Erin Bury, a self-described extrovert, always wanted her business to have an in-person work place culture. So her husband, Kevin Oulds, co-founder and CEO of the Toronto estate management firm Willful opened an office in the city’s financial district in February 2020.
Bury said in an interview that they had been in the space for approximately six weeks before the first lockdown and had established the company with an emphasis on having an in-person culture.
She reopened the office when there was a slight break in Covid-19 waves, and vaccines became available to the general public in the summer of 2021. The office was open, giving employees a choice to come in, but no one came, she added.
Many employees had relocated further away from the workplace or had grown accustomed to working remotely.
People were visiting the office perhaps once or twice a month, and “so we always joked it was like a $1,000 office visit anytime someone went in because they were actually taking advantage of it,” she said.
Bury claims that this insight, together with employee feedback, led her and her husband to decide to do rid of the office, relocate their small business of roughly 20 employees and permanently institute a “Work from Anywhere” policy.
According to the policy, employees are allowed to work from any location in Canada and should be available during the core hours of 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. EST. Further, they can put in any additional hours they like.
She said, “I was a die-hard, no work-from-home, in-office person before the pandemic, but now I’ve completely changed my tune.”
Willful employee Amanda Li explains that before making the decision, she was unaware of how much the policy change may improve her work-life balance.
Li says it had made it possible for her to relocate to Windsor, Ontario, where living expenses were lower. “And I was recently fortunate enough to buy my own home here,” she added.
Bury commented on the policy, saying, “I don’t care when or where people are working.”
“We just don’t monitor it – as long as people get their stuff done, I actually don’t care if you’re working Sunday night versus Monday morning versus from Paris.”
The policy has made it possible for Bury and Oulds to relocate to a house in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She said it also enables her to manage her life better as a new mom.
Further, Bury explains that employee productivity hasn’t been a problem.
She says that the viewpoint that because someone works from home, they are not working hard enough is obsolete. “It tends to be the mistrustful old-school employers who want to spy over your shoulder and make sure that you’re actually doing your work,” told Bury.
Bury explains that Willful has adopted a different approach, using a “rigorous” goal-setting framework to hold employees accountable.
Source: CTV News