How Sandy tested our employer brand

It was Friday afternoon, October 26th. We just got through presenting to our client. It was a very successful one. Naturally we all broke into conversations around what plans we had for the weekend. Not your typical weekend type plans of leisure. The conversations were around preparedness and survival. With nervous candor we humored each other about buying large umbrellas and floatation devices. Trying our best to stay strong to the fact that we were about to be hit by the deadliest storm in over 40 years, and the largest ever to form in the Atlantic Basin.

We were due to be hit on Monday the 29th, so that left the weekend to truly get prepared. Little had we known as we said our goodbyes to our client and went back to the office and told our colleagues to have a great weekend, that would be the last time we would work in our office until January of 2013.

Yes, our office was one of the buildings that made the CNN highlight reel. The entire basement of our building was under water along with all of the businesses around us. So all of our electrical, security, water, and elevators were shot.

With all of this we knew business had to keep going. We still had deadlines and project work to do.

Yet we knew we had to find a way to accomplish business as usual somewhere else. For half of us we moved and worked in temporary offices in Manhattan and NJ. But predominantly we all worked from home. We became a virtual agency overnight. Literally.

But being virtual isn’t really the interesting part.

Our team moving to temporary spaces.What was interesting was not only did we validate the power of telecommuting, but we experienced another level of our employer brand.

The question becomes how sustainable is your brand when it is pulled apart? How does it enable those ingredients that are often glazed into value propositions and not truly tested into action? We found that out quickly. We found out that the employment experience doesn’t confine itself within brick and mortar. Or within a specific timeline of the day. We found that the employer brand ventures into our home offices, and our living rooms. And the more seamless and adaptive the experience is outside of the traditional brick and mortar of our office, the more it inspired us to pull together.

Thanks to technology, we collaborated and worked virtually as if we were sitting right next to each other.

In our temporary offices that was literally the case. But an interesting experience started to unfold. It was the feeling of the challenge of being on our own yet responsible for the success of our agency. We became entrepreneurs and owners. Our temporary offices and our home environments offered a different perspective of our work. It brought perspective to what we were doing and gave us more time to reflect upon the value of what we do and what we do for each other by simply being away from the day to day things we took for granted. It was the result of the CEO of the company reaching out to all of us and asking for help by demonstrating trust and confidence in the workforce to work virtually. So the term “telecommuting” takes on a more critical variable in employer branding.

Telecommuting isn’t new, nor is it for everybody.

There are challenges that go along with telecommuting, but there are specific tips for being successful with it. It is not the end all be all differentiation in employer brands. But for those organizations that can take advantage of a virtual workforce, here are some interesting stats. In a survey by Wrike, working from home is rapidly on the rise and becoming a major perk in the decision set of candidates who are considering working for a company. Although the higher the position of the company the more time the person works outside the office, a survey of over 1074 respondents resulted that 83% work remotely at least part of the day.

More and more companies are implementing virtual workforce programs as technology has delivered efficient and effective platforms for virtual collaboration. Content is accessed from the clouds and presentation platforms break through geographic barriers. 

It is not just a perk. It is the attention and importance a company invests into virtual workforce programs that integrates and extends a positive empowering employment experience outside the brick and mortar office. So as we develop ideas around the employer brand, the virtual workforce is becoming more prevalent in the strategies.

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TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide

1 Comment

  1. Gretchen Edwards

    Reading this and visualizing everything you all were going through reminds me of the 1994 earthquake in LA. Despite having the rug ripped out from beneath us, customers and remote employees were expecting the LA office to operate on a "business as usual" basis. It was incomprehensible to me at the time. Then this happens to our NY office, and I realize now that I went there myself, not understanding the gravity of the situation and expecting relatively seamless support. Shame on me! Miracle of miracles, the NY team quickly made those of us in the field feel like it was "business as usual." Hats off to each and every one of you for your professionalism and "can do" spirit. Absolutely amazing.

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