Human Resource Management

Insights from Leaders on Employee Engagement and Performance in the "Work-From-Home" Environment

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations quickly supported employees working from home, and with this transition has come new opportunities and challenges.

  • How can organizations thrive in this environment?
  • How does an organization leverage the many benefits of increased flexibility?
  • How can we innovate to develop a means to ameliorate the loss of the office environment?

FIU’s Master of Science in Human Resource Management program hosted a webinar,   Is My Mic On? Insights from Leaders on Employee Engagement and Performance in the Work From Home Environment, to discuss with the business community how remote work has impacted organizational culture and productivity. Participants shared how effective leaders measure and manage performance while keeping their employees engaged in a "work-from-home" environment.

Meet the Speakers

Moderator:   Marc Weinstein is a clinical professor of management at FIU. Weinstein specializes in the areas of occupational safety and health and employee wellness.

Guests Speakers

Jose Tomas  is the principal and managing partner of BrandSparc. Previously, as senior vice president of global human resources for General Motors, he was responsible for the company’s human capital strategy impacting nearly two hundred thousand employees throughout the world. Tomas has held other senior leadership roles at Anthem, Burger King and Ryder System Inc. and has served as a board member for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Danny Rivera  is the president of the maintenance division of Driven Brands and is responsible for 800 Meineke Car Care Centers and 500 Take 5 Oil Change Centers throughout North America.

Table of Contents

  1. How has the large move to employees working from home changed things for organizations?
  2. How are companies measuring productivity in the work-from-home environment?
  3. How are companies measuring productivity in the work from home environment using KPIs?
  4. You must have people who are high performers in the organization under normal circumstances, who might be struggling now. Have you seen that? Is there anything that managers can do to help those individuals?
  5. Are employees communicating more than they should be? Or should they feel inhibited? How do you feel about over-communication both ways?
  6. This current pandemic has accelerated new trends that have already existed. So we've had video conferencing, but now people are much more likely jumping on Zoom. Have you seen an uptick in that? Is that anything that needs to be managed?
  7. Could we go through some of the advantages and disadvantages of the work-from-home environment?
  8. How do you transmit culture during this time?
  9. How do you sense when an employee is becoming burned down? And is there any specific support that we should be providing?
  10. How do you measure culture, and are you measuring it differently now? And are there other ways that we're measuring engagement with the larger work from home workforce?
  11. Is a work schedule something that could be negotiated between individuals or is there a need, at some point, for organizational policies on this?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How has the large move to employees working from home changed things for organizations?

Jose Tomas:  The perception of some CEOs is that working from home could be impacting culture and productivity in a negative way. But in speaking with heads of HR and, in some instances, CEOs and chief marketing officers, is that there isn't a one-size-fits-all. You have the group of folks that really believe that this is impacting productivity, engagement, and culture in a very negative way.

You have another group that has stated, “Well, you know what, we've gotten used to this. Let's go ahead and allow a longer period of testing for our organizations to see how this is working out.” And in fact, some have made the decision that they can even get rid of real estate and the footprint that they have today and go forward, long-term, in a work-from-home environment.

How are companies measuring productivity in the work-from-home environment?

Jose Tomas:   I think that many organizations are struggling with how to measure productivity and how to measure performance in this type of environment. I had a recent conversation with a group of total rewards professionals that were trying to decide how they want to award their performance-based bonuses and short-term incentive plans this year. They've been struggling with trying to measure performance beyond the obvious metrics.

In fact, I had one particular CHRO that said that they were measuring data flow information coming back and forth through their computer systems. They found how, in some instances, information was flowing, really, really well early in the morning. Then it just went down to almost nothing around lunchtime and extended for an amount of time, and then it skyrocketed near the end of the day.

The perception was that maybe people are working longer days or maybe they're working longer hours in general. But the belief of this particular CEO was that the data flowing back and forth does not indicate that they're actually being as productive, which is indicative of their culture.

They were measuring productivity on the basis of data flow as opposed to what folks were truly delivering in the organization.

But again, it's no one-size-fits-all, and this is definitely impacting how productivity and performance is being measured right now.

