Work Reimagined: Rewriting Your Global Talent Roadmap
Guided by President and CEO Katrina L. Helmkamp’s vision and leadership, I’m proud to say that the team at Cartus hit the ground running on our new “Reimagine Work” initiative—which, four months later, continues to evolve. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, we are excited to share some of these early strategies and learnings in the inaugural edition of our “Cartus Executive Perspectives” series, which features insights from Katrina as well as fellow “Reimagine Work” leaders Sunita Holzer (EVP & CHRO, Realogy) and Josefina Martinez-Amador (SVP, HR, Cartus), and which was recently featured on www.worldwideerc.org.
From my perspective as someone who has worked in a client-facing role for many years, it has been an eye-opening and rewarding opportunity to work alongside talented colleagues to envision a new workplace scenario from the ground up. When the pandemic started to unfold, I was simultaneously anxious and excited when Cartus' executive leadership team approached me about leading our nascent “Reimagine Work” initiative. While figuring out where and how to begin could have been overwhelming, we knew it was essential to first understand the unique needs and viewpoints of our entire community to ensure that we set up our globally distributed workforce to be successful no matter what obstacles they faced.
Gathering diverse perspectives and insights from peers, I focused on ensuring that everyone within our sphere—from behind-the-scenes resource groups to our front-line consultants—felt recognized and included in the decision-making process and solutioning. Our best chance at success in this endeavor required inclusivity on every level (which Josefina will explore in detail in her own “Executive Perspectives” piece later this year)! It was critical to empower our workforce with the tools and emotional fortitude needed during these especially trying times in order to move forward.
After shifting my focus to our new initiative, I found that my usual day-to-day responsibilities were now the bottom layer of an enormous opportunity for personal growth. Variations of the expression are plentiful, yet the story rings true time and time again: when you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. Suffice it to say, I have not been particularly comfortable these past few months—in the best, most productive way possible. I truly believe that being a little uncomfortable is a good thing. It challenges us to find the means within ourselves to stretch farther than we believed possible. When you’re tapped for an initiative like this, you don’t want to fail, and that aversion to failure and quest for understanding the underlying issues drive you to succeed.
Prior to COVID-19, Cartus as an organization had already been considering the question of remote working and how we could adopt it more readily to improve recruitment and employee retention. Our long-term vision embraced flexibility at its core while providing unparalleled support for our global client base. The pandemic disrupted our (indeed, everyone’s) multi-year initiative, paving a fast-track to deliver high-quality solutions in the span of weeks instead of years. From formal procedures to hierarchy and leadership, we dismantled and studied every aspect of our current way of doing business along the path to effective solution-making.
Safety by Design
From day one, our priority was (and remains) employee safety. I often found myself facing difficult questions: Did I want to compromise the health of my family by working in a shared office space? Would productivity be compromised by adjusting to the unique demands of working from home? Cartus did not hesitate to act immediately in a situation otherwise clouded by indecision in the marketplace. Later in the process, we instituted a “Stop – Start – Continue" analysis, which was crucial to developing a fluid solution that we continue to adapt to the ever-changing work landscape.
The sense of relief that came from Cartus’ immediate action was multifaceted: while mitigating the fears of personal health and safety risks, there was a bittersweet realization that interactions with friends and colleagues and the excitement of daily office life would give way to the realities of our new virtual workplace dynamic.
While our process may appear “over-engineered” at times, this is often by design. For example, we anticipated and outlined procedures for any contingency we could fathom when it came to the seemingly simple task of employees picking up their technology packages. Input from HR, Facilities, IT, and Client Services all reflected a consolidated group effort to maintain “business as usual” without posing any unnecessary risk. Likewise, the ongoing process of reconfiguring our physical space, in-office requirements, and standard operating procedures required transparency and fine-tuned instruction so that the whole company can rest assured that we are prioritizing their welfare.
These months mark the early stages of the workplace transition to a “new normal.” We must continue to address questions such as: What is the long-term impact on business and culture? How do we enhance our new company culture in a revised and remote work environment? Equally importantly, we very much recognize that this is an ever-changing landscape that may shift in directions we haven’t anticipated, whether that’s six weeks from now or six months from now.
Either way, we look forward to sharing more thoughts on “Reimagining Work” and exploring the possibilities of a new workplace that empowers employees and businesses to succeed in whatever way that looks like.