics to see if the program is attracting job candidates.