Roundtable: Work From Home - Does it truly work for your business?Sep 29, 2022 03:26PM ● By Linda Persigehl
Post-lockdown, the work-from-home trend has been up for debate. Some businesses have mandated their employees to return to the office, citing better communication and collaboration. Others have been more flexible, saying they’ve found employee productivity and happiness have gone up since WFH became an option. We reached out to three local professionals to weigh in: Jean Faber, corporate director at Best Care EAP, a division of Methodist Health System; Molly Kuehl, a digital media insight strategist with Chatterkick; and Dan Claxton, president of Claxton Fireplace Center.
B2B: Tell us a bit about your business. Who are your customers?
JF: At Best Care EAP (employee assistance programs), we contract with over 300 employers nationwide to provide employer-paid, short-term mental health counseling to employees and their dependent family members. We do so on the premise that when an employee is struggling with a personal issue, stressor, or mental health issue, they are more distracted, more prone to workplace accidents, and more likely to leave the organization. When utilizing Best Care EAP services, clients’ outcomes show less absenteeism, more productivity, lower attrition, lower health insurance claims, and a healthier workforce.
MK: Chatterkick is a Midwest-based digital connection agency that serves clients from all over the U.S. and beyond. We help mid-sized businesses with marketing, sales, recruitment, and digital customer service. Our primarily remote internal team consists of 20 high-performing and consistently curious team members. Our headquarters are located in Sioux City, Iowa, where our internal teams meet and collaborate. We also have partnerships with approximately 20 creators through our Creative Network, which provides clients access to top-notch creatives who seamlessly collaborate and create with our internal team.
DC: We specialize in fireplace remodeling and have “Answers For All of Your Burning Questions.” We reface and replace them, convert them from wood to gas, and we add fireplaces to rooms. We are a one-stop-shop—we do all of the construction and finish work, including the initial design. We also provide color camera inspections of wood-burning flues and provide chimney sweeping services and major chimney and internal flue restorations. And we offer outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces/fire pits, and retractable awnings and sun screens.
B2B: What is your company policy regarding employees working from home? Why do you feel it does or doesn’t work for your business?
JF: Since we provide primarily face-to-face services, we are working in the office. We also provide telehealth services. We are very customer-service focused, so our goal is to meet users at their comfort level–which can be in-person, video, telephone, and even text/chat if they prefer. We want to remove any barriers to someone reaching out for assistance, if/when they need it!
As a provider of EAP services, we have experienced a steady increase in the number of employees utilizing our services because they are struggling with both remote work and required onsite work. We have seen significant increases in anxiety and depression and stress. Those that are working remotely have been struggling with isolation (lack of connection), loneliness, and a lack of work/life balance (feeling like they are never able to “leave” work at work). Those that have been required to return to the workplace are dealing with the challenge of learning how to “people” again–seems those who worked from home for the last two years and are now back in the office struggle with day-to-day relationships with peers and supervisors (primarily lots of “short fuses”), which also leads to more employee relations issues and customer service problems for HR and leadership teams to manage.
MK: The Chatterkick team reaches multiple states and time zones. Because of this, all team members typically work from home. The team members who live close to the Sioux City office have a hybrid working environment option. This works well for our team because it provides comfort and flexibility that allows them to do their best work where they work best. This works well for our clients because our brand partnerships span from coast to coast and we stay connected through regular video meetings, weekly emails, or a good, old-fashioned phone call. Our internal team stays connected and is held accountable through a regular team, role, and coaching connections. We also use software to manage our digital to-do lists and
internal team chat.
DC: We have a retail showroom with a sales staff and administrative personnel, as well as warehouse and technicians. We’re currently in the process of building out a building that we purchased and will be moving our retail showroom into that facility along with our warehouse staff who have been operating there for the last year. We have 22 team members and work with several key subs that we’ve worked with years, some as long as 30 years.
We are set up for certain people to work remotely in the event they are sick, have a sick child, or whatever would keep them from coming into the office. We prefer them to be in the office to maintain our sense of team and camaraderie.
B2B: Has your policy affected your ability to recruit and hire new employees?
JF: We have lost a couple of people because they wanted to work fully remote, and we have gained a couple people because they were working remote and couldn’t wait to get back into an office situation where they had the daily contact, collaboration, problem-solving, and friendships/support that onsite work offers.
MK: Yes! By embracing remote workers, we can look outside location limitations when hiring and find top talent, no matter where they call home. By focusing our recruitment efforts on finding the best candidate, no matter their location, we’ve been able to build an incredibly talented team.
DC: Our policy has not hindered us in the least for attracting or retaining employees. We provide a great work environment, pay, and benefits, and are a place where people can grow personally and professionally.
This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.