H&R Block’s culture of bold thinking and teamwork guides a post-pandemic workplace of the future
By Tiffany Monroe, chief people officer
At H&R Block, we believe in the power of connectedness where associates can bring their authentic selves to work and everyone plays a unique role in contributing to a larger team. It’s this sense of belonging and teamwork, along with a focus on bold thinking and risk-taking that all come together to form our culture.
Like companies all across the country faced, the COVID-19 pandemic struck last March and changed everything. Abruptly, all of the nearly 2,000 associates at our headquarters began working remotely. It became immediately evident – we needed to double down on our commitment to maintain our sense of connectedness and creativity while being dispersed. We made quick pivots to give our customer service agents and tax professionals the tools they needed to be able to work remotely, we quickly implemented new “work from anywhere” practices, and we activated remote work technologies that created “digital neighborhoods” so our teams could continue the work they love.
Throughout this situation, we have been keeping in close contact with our associates, regularly checking in to determine how best to support our teams and their families. We’ve learned that “working from anywhere” has brought its share of joys and struggles to everyone – the positives of saving commute time and wearing sweatpants to work, to the negatives of struggling to separate from work and missing the chance conversations with colleagues.
Associates have shared their thoughts about returning to the office, with 90% having a desire to maintain some flexibility of working from home. We also know there is value in being together. Pre-pandemic, H&R Block had “Rock the Block” Fridays where associates would wear green, and we would bring people together in our “Innovation Station” to brainstorm, whiteboard, and create better ways to serve our customers – there is value in the team spirit that can be fostered and the innovating thinking that can occur when we’re together. Add to this, everyone agreed they missed those random conversations when you passed someone in the hallway or stopped by someone’s office. There had to be a balance.
After a great deal of engagement among top leaders and thought-provoking dialogue with our associates, we are announcing the future of work at H&R Block.
We will take a hybrid approach – a new “remote-friendly” culture that supports the unique needs of our diverse community of associates. This includes a new, flexible workweek with associates in the office Tuesday–Thursday, and working remotely Monday and Friday. This allows us to foster the in-person teamwork that we believe is so important to our culture, while also extending the work-from-anywhere approach. An eight-hour workday in an office five days a week is a thing of the past. The pandemic has taught us that a new, flexible dimension of a strong, creative culture is possible, and we look forward to offering this future of work to our associates. As we commit to a flexible workplace of the future, we are guided by these key principles:
- We are a remote-friendly employer, not remote first – we will continue to allow the flexibility of some remote work and give people the option to balance when they need to be in the office and when they need to take care of things at home.
- We value connectedness – we believe time together in person is important to build trust and foster common understanding, as well as drive the best creative outcomes.
- We are investing in technology to ensure an enhanced in-office experience – when we transition to a hybrid mode and work more regularly from home and the office, our office technology will facilitate this new way of working.
- We will continue to make everyone’s well-being a priority – we will return when there is a common understanding that it is safe and continue to follow all safety precautions and guidelines.
The dynamics of work are changing, and H&R Block is building the workplace of the future by listening, adapting, and responding. The new hybrid work schedule will allow associates to return to some of the pre-pandemic time in the office blended with the flexibility to work from anywhere. Through this whole decision-making process, the health and safety of our associates remains a top priority. We look forward to welcoming our associates back to headquarters when the time is right.
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