How Will Flexible Working Impact Your Culture? | Tenant Talks Recap

On June 16th Aura hosted the most recent edition of our virtual speaker series, Tenant Talks™. This time we wanted to talk about how flexible working will impact your organization’s culture

Panelists included representatives from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Roper Greyell LLP, Manning Elliott LLP, and Aviso Wealth. The event was hosted by Dan Boram, CEO of Aura. Our moderator was Rocky Ozaki from NoW of Work

Our panelists discussed how the new ways of working will affect company culture. These new ways of working include hybrid work schedules, new technology, new workspace designs, and new amenities. 

Plus, panelist Didhiti Bhoumik, Chief Administrative Officer at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP made an exciting announcement. She shared that BLG has introduced a new concept, digital offices. 

Read on to learn more about the digital office and what impacts our panelists have seen on workplace culture. 

(More of a watcher than a reader? Watch the video recording of the event here.)

Question #1: What percentage of employees will be returning to the office? And will organizations be using a hybrid model of working?

Shakti Jeyachandran, Director of Admin and HR at Roper Greyell LLP started off the discussion. She said that her firm has adopted Pivvot, a software program that helps businesses make the most of their office space. Shakti said that Roper Greyell LLP is considering a hybrid option. Her firm is working closely with staff members to identify their needs. 

Rocky agreed that Pivvot is a great tool and reiterated how important it is to take “the human approach” when making future plans for the business. 

Sherri Evans, Senior Vice President and Head of People & Client Experience at Aviso Wealth added to the discussion that her firm has never been an organization where remote working was the norm. Prior to the pandemic, moving to a remote working model did not seem feasible for operations and customer service personnel. But that has since been debunkedAviso is now working towards a hybrid model. Starting with an assessment of what the business needs and what the framework for a hybrid model will look like. 

Didhiti said that her firm has provided surveys to staff members at BLG to gauge interest. The results showed that the majority of staff want a hybrid working model. She stressed the importance that not every role is able to adopt a hybrid model, but those are determined on a case by case basis. 

Rocky expanded on the last question and asked about the topic of each firm’s customers and clients. He asked, “How has the customer experience changed?” 

Sylvia Marks, Manager of Human Resources at Manning Elliott LLP said the biggest change to the client experience was the decline in face-to-face meetings. Prior to the pandemic, Sylvia said that the primary way that advisors met with clients was in person. Now, most clients prefer to meet virtually

“I’m not sure virtual meetings with clients are going to go away. I don’t think we’re going to have as many clients actually coming into our office any longer,” Sylvia reiterated. 

The other panelists agreed that virtual business was most likely here to stay. Shakti added the fact that it is more convenient and accessible for some clients to meet virtually. 

Rocky then asked the audience a poll question: How many days per week would you like to work from home?

While the results were varied, 88% said they want to work from home 1-4 days per week, 11% said no days at home per week, and 12% said just one day at home per week. 

Question #2: What have you done, or plan to do, to address productivity in a flexible working environment?

Sylvia said that at Manning Elliott, while most of the staff was working remotely, they held managers responsible for holding virtual check-ins with their staff on a regular basis. During these check-ins, they look at each employee’s productivity and engagement levels. 

Sylvia admitted that there were some struggles in the beginning – managers were unsure how they would manage staff productivity. To remedy this, Human Resources did virtual training sessions on how to manage staff in a remote environment

Didhiti was up next and said that BLG actually saw an increase in productivity when they started a remote working environment. And because their staff has proven they can productively regardless of where they are, BLG has invested resources into technology and training that will support a flexible work environment going forward. 

Shakti brought up the importance of supporting employee wellness, and that doing so during the pandemic helped to increase productivity. 

Some of the ways that Shakti and Roper Greyell support employee wellness is by providing an increase in certain health benefits, and by educating staff on resiliency, healthy minds, ergonomics, and nutrition

Rocky reiterated the importance of employee wellbeing saying, “About 95% of organizations I’ve spoken to have said that they now have Employee Wellness in their top 3 strategic initiatives.”

Question #3: How do you promote equitable access to opportunity and promotions for your staff? Especially when some employees are in the office and some are working remotely?

Didhiti said that work allocation is always at the top of mind for BLG because of their new hybrid, flexible work environment. They are looking to create policies and systems to create equal work opportunities for all staff members, regardless of where they work. 

Sylvia said that she sees some of the same challenges as Didhiti. She also said that they are working to create plans and programs that will address these challenges. 

“It is important to get the feedback from all levels and ensure they are being heard,” Sylvia remarked. 

Question #4: How do you feel office design will evolve in our post-pandemic work environment?

Sherri started off the discussion by talking about how we need to shift our expectations about what the office is and how we use it

“I think eventually we will get to a place with more innovation and collaboration space,” Sherri said. 

Shakti talked about how organizations, in general, are actively addressing their physical footprint. She said that she does not see many firms who are looking to increase their space, but rather redesign their current space to create a layout that works for their staff

Shakti also said that she sees a future of hoteling, office sharing, work-share spaces, and other coworking design solutions. She said that at her firm, they are piloting an office share program; a model where two staff members share an office. The two employees who share an office work on opposite days. This helps staff feel a sense of belonging to the organization when they have their own dedicated workspace. 

Next, Didhiti talked about the extremely unique and innovative way that BLG is planning for a flexible work environment. By introducing digital offices.  

She explained the concept. “When you get to the office in the morning, you sign in and then you are assigned an office space. Your name will be on the door, your family photos will appear digitally, and your certifications will be on the wall.” 

These digital offices can even transform into meeting spaces where staff can present information or data to clients and coworkers. Using this technology, staff members can also collaborate so they know when their team members are working in the office. Watch the webinar to learn more!

Dan Boram, CEO of Aura, also talked about the opportunities within the digital office and how different organizations can use these new technologies. He also talked about the importance of personalization.

“The office is very much unique to each organization, and it has to be carefully considered and done scientifically,” Dan said. 

To learn more about the digital office that Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is working on, you can listen to the full TenantTalks™ video recording here

You can also hear the panelists’ full discussion, rapid fire questions, plus the poll questions and answers!

Join Our Mailing List

Get exclusive details on the next Tenant Talks™ events!