Danny Rivera:   I agree with Jose. There's no one size fits all. The work-from home-environment puts your culture under a microscope. So, in a world where you're remote, now you can't do the idle hallway conversations. However, it is that businesses ultimately get managed, now you're forced to manage something in a way that you're uncomfortable with, and that's when your culture really starts to shine. It's like when you say to people, "adversity is what brings out character," right? It's kind of the same concept.

I won't speak in hypothetical terms, so I'll try to keep it to what we've seen and how I think we've done in our organization. We've been very successful through this, as successful as we were prior to COVID, if not better. And I believe our culture is a big part of that reason.

At the core of our culture is a focus on results and a focus on measuring key performance indicators (KPIs).

These are not new topics, we do things that people talk about, and we execute really well.

How are companies measuring productivity in the work-from-home environment using KPIs?

Danny Rivera:   We have applied KPIs all the way through the organization at the highest level. I'm held accountable to even off sales, car counts, SG&A, and all the normal things that an executive should be held accountable to, and I think every company does that.

If you stop there, then you're missing kind of a point, right? Any executive, any executive team, anybody VP and above, if you're not talking about those core metrics, I don't know what you're doing. Where I think we've gone a step beyond is that KPIs for us is down to every single person, every single group, every single department. So if I'm talking to the marketing team, they've got their own KPIs (car count, subcategories of car count, returning customers, new customers, B2B business, etc.), and we share some of these KPIs - these things have to ladder up. You don't want the marketing team working on things that are not in my realm of visibility.

I may not be focused on all those metrics at my level, but at their level, they have their KPIs, and they're held accountable down to the individual. Same concept applies to operations, HR, every function.

I feel like if you have a culture like that, this conversation about productivity, where that gets kind of murky, Jose kind of alluded to it, is when you start talking productivity in terms of, I'll be kind of crass about it, “butts in seats,” that kind of management style. “We must be productive because I can see a bunch of people on the floor.” Anybody that's worked for any decent amount of time knows that you can have your butt in your seat and not work. That's not necessarily the best measure of productivity.

Great productivity for me is when I meet with my marketing team, who has five KPIs that they are responsible for, and we're hitting each and every one of those. Once that's happening, the business results are being delivered. I almost don't care when you're working.

Danny, your organization has a very strong performance culture, where people know what they're supposed to do, and there's measures of it, and there's accountability. I know from speaking to you that you're quite comfortable working from this work-from-home environment, but you must have people who are high performers in the organization under normal circumstances, who might be struggling a bit. Have you seen that? Is there anything that managers can do to help those individuals?

Danny Rivera:  I, personally, can't say that I know of any individuals that work for me or that I speak to that don't like this world better from a work perspective. It offers a lot of flexibility, and it offers a lot of collaboration in a different way. I don't believe that you have to be 100% virtual, though. That's not right either—Jose kind of implied that there is a balance there. We do find opportunities to get together as a team, to do the kind of things that you can only do in person. So, I personally don't know a lot of data points, but maybe Jose does.

Jose Tomas:  I'll add to this because this is where we are starting to see the differences between one HR function and another HR function. And there are some stars that are really rising to the occasion because they understand that HR can help drive performance in an organization. Meaning that they're getting with their CEOs, they're getting with their other C-suite executives, their other leadership, and they're saying, "how else can you manage performance beyond just face-time?" How else are you ensuring that folks are being measured in a way that is unbiased and that is clear and specific? And in some organizations, that wasn't the case. You didn't have performance measures that were cascaded from the CEO all the way down.

In fact, I had a CHRO that called me up and said, "Jose, how do I start documenting the metrics for our function?" And I said, "well, to start, let's hear how many you have?" And we started going through some of the most ordinary ones, things like turnover or things like succession planning. It still can be measured, but engagement was something that they were lacking. So, they started to do brief engagement surveys. Anything that could be measured that demonstrated that the function was actually performing and that individuals within the function were performing. So, I think this is where you start to see those HR professionals that are able to clearly articulate a performance measure, or KPIs that Danny indicated, that can help lead the organization.

