As the availability of vaccines and relaxed restrictions signal a return to normalcy in our communities, we are approaching the return to our offices in a safe, thoughtful way. It’s an exciting time, as we’re celebrating reconnecting in person again. We spoke with Armanino’s Chief People Officer, Carol Ann Nash, about what we’ve learned through internal surveys and discussions, as well as how we’re approaching the return to our offices with purpose and connection in mind.
As we began our thought process to return to the office, several themes emerged. First and foremost was ensuring the safety of our people. However, a clear next priority was understanding what had changed with employees. Many appreciated the flexibility associated with a working-from-home environment, and we explored how we could accommodate the continued desire for flexibility.
Listening and Learning About Our Team’s Challenges and Preferences
The pandemic affected everyone differently, and each person has their own comfort level with aspects of life returning to normal, particularly regarding safety. Just as we encouraged safely working from home last spring, we knew safety would remain central to our reopening. Our continued compliance with CDC, state and local regulations would remain as our office doors opened once again.
We also approached the return to the office from a place of listening and learning to ensure our people were happy, healthy and thriving at work amid a shifting world. We conducted a Workstyle Survey in April 2021 to make sure our plans to return to the office aligned with employees’ preferences and needs.
This survey helped us learn a great deal about experiences and challenges throughout the pandemic. Additionally, our team members shared how they see the new work environment as they continue to build their careers. We received more than 1,000 responses in the first 24 hours the survey was live, a sign that our people were very engaged in this topic.
Survey Says Relationships Are Strong, Hybrid Work Is In
Some key findings from our survey indicate our people are happy with their work relationships and the level of safety at work. While in mandated lockdown and even beyond, we fostered rich connections virtually, keeping everyone as safe as possible while continuing culture events and providing immersive onboarding and training.
We learned flexibility is more important than ever, with 75% of our employees stating they desire a hybrid work model. Flexibility isn’t new to us, as our work environment has long allowed us to collaborate and deliver results to clients no matter where we are.
Our survey also revealed an increased interest in remote work. Armanino’s Mobile Professional program invites employees to apply and receive classification as fully remote. COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of this program, and we expect Mobile Professionals will make up more of our firm in the future.
Areas of Improvement Shape Our Return to the Office
Our survey reaffirmed what we’d done right throughout the pandemic, but we know virtual experiences aren’t the same as in-person ones. What’s more, we recognize there’s always opportunity for us to improve and support our employees.
Through our Workstyle Survey, we learned some team members were feeling disconnected and having difficulty finding balance, which have proven challenging with the blurred lines between work and home.
The survey also revealed nearly all respondents value and desire safe in-person interaction. We connected the dots, realizing how important this is to our team, and decided that part of our return-to-work plan would include encouraging purposeful social connection.
Our survey results uncovered an opportunity to proactively design a workplace not only for an initial reopening but also for the future. We didn’t want to find our way back — we wanted to build a better path forward.
Our Hybrid Model Is the Future of Work at Armanino
As of June 1, 2021, all our offices are open and operating under applicable guidelines. Survey feedback and safety protocols helped shape this initial reopening phase, and more team members return to in-person work each day. There’s unmistakable energy as we gather in person once again.
Safely reopening our offices allowed for the in-person aspect of work that many of our team members want and need. After all, our offices are a hub of collaboration and creativity that make Armanino unique. Face-to-face contact is key to how we innovate, create and show up for clients and each other.
How would we find a balance between in-person connection while retaining flexibility in the long run? A thoughtful hybrid model is a natural extension of our familiarity with location-agnostic work and our drive to be together.
Armanino’s offices will follow a hybrid schedule beginning this fall, with Monday and Friday as work-from-home or in-office days. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are designated in-office or client site days, with remote flexibility as needed.
Choice is fundamental in our new workplace model, and it’s based on our culture of trust and communication. When we shape work to fit better with people’s lives, we’re happier, healthier, more productive and stronger as a firm. We also open the doors to a broader group of talented people who want to join Armanino.
What’s Changed in Our Offices, and What’s Next
This fall, our in-office days will focus more on togetherness than before. We are planning more social events, such as lunches and holiday events, that reinforce connection and strengthen our bond. Our common areas are open for casual meetings and socializing.
With increased flexibility, hoteling workspaces will become more common in all our offices. Hoteling spaces also allow Mobile Professional (remote) employees to visit our offices and feel at home in a connected, collaborative environment.
From now on, some of our programs, including our summer internship program, will adopt a hybrid approach with virtual and in-office activities. We’ve already redesigned our pre-internship summer leadership program (ASCEND) as an entirely virtual experience. Earlier this year, we welcomed students from multiple states who gained hands-on experience and learned about what makes Armanino unique, all in a virtual setting.
As we return to the office, we are mindful of the desire to deepen connections in person without losing full-firm virtual connectivity. Zoom and Teams links will likely become standard operating procedure as our people split time between the office, their homes and client sites. We’ll continue our investment in technology that allows us to work better as a hybrid firm, with the added benefit of future-proofing for whatever comes next.
Armanino will continue to embrace flexibility that allows everyone to get the most out of life and work. As we look forward, we see a future where a hybrid model is the norm, and we want to lead the way. We welcome new team members who are as excited and passionate about what lies ahead, no matter where they’re located in the U.S.
Interested in joining Armanino? Check out our careers page and current openings.