Spokane employers are adopting hybrid work policies as staff starts returning to offices. Avista, Premera, NAC Architecture and STCU are in the list of employers considering a hybrid work model.
Employers Talking About Hybrid Work Policies
1. NAC Architecture
Dana Harbaugh, NAC Architecture president and CEO is in favor of the hybrid working model. NAC’s Spokane office has about 70 employees.
“We’re planning to embrace a hybrid model going forward post-pandemic.” Dana Harbaugh, NAC Architecture President and CEO
NAC is reviewing flexible hybrid policies to match employees’ requirements. Guidelines will be made keeping commute time, and other cultural and geographic factors in mind.
“The way we’re approaching it is to allow most of our employees flexibility in where they are working, whether that’s at home or in the office, but we are asking that people do work predominantly from the office because it does benefit that office culture and getting to know people. It helps us mentor and share information better. With all that said, we have seen the benefits of working from home, so as we move forward, we’re not planning to set any clear sort of requirement of hours in the office. What we want to do is to build a real culture of trust and accountability where as long as you’re getting your work done, helping the team and moving the process forward, you’re good and we’re happy.”Dana Harbaugh, NAC Architecture president and CEO
2. Integrus Architecture
Integrus Architecture is reviewing “working from office” for 65 of their employees who will return to office in mid-July.
“We’re a creative human endeavor, and I think that most folks are going to be back in the office because of the strong team relationships and creativity that’s so critical for our work, but we’re going to have to look at any unique and special situations one-on-one. The technology allowed us to do things we didn’t expect and, oddly in some aspects of the firm, it brought us closer together, particularly with two locations. We’re trying to be flexible and accommodating, but also recognizing that because we’re so team-built, the real-life collaboration is great, too. There’s no owner’s manual for this.”Mark Dailey, Spokane Principal and President, Integrus Architecture’s
3. Premera Blue Cross
David Condon, Premera Blue Cross vice president in Eastern Washington, is planning for a unexpected reopening on 6th of July. There are about about 700 employees in and around Spokane. The refinement of Premera’s hybrid policies is a “work in progress”, said Condon, Spokane’s former mayor.
“We have formalized the hybrid arrangement more than we have had. Our customer service, our sales are about really being out there with customers, so traditionally it has been flexible, but now we’ve put definition around hybrid. We too have been strategically looking at that and what are the key components of a workday that are collaborative in nature and those that are more production and individual workdays. Over the last 15 months, we’ve been able to look at that in-depth, and as we’re opening up the campus, we’ll respond that way.”David Condon, Premera Blue Cross Vice President
4. Freeform Interiors
Fernando Jauretche, Freeform Interiors owner is also focusing on hybrid work models that are being adopted by businesses. The company sells office furnishings to businesses and works with interior designers and architects.
“We’re showing more collaborative spaces, which is going to be required in hybrid spaces, aesthetically pleasing permanent dividers, and multipurpose furniture in spaces – so it can be this or it can be that. It can be two workstations, it can be a meeting room, it can be a private office or it can be a free-address workstation.”Fernando Jauretche, Freeform Interiors Owner
Jauretche feels that a hybrid work model is inevitable “because employees are empowered.” Businesses will need to work on hybrid work policies to meet the rising demand for remote work if they are to retain their employees.
“As companies that are competing for talent try to bring people back more, I think they’re going to find if they don’t allow a hybrid work environment, then they’re going to be at a disadvantage. Employees now know they can work from home, and before it was like, you can’t work from home because the copier is here, we have meetings and customers come in. Well, everybody has been doing otherwise for X amount of time. “It’s driven a lot of positive innovations, made us more paper-free, brought virtual collaborations and made hybrid work a lot more possible than it was before.”Fernando Jauretche, Freeform Interiors Owner
STCU is also working on their hybrid work policies. Their branch managers will need to be on-site but there are other departments that can benefit from the flexible working model. However, STCU does feel that it is a tough task when taking everything into consideration.
“STCU knows we’re going to be flexible, and we know we’re going to have a hybrid model available for the appropriate employees that it works for. How do we ensure business continuity to stay at the level of service we strive for with our members, and then, how do we ensure we continue to evolve our culture so that our culture remains strong and relevant? By no means is creating the hybrid the easiest option for the employer.”Marty Dickinson, Chief Marketing Officer, STCU
1,200 of Avista’s 1800 employees are currently working from home. Some will return to the office in July.
Avista has allowed employees to continue working from home if that if they’re still uncomfortable owing to COVID risk. They can continue with work from home till September.
“We are looking at providing some type of hybrid option for some of our employees based on their roles and responsibilities and looking to the leaders of each of the areas to help us identify where that makes sense. We have a wide range of employee interests. We have some who really want to return to the office and some enjoying the no commute and the level of flexibility they have while working at home. We’re having a lot of discussions and doing a lot of planning to determine what that will look like. But we’ve learned a lot over the last year, and I think employees’ perspectives have changed.”Heather Rosentrater, Senior Vice President overseeing COVID response
7. Washington Trust Bank
Among 1,100 of Washington Trust Bank’s workers, about 700 of them were working from home. Employee surveys show that there are concerns about factors such as childcare, public transportation, school schedules and crowded spaces.
“All of us as employers and employees need to keep a very open mind, and if we can accommodate our employees and have them work remote or hybrid, and it still allows for us to function and preserve our culture and continue to service our clients, we’re happy to explore that.”Jack Heath, Washington Trust President
This shift will not change the bank’s commitment to downtown properties, including the Washington Trust tower.
“We will continue to be committed to a campus environment, but the way that we’ll work going forward has changed significantly because of COVID. For the most part, that’s all a very positive change to allow maximum flexibility for our employees. I think we’ll find ourselves competing for talent not only in Spokane, Washington, but throughout the world for key positions today because of the ability of people to work remote.”Jack Heath, Washington Trust President
Spokane is seeing a surge in hybrid work policies being implemented in various companies and sectors. This is expected to be a successful move for both, the employer and the employees.
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