As more and more companies ditch their COVID-era WFH and hybrid policies and require employees to return to the office full time, we’ve been reflecting on Lowe Group’s flexible approach to workplace attendance. Lowe Group has had remote and hybrid work options since long before the pandemic. With employees based around the U.S., Mexico and Europe over the years, the company has learned how to create a workplace culture that’s collaborative and effective no matter where team members are located.  

Even though we’re both based in Milwaukee, Ella prefers the routine of being in the office every day, while Elizabeth used to work fully remote and now enjoys a hybrid schedule. This blog post isn’t meant to say that one option is better than the other. Everyone has a different work style and we’ve found it works best when different styles are accommodated. And for some of our colleagues based in other states, we have no choice but to accommodate a fully remote schedule in order to engage their skillset on behalf of our clients. Lowe Group offers us the chance to define how and where we work best.  

Elizabeth’s POV: A hybrid schedule provides needed balance 

Elizabeth Terry, Client Services Senior Specialist

During the nearly four years I’ve been with Lowe Group, I’ve experienced a variety of work schedules. From starting out in the office, to going fully remote during the start of the pandemic, to now working a hybrid schedule, I’ve found that spending half the week at home and the other in the office works well for my work style.  

The first half is usually the busier part of the week, and I generally need to be focused to get through my to do list. For me, focus comes with quiet and as little distraction as possible. By working from home, I’m able to turn on my lyric-free classical music Spotify playlist and my “do not disturb” Teams notification and crank out a few hours of uninterrupted work each day. If I have a meeting-heavy day and I know I won’t have long stretches of consecutive work time, I like to get my big tasks done first thing in the morning before calls and emails start. When I don’t need to get dressed and commute into the office, it gives me an extra hour in the morning to work on projects before a busy day kicks off.  

Of course, I like to see my coworkers in person and working and living in one place can make me feel stir crazy on occasion. Going into the office later in the week gives me the balance I need to feel connected with colleagues and break up the monotony of sitting at my kitchen table for too long. Plus, if I still need to tap into the quiet of WFH to concentrate on a project, our office has a few private rooms to use.  

Ella’s POV: Working fully in person is key for new grads  

Ella Lawrence, Client Services Associate

I graduated college in May 2022 and started working full-time at Lowe Group in June 2022, and I go into the office every day. Most of my peers either work fully virtually or have a hybrid schedule, so, when I began my fully in-person routine, I didn’t know how I was going to adapt. After being in college during the pandemic, I was used to virtual and asynchronous classes. Working in-person each day would be a change!  

I am now a year into my career, and I can confidently credit my growth and new knowledge to working in the office. Each day I am surrounded by my co-workers who have vastly more experience than me. I overhear them on calls, can quickly pop into their office for a question or chat and have learned proper office etiquette. Being surrounded by financial public relations and marketing all day, my vocabulary and knowledge about the industry has grown twice as much as it would have if I worked from home. I am part of the conversations that happen in the office, involved with day-to-day planning and have better relationships with my colleagues.  

I also see the benefits of working in person reflected in my personal life. Working in the office allows me to have a healthy balance between my work life and my personal life. When I am in the office, my mind is zeroed in on work and when I am at home, I am thinking about life outside of work. On occasion, I work from home if I am traveling or under the weather. I don’t mind it from time to time, but I do find it hard to wrap my day up from my house. I feel like I never actually log off and begin my life outside of work. All in all, I like work to be at work and home to be at home, but I am grateful to have the work from home option when necessary.  

Building camaraderie with diverse work styles

Lowe Group values a sense of community and working closely as an organization. With our handful of remote employees, we have found ways to achieve that sense of community by being in close contact with our team each day. We utilize Microsoft Teams for both chat and video calls and know we are only a quick phone call away from each other. We also make sure to meet frequently as a team for virtual work sessions and group “lunch & learn” events.  Lastly, we gather in person for a team retreat each year and are sure to take time to celebrate our accomplishments and build common experiences. 

We believe that every employee works differently and thrives in different environments. A business that trusts that its employees have the company’s best interests at heart and learns to accommodate various work styles is more likely to be successful. 

Jody’s POV: It’s about outcomes, not facetime

Jody Lowe, President & Founder

I’ve totally evolved my views on flexible work arrangements over the 20 years of our agency’s existence. Even before the pandemic, it wasn’t common for agencies to be 100% virtual with no physical offices, but Lowe Group had always had a staff that worked only from our Wisconsin-based offices. Many of us came from financial firms. We were in the office at the same hours as our clients, and wearing professional dress. I’m happy to say our culture has shifted to allow associates to work where and how they are most productive. 

In 2017, a valued part-time employee of the Lowe Group had an opportunity to participate in a Fulbright program in Vienna. We figured out a way to keep her on staff part time even though she would be living in another part of the world. That same employee later joined our firm full time working 100% remotely, this time from a similar time zone working from Mexico.   

This extremely positive experience with remote work really helped us all transition to work from home during the pandemic. Then, when a few new jobs opened up at the Lowe Group during and after the pandemic, we were able to add staff with unique skills to our team regardless of their location. We’ve also seen staff members’ circumstances change. Flexible work can be especially helpful for staff with young families who really benefit from working from home on days when they may need to attend a school event or support a sick child.   

The good news is we really think a lot less about face time and more about outcomes. It sometimes takes a little more time, but the onus is on each of us to make sure we have the information we need to do our jobs and that we take the time to build camaraderie and teamwork.