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Striking The Right Balance Between Working From Home Vs The Office

From left, Jenifer Bologna, Heidi Davidson, Sarah Jones-Maturo and Russell Yankwitt

The Business Council of Westchester concluded its Talent Tuesday series on June 20 with a fifth session on the challenges employers face when working within a remote/hybrid-leaning environment.

The webinar’s panelists included Jenifer Bologna, Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C.; Heidi Davidson, Co-founder and CEO, Galvanize Worldwide; Sarah Jones-Maturo, President, RM Friedland; and Russell Yankwitt, Founding Partner, Yankwitt LLP.

“This debate is reshaping our economic future by taking what was a temporary response to the Covid pandemic and evolving it into a permanent, preferred lifestyle and workstyle,” said BCW President & CEO Marsha Gordon, who moderated the webinar. “The impact of this evolutionary (if not revolutionary change) is certainly rocking our world.”

Bologna began the session by presenting an overview of how employers must adapt their HR and workplace policies if they want to accommodate remote work and noted that different employment and benefits rules apply in various states where remote workers live. “The first thing you really want to decide is what are you going to do? Is it going to be the minimum or the maximum? Is it going to be for all employees or for some of your workforce?” said Bologna. “It’s usually in IT roles where employers first give in because it’s hard to find IT workers that want to be in the office.”

Davidson said that she founded her company as a fully remote enterprise to attract quality talent that didn’t want to commute. “We have never had a talent problem. We have always accessed the best talent who can operate in this model from wherever on the planet they want to be,” said Davidson, who added that low-overhead costs are a benefit. “A lot of the agencies that we are competing with, the big agencies, have very expensive overhead.”

Jones-Maturo said quality workers can be very productive remotely, but less talented workers struggle to be highly productive at home. Her staff returned to the office after the Covid lockdowns ended. “The nature of what (brokers) do is sort of hybrid. They’re attending in-person meetings at client offices, they’re out walking buildings…they’ve always been hybrid by nature,” said Jones-Maturo.

Yankwitt said that he embraced the hybrid model for his firm 15 years ago to spend more time with his children. Before the Covid pandemic, he attracted quality attorneys by offering them his firm’s hybrid model. “I used to be able to offer Westchester salaries because I could offer this flexibility (as a benefit). Now, all the New York City law firms are hybrid, so it costs a lot of money to pay similar salaries,” said Yankwitt. “You can’t retain people if you’re fully in the office. These high-quality workers want the ability to be flexible and they want the ability to be remote.”

Gordon concluded, “This five-part series has been an absolute joy to produce and share with our members. We’ve received phenomenal feedback, so we’ll find other ways to continue this critical discussion.” A recording of the final Talent Tuesday is posted on the BCW’s Facebook page, and the post-webinar podcast, Beyond the Panel, is available on blubrry and other major podcast platforms.

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