Forget the work flexibility encouraged by the health crisis! While most companies are eager to revert to their pre-pandemic operations, demanding physical presence in offices, companies like Allstate, attuned to their employees' expectations, recognize the need for continued enhancement of their work models.
The pandemic forced organizations to hastily adapt, leading to less-than-ideal remote work policies during the crisis, which are even less suitable now as normalcy returns. Yet, during this period, many employees discovered the benefits of partially or fully working from home.
Amidst these imperfections and user expectations, many leaders are choosing, often publicized in recent months, to return to the pre-2020 status quo. This approach risks ignoring employee preferences at their peril. In contrast, Allstate's HR Director listens to these preferences and strives to improve the initial work model.
Allstate created a new role, the "Workplace Futurist," bridging personnel, real estate, and technology functions. Lauren DeYoung, in this role, prioritized understanding employee perspectives at all hierarchy levels. The key finding was high satisfaction with the recently introduced flexibility.
Consequently, Allstate rejected the idea of regressing. Instead, acknowledging diverse perceptions, they implemented a dual strategy: delegating to operational managers the selection of work modalities for their teams and establishing common resources for group-wide consistency.
In this framework, initiatives range from one-day training modules for all supervisory personnel (7,000 within six months) to teach skills for managing in a distributed context, to a discretionary "connection" budget for managers to foster collaboration.
Reflecting its employee-centric approach, Allstate has seen significant benefits, notably in employer attractiveness and talent recruitment. Since adopting this policy, job applications increased by 23%, with a notable 33% rise in ethnic and gender diversity.
Additionally, Allstate's tracking tools focus on usage evolution rather than individual monitoring. This approach led to a 50% reduction in their real estate footprint and a complete overhaul of remaining spaces, transforming them from office-centric to café-like areas optimized for team face-to-face meetings and cross-department socialization.
With a constant focus on employee feedback, Allstate continues to add and assess new options in its arsenal, determining their retention based on impact. This lesson serves as a stark reminder to organizations that underestimate how the health crisis has fundamentally changed work perceptions and believe they can ignore these changes without consequence.