Workforce Transformation: Leadership Insights and FAQs

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On March 3, 2020, Indeed asked all 10,000 of its global employees to work from home until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a necessary step in minimising the health risks to our employees, their families and communities.

It was also the beginning of a radical, unprecedented and unplanned workforce transformation.

Since then, as Indeed’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources (HR), I’ve spent countless hours collaborating with other senior leaders, managers and teams on what the future of work might look like for us.

My hope is that sharing highlights of our long-term workforce transformation plan — along with a few great questions frequently asked by our employees — will help you better plan your own return to the office. To share your company’s journey, connect with me on Twitter.

Workforce transformation plan includes three new options for work 

Broadly stated, workforce transformation is the reimagining of how your employees work in response to, or anticipation of, technological and societal changes. In March 2020, we assembled a global, multi-departmental task force to develop a long-term strategy for a workforce transformation plan under COVID-19, involving HR, real estate, finance, engineering, communications and sales teams. We also asked for input through employee surveys. 

On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, we announced our long-term transformation plan during a series of all-company video question-and-answer sessions. The plan won’t go into effect until July 1, 2021 at the earliest, and is dependent upon many factors, including the availability of a safe and effective vaccine; local guidelines; the advice of leading disease-prevention organisations; and our own medical advisors’ guidance. We’re determined to continue putting the safety of our employees above all else.

The plan introduces three new options for how and where Indeed employees work:

In-office: These jobs (less than 1% of all Indeed roles) require a regular physical presence on site, though occasional work-from-home days are allowed. Examples include roles in information technology (IT); facilities; and employee experience (the team responsible for positively influencing workplace life). 

Permanent remote/work from home: Certain eligible employees don’t need to come to the office on a regular basis. As Indeed employees are primarily “knowledge workers,” we estimate that 62.5% of our employees will be eligible to permanently work from home on a full-time basis — should they choose to do so.

Even so, not every team will have the option of full-time remote work. For instance, our two largest teams are Sales and Client Success. Once it’s clear that we can safely return to the office, it is best to have those team members working on-site or in the flex program. The goal is to give them the most flexibility while continuing to support the sharing of ideas, mentoring, onboarding, and such. 

Flex: However, 99% of our employees (including those teams) are eligible for the “flex” option. These employees will alternate between going into an office regularly and working at home, based on the needs of their managers and teams (we’re still working out the details). 

How compensation will be affected

Under our new plan, base compensation largely won’t be affected — unless workers move. Indeed salaries, like those of many companies, are calculated in part based on where an employee lives and works; we have to pay more to hire people in expensive metro areas in order to be competitive.

If someone who lives in, say, Sydney or New York chooses to permanently go remote, but continues to live within those metro areas, their compensation won’t change. However, if they move to a less expensive metro area, or rural town, their base compensation may be adjusted accordingly (but these adjustments won’t happen until our offices are reopened).

Common employee questions

Employees have asked many great questions since our long-term workforce transformation plan was introduced — more than 440 within the first week. To help you anticipate inquiries from your own workforce, here are a few of the main things employees asked:  

Q: How many days a week in the office will count as “flex?”

A: It depends on your team and manager, as well as upon your role and its function. But in most cases, flex employees will work two or three days per week in the office.

Q: Will permanent remote-work salaries change in the future to reflect a national average?

A: Every tech company I’ve talked to is grappling with this question. Before COVID-19, Indeed developed a remote salary range for workers in areas where we don’t have nearby offices. Those salaries are tied to Austin’s average salaries. Not only do we have multiple offices in Austin, but the city’s average pay scales are a good indicator of labour costs in many other U.S. cities.

Q: Will flex workers be able to work abroad for a period of time each year?

A: Our flex program isn’t meant to be a “digital nomad” program. Big differences in time zones, for example, can cause complications for teams. There is potential leeway for temporarily working abroad, but approval depends upon meeting internal conditions (such as goals, daily tasks and deadlines) and external conditions (for example, the length of time non-citizens can stay and work in a given country).

Q: Given this new flexibility, can employees work four-day, 10-hour schedules?

A: In the long run, this is something we might consider, depending upon the employee and their specific team requirements. But before we adapt schedules even further, we need to see how current changes play out.

On the path to something bigger and better

Creating an entirely new and untested workforce transformation plan in just a few months is a tall order, and the work is far from done. But the pandemic has given us an opportunity to use a difficult situation to innovate, making life more flexible, enjoyable and productive for our employees.

We’re on an entirely new journey, for sure. But it’s a journey that I believe will lead us to something bigger and better than we could have imagined.

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