Working in a Post-COVID World
Executives at six winning companies talk about how COVID has changed their workplaces.
Jill S. Schwartz & Associates
No. 3 Small | Legal | Winter Park
Fun with Flexibility
As an essential business, Jill S. Schwartz & Associates never officially closed during the pandemic, but office traffic was reduced 50% through rotating schedules, allowing employees to do remote client consultations, mediations and depositions.
Since work performance has remained high, Managing Partner Jill Schwartz says the company’s future work environment will be more flexible.
She asked her staff to submit their schedule preferences going forward. Most prefer a combination of working from home and commuting to the office.
“The clients have been very happy, and the work is being done at a high level, so if I can provide some flexibility, I’m happy to do that.”
Schwartz is making creative use of Zoom for office functions. During the 2020 holiday season, she had an office party via Zoom.
“Instead of going to a restaurant, I sent food baskets to everybody, so they could have snacks during the party.”
Instead of gifts, Schwartz made a donation to the employees’ charity of choice. Plans for future virtual team-building sessions include a dinner party and a scavenger hunt.
“We’re trying to be flexible,” Schwartz says. “And it’s been a lot of fun.”
Citizens Property Insurance
No. 10 Large | Government Entity/Insurance | Tallahassee
Emphasis on Coaching
Though Citizens Property’s three Florida offices are open, most employees have been working remotely for more than a year. Citizens is now working on plans to create a hybrid work environment, says Violet Bloom, chief human resources officer.
“Our employees have demonstrated over the last 15-plus months that the business operations can get done with the majority working remotely,” she says.
The company plans to increase in-person operations in September, and managers are still working on what that looks like.
“We will have more in-office operations, but it will be focused on intentional opportunities to gather together in person. In other words, there will be a purpose and a benefit for coming into the office.”
When most of a company’s employees work remotely, the biggest challenge is staying connected, Bloom says.
Beginning in 2020, quarterly check-ins replaced midyear and annual performance reviews with an emphasis on coaching and professional development. The more frequent check-ins allow regular opportunities to clarify goals and expectations as well as ensure that employees have the resources, training and support they need.
The company has been using virtual chats and leadership development events to provide training and tips on managing in a hybrid work environment.
No. 4 Midsized | Employee Leasing Services | North Port
Creative Team BuildingClassified as an essential business, Worksite did not close its office during the pandemic, but it did send everyone home who could work from home.
“We thinned the herds,” says Chief Administration Officer Keith Weyher.
Today, between 17 and 20 full-time employees work from home, which will allow the company to hire needed staff without relocating to a larger facility.
“We’re growing, and we have to hire,” Weyher says.
Working in a hybrid world presents some challenges, however, for a company that likes to “spoil our employees.”
“We do monthly massages. We feed them every Monday. We do fun activities.”
Having some employees at home and some in the office, however, means getting creative with team building and other job perks. In addition to meetings, Worksite employees use Zoom and Microsoft Teams to play virtual games, such as bingo. Plus, when employees in the office participate in a teambuilding activity, the same materials are sent to remote workers, so they can also participate.
For example, on Earth Day, employees at the North Port office planted seeds to take home with them. Management sent the same seed kits to the homes of remote workers, so they could join the fun via live feed.
“Happy employees equal happy clients.”