Page 32 - BusinessWest March 17, 2021
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 Mike Galat
 60% of companies will offer a hybrid work model, while 30% of companies will be back in the office, and 10% will be fully remote.
Since last summer, Big Y’s support-center workers have been required to be on site at least one day a week, and the company continues to discuss internally what the full transi- tion back will look like.
“Productivity has not been an issue,” Galat said. “But, with our company, the culture is a huge component of it. Collabo- rating and having discussions on Zoom ... you can do that, but it’s not the same.”
By essentially being forced
into a mode of flexibility since
last March, he believes compa-
nies — including Big Y — have
learned some important lessons
going forward. “I see a hybrid approach in the future, finding balance, again, between meeting the needs
of the business and allowing people flexibility to take care of their home life. It’s a constant discussion we’re having with the executive team about what’s working, what’s not working, and what this will look like in the future.”
The fact that the support center is not just an 8-to-5 operation, but requires coverage on nights and weekends, allows for some flexibility of schedules for workers juggling their kids’ remote learning or tak- ing care of parents, he added. “We continue to take care of business, while allowing people the flexibility
to take care of home needs as well.”
Another of the region’s larg- est employers, MassMutual, continues to keep a large swath of workers off campus, and is in the process of evaluating their return to the office, said Chel- sea Haraty, communications consultant in Media Relations for the company.
“At a high level, we expect to have MassMutual employees return to our corporate offices in a slow, phased manner
later this year,” she told Busi- nessWest. “We will continue
to monitor and reassess that plan, factoring in a number of considerations — including guidance from medical experts and government officials, a sustained reduction in cases, broader availability of testing
and vaccines, as well as our employees’ circumstanc- es and comfort in returning.”
What employers are starting to understand, Wise said, is that employees are also weighing the pros and cons of coming back, and while some are eager, oth- ers would rather stay home, and may make that fact known.
“Employers have employees all over the spectrum — some want to get back into the office and don’t feel part of the team when they’re not. Others are saying, ‘I’m not sure I want to come back; I’m not sure about the cleaning protocols and sanitation protocols. Are people wearing masks? I’m not sure I’m comfortable
in the office.’”
She noted that some companies are fine push-
ing those decisions into the future. “They’re saying, ‘things are going pretty smoothly; we don’t have quite as much water-cooler talk, not as much gos- sip going on, and people are really productive when they’re remote. We don’t have to have people come
finding balance, again, between meeting the needs of the business and allowing people flexibility to take care of their home life.
back to the office and incur the expense of coffee and bathroom supplies. Maybe we can cut some of our expenses.’”
Including some major expenses — most notably the office space itself. “Some of these companies have leases coming up in the next year, so they’re ask- ing, ‘can I reduce my footprint? Do we need as much space as we have?’”
Back and Forth
On the other hand, Wise said, questions about workplace culture are very real. “Some companies are looking at their culture, their camaraderie, their teamwork, just the ability to walk down the hall and talk to
and they
I see a hybrid approach in the future,
Continued on page 37
  Mud season with the new guy
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  32 MARCH 17, 2021
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