In the summer of 2020, I said: “Work has fundamentally changed in ways that are irreversible. It’s time to imagine a better, more flexible work environment that enables our professionals to thrive in work and life – and make it a reality.”
As one of the first professional services organizations to commit to indefinite remote work during the pandemic, our objective has always been to prioritize the well-being of our people, knowing positive business results would follow. Our organization had begun to put in place the infrastructure to enable most of our professionals to work anywhere they wanted even before COVID entered the picture.
Our philosophy about work is and always has been rooted in the trust that runs through our organization and the value we place on our people. Simply put, we hire great people who we can depend on. We also believe that our ability to hire the best talent, regardless of location, helps us better serve clients.
This foundation allowed us to seamlessly transition to a remote workforce during the pandemic, and we haven’t looked back. To underscore how popular this decision was, more than 65% of our workforce has opted to stay remote full-time. And our office utilization is less than 5% of capacity since the start of 2022, despite the fact that our offices have been open for business the whole time. Productivity has remained steady, and we have grown our revenues and profits substantially in a very challenging environment.
We’ve heard from our people, and they have resoundingly endorsed our commitment to flexibility.
Long-term, a reduced real estate footprint is aligned with environmental sustainability, and Sikich can repurpose cost savings into benefits and programs for our people, so that we can keep our promise of a meaningful and unique employee experience.
Here’s how we’re building a workplace of the future with our people at the forefront:
1. Reinvesting money into our people
Offices will never be completed eliminated, and we don’t intend to do away with ours. But rather than invest in leasing or buying a new brick-and-mortar facility each time we expand our geographic footprint with new talent or clients, we will focus our efforts on smaller offices in major markets with dynamic seating systems in place.
Our new Milwaukee office, for example, is roughly 10% of our national office footprint and is optimized to meet the needs of our more distributed workforce. We have a decentralized workforce; therefore, we are establishing a decentralized network of physical workplaces for employees to use in the best interests of themselves and our clients.
At the same time, we are investing in bolstering learning and development, technology and employee benefits to continue to enhance the employee experience at Sikich. And when employees are happy and successful, clients reap the benefits.
2. Reskilling managers to lead in a remote work environment
It’s important to talent retention and employee success to ensure leaders across our organization are equipped to properly support their teams in a remote work environment. This requires specific training on virtually communicating with employees and providing feedback on a regular basis to keep employees feeling engaged and aligned with the goals of the team.
3. Striving for sustainability
Organizations, including ours, have long been taking a deliberate approach to sustainable practices, and moving to a remote work environment provides new ways for our organization to adopt sustainable practices. For example, a remote worker might opt to brew their own coffee instead of picking up a disposable cup on the drive to work. And as it relates to driving, we know that commuting, notably in larger cities where we have offices, means a lot of time spent in cars or the use of public transportation. A daily commute can contribute to increased air pollution, compared to working from home. Our remote work policy wasn’t designed to combat climate concerns, but seeing the impact it can make, we’re inspired to look further into what we can do to reduce our organization’s carbon footprint.
We realize we aren’t alone in committing to this modern approach to work and that other businesses are taking the same proactive steps we are. Nonetheless, we are proud of the progress we’ve made and will continue to move the bar higher for the development and betterment of our culture, our people and our clients.