As more employees return to the workplace after COVID forced millions to work from home, different corporate approaches are emerging. For its part, iHeartMedia now views the office as a “productivity tool,” as opposed to a home base, and that new thinking guides what it is calling the “new work environment.”
In a memo to employees Thursday, Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and President and COO Rich Bressler outline their evolving blueprint, which involves a hybrid home/work approach and redesigned workspaces.
“We will never ‘return to the office’ as we all knew it; instead, we’ll be returning to a ‘New Work Environment,’” the execs say in their joint memo. That takes into consideration what they’ve learned in the past year and a half, “from new skills and new ways of working to maximizing our technology to enable us to communicate, innovate and work together as a team.”
The goal is to “enable greater productivity” while being more responsive to how employees live their life.
“Although we’ll start as a hybrid of working from home and some use of the office, we know it will evolve as we learn together,” the memo says. “We should all think about the office as a productivity tool, vs. that more rigid ‘home base’ we’ve been used to – and the office will always be open for your use.”
Some iHeart employees in essential jobs will continue to be 100% office-based. And some who haven’t been in the office since the pandemic began will continue to work remotely. “However, overall we think most people will have a hybrid approach, one in which they’ll spend a period of time in the office every week, depending on what their team’s needs are,” Pittman and Bressler say. “And even that schedule may vary week to week, or even month to month, depending on what you are working on.”
As part of the office as “productivity tool” construct, iHeart has been redesigning its workspaces to make them more conducive to interaction and collaboration, while shrinking its overall real estate footprint. “Many of you are going to return to offices that have been redesigned and rebuilt over the past year to focus on collaboration at their heart,” the memo states.
The CEO and COO say there will be some hurdles they’ll need to address “like tracking and measuring productivity” but that shouldn’t deter its goal of being “at the forefront of innovation in the work environment.”
Employees’ individual schedules will be developed with their managers, the execs say, and “built around the needs and timetables of each location and function, and hopefully tailored to everyone’s specific talents and jobs.” To protect employee wellbeing, they remind workers to follow the latest recommendations for both vaccines and office protocols.