Staffing company converting to remote work permanently

Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 1:38 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - It’s been almost a full year since many Americans were pushed out of the office and online in light of the pandemic, and now some companies are choosing to keep employees at their home offices permanently.

Boston-based Aquent will close down most of its offices, including one in Henrico’s West End.

The company says it wants to take that money saved from leasing space, and instead use it for employee engagement programs: activities so their workers won’t feel so disconnected from their work families.

“We have seen that remote work is the future. It’s all of our present too. The reality is that people, myself included, like working from home,” Aquent’s Mid-Atlantic Director Sarah-Tyler Moore said.

She was based at the company’s Forest Avenue office.

The staffing company connects temp workers with marketing and creative agencies and has 35 offices in the US and Canada.

The company’s CEO, John Chuang decided in December 2020 to let most of those leases expire, saving them about $600,000 which will partially end up being invested in employee wellbeing activities, like book clubs or cooking nights.

“We’re not just having a meeting to have a meeting. We’re having a meeting to create that community that you might normally get the water cooler,” Moore said.

The transition to working from home could be tough for some, which is why they’re also hiring a head of Community and Culture to oversee employee engagement, but also deal with issues that come with remote work.

“That could be technology or that could be ‘I have a five-year-old here’ like I did a couple of weeks ago,” Moore said, adding, “Making sure that we’re taking care of that and addressing that, and we’re providing that employee with the support.”

She says that productivity at Aquent had not dipped during their initial work-from-home phase. Coupled with positive employee feedback, is what helped their CEO make the decision for the transition.

“Not only does it save you money, but it also really takes care of the entire employee. That’s something that I know my teammates, and people that I’ve talked to at my company do appreciate.”

Aquent says their lease for the office they use in the Henrico office ends in November, and they’ll still keep 10% of their office space for large meetings or special projects and clients.

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