The Situation

A company in Washington DC was facing a major issue with employees reporting to the office for work due to a multi-year metro-wide system upgrade that resulted in a multi-month station shutdown at the only metro station accessible to office workers. The company did not have a remote work policy. Some employees had always worked at home. Others did not, nor were they encouraged to do it. And still others had a part-time remote work schedule. The lack of a policy meant there was an inequality across the workforce regarding the privileges they were granted and it amounted to those who pushed hardest eventually got what they wanted.

The Task

Move the company from in-person work to remote work in three weeks including removing technology constraints and educating the workforce on effective collaboration techniques for remote work.

The Action / Approach

The transportation disruption provided the perfect opportunity to course correct and level set the playing field for all employees. We were able to suggest a strategy to ensure success during this temporary transportation disruption with an eye to ensuring that workers could determine their own work location and methods that best suited them at the end of the 3-month period.

We created a phased approach in advance of the metro shutdown. We helped to create a remote work policy for the company. What was expected and what was not during this temporary transition period. Then one team at a time went home. They took written instructions and their gear with them and there was a support team available by phone if they ran into any difficulties. From that point forward they worked 100% remotely.

With this advanced planning there were very few hiccups to getting a company of 50 people 100% remote. At the end of the 3-month window, the conversation about continuing remote work opportunities for those who wanted them was a lot easier.

After this, it was necessary to put a permanent, formalized remote work policy in place -one that defined remote work and how employees were expected to conduct business while working from home. We also worked with each team to ensure that they had a team communication plan that suited their style of working. Additional coaching was provided for remote collaboration techniques.

The Result

Reduction of office space by 50%

Reduction in transportation costs (an employer paid benefit) by 75%

Increased work satisfaction and employee morale

Work productivity up 25% because mental strain of commuting was reduced

Relevant Business Perspectives