How Walker Sands’ People-First Culture Levels Up Hybrid and Remote Work
At Walker Sands, we support a people-first culture in which compassion guides our decision-making. And that means we’ve made flexible work options a permanent part of our agency life.
Employees are able to work a hybrid schedule, with a mix of in-office and remote work. Our agency also has employees that work fully remote and are able to connect with their teams and clients virtually.
We employed both hybrid and remote workers prior to the pandemic. But the rapid transition to remote work in the early days of COVID-19 challenged us to reexamine how we might better support our remote and hybrid employees. As a result, we intentionally implemented policies to ensure all our employees, regardless of location, have access to the resources and opportunities they need to grow in their careers.
Our agency has succeeded in providing a flexible work environment through innovation, experimentation and employee feedback. By listening to team members and discovering what works, we’ve created opportunities for our team members to make connections and access learning opportunities from anywhere.
Here are three ways we work to support our hybrid and remote workers every day:
1. Celebrating human connection
At Walker Sands, we want to make sure remote and hybrid work doesn’t stifle human connection. Our employees told us that getting to know teammates is one of the top challenges they experience when working from geographically dispersed locations. That’s understandable because the relationship-building and knowledge-sharing that occur organically in the office disappear in a digital setting — unless you provide opportunities for them to happen. That’s why we make it a point to create “micro-moments” so people can bond even when they’re not physically located in the same place.
We start helping new hires cultivate connections with other employees on day one. In our onboarding process, all new hires start in cohorts, giving them a built-in community within the agency. We also assign each new hire a buddy to make the transition to our agency easier and facilitate relationship-building across teams.
But the connections don’t stop there. As an agency, we work across various account teams and departments, allowing everyone to meet and collaborate with different people on a regular basis. And we always find the fun to inspire connections through optional, agency-sponsored events like our virtual trivia games or happy hours, both in-person and remote. The key is to build connections into our company culture so they don’t feel like a chore.
2. Championing DEI
One of the benefits of a remote and hybrid model is that it allows us to hire from a larger talent pool. Walker Sands employs people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We encourage everyone to bring their whole selves to work because we believe diversity enhances the creative process and fuels innovation. That’s why we structure our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives so all hybrid and remote employees can participate.
Throughout the year, we recognize cultural diversity through intentional programming and events. We frequently invite guest speakers to facilitate conversations and share culturally informed learning opportunities like origami folding and Bachata dancing. We also encourage employees to participate in various employee resource groups including Walker People of Color, Walker Women, Walker Parents, Walker PRIDE and Walker Disability (mental + physical). These opportunities are just some ways we commit to providing employees with a culture of inclusivity in which everyone has a seat at the table.
3. Foster learning opportunities
Learning is not only one of Walker Sands’ core values. It is a core element of working at our agency. We encourage everyone to share their knowledge and learn from one another. We also work to make sure our learning opportunities are accessible for both hybrid and fully remote employees. From offering workshops to encouraging individuals to share their industry knowledge, we want to empower everyone with the information they need to succeed.
Our individualized coaching program is a key element of our commitment to constant learning. Every employee receives personalized guidance on how to improve their performance and grow in their roles from their manager (or coach) during weekly 1:1 check-ins and bi-annual sessions to reflect on larger goals and progress. We avoid a one-size-fits-all approach because we want coaches to tailor the process to each employee’s needs and goals at our agency.
Additionally, our mentorship program creates opportunities for employees to learn from senior team members across the agency. Through interactions with a mentor, employees learn new skills, discover the latest resources and get career advice. We also encourage all our employees to connect with their peer groups to brainstorm ideas, share advice and build connections via Slack or virtual coffee chats. Ultimately, we want everyone at our agency to learn from each other’s experiences.
Our hybrid and remote work options will undoubtedly evolve as our agency grows and scales. But we will continue to empower our employees to share their ideas and feedback— and leverage their insights to create policies and programs that make working at Walker Sands a positive experience for everyone.
Interested in joining our team? Check out our open positions.