Everything is measurable in an organization. Everything is measurable. Danny and I have a common saying, "if you can't measure it, then you probably shouldn't be doing it," because what's the value if you can't measure a particular task? Again, focusing on not what you just did, but what you delivered. One aspect that I would ask people to leave with is:

If you're leading an HR function, if you're involved in an HR function right now, consider the metrics, the measures in your own organization and then help those that are your counterparts determine what their key performance indicators are, the metrics that are going to drive success as opposed to just being face-time-driven, loyalty-driven, and tenure-driven, which you might have known for some time.

You mentioned to me previously that you're finding that leaders in certain circumstances are communicating and over-communicating, and that's a really good thing. I was wondering, from the perspective of the employee, are employees communicating more than they should be? Or should they feel inhibited? Because you can imagine that as someone who is trying to do well in the organization, you still want to "check-in upstairs" to make sure you're going in the right direction. So, how do you feel about over-communication both ways?

Jose Tomas:  Right now, what we have found is that the C-suite and the senior leaders have to over communicate in different types of media depending on the employee population. We're starting to see podcasts becoming very prevalent, we're starting to see videos on the internet, and videos being sent with links to people's email boxes. We're starting to see mailers again - going back to early media. A lot of companies are starting to leverage text messaging with links in them.

What I will tell you is that in a situation, like even early on during the pandemic,

What we found is that in the organizations that were not communicating constantly and reeling information, people were filling the void and that vacuum with rumors and fear.

On the other hand, over the course of time, as CEOs and other C-suite executives got used to the idea that maybe they need to start communicating more often, they started using different platforms. And you see it today, and you see folks having far more frequent conversations in different formats as opposed to just telephone or even Zoom. And that also is helping drive engagement at this current point as opposed to just allowing the vacuum to be filled by rumors and by, in some instances, false information that's going on.

Danny Rivera:  I couldn't agree more. When I was running the Meineke business a few years ago, we had a forum where you could post a question and post a comment - a back and forth iterative online dialogue, so nothing novel from a technology perspective. That was a franchise business, so you have franchisees who pay us money to provide certain services, and they're talking amongst each other (franchisee to franchisee). They're posting things to us (franchisee to corporate), and we're doing it the other way around. And let's just say the conversations could get quite intense. In a franchising relationship, franchisees make their money off the bottom. Franchise owners make it off the top. Whenever that's the relationship, there are all sorts of fun opportunities for lively debate.

So, that message board could get pretty heated. I remember getting questions early on from my team saying, "Why don't we just take it down? It's just all these really bad comments on there." And I said no. The fact of the matter is, these comments happen whether you see them or you don't see them. So, which position do you want to be in? Do you want to see it and then be a part of the discussion and maybe persuade some people to another way of thinking? Or do you want it to happen and you know nothing about it, and you have no opportunity to either a) understand what the dynamic is or b) have any hope of persuading somebody to another opinion?

So, the transparency and the multiple avenues of communication (with business partners or your employee) is hugely important.

Jose Tomas:  And I'll add, Danny, because you brought up the social media aspect as well, I think if you're not managing your Glassdoor, your Indeed messaging… If you're not getting on LinkedIn and proactively putting information in there about the organization, if you're not managing that, again, others are doing it for you. And yes, there needs to be organic dialogue, but you need to be able to put information in there that's also informing not only your employees but prospective employees of what's going on in your business. Communication should not happen within the four walls of some companies. It needs to happen in the social media platforms as well.

This current pandemic has accelerated new trends that have already existed. So we've had video conferencing, but now people are much more likely jumping on Zoom. There have always been discussions that would parallel the official discussion channels of organizations on social media and elsewhere. Have you seen an uptick in that? Is that anything that needs to be managed?

Jose Tomas:  It needs to be managed. Information needs to go out there far more frequently, far more concisely. It needs to be disseminated from the organization so that the messaging and the conversations happen as a result of the organization sharing what's going on.

And if business is bad, you have to tell people, "business is bad." If business is good, you have to tell them, "business is good." Don't let them assume that things are going poorly or, conversely, that everything is working out as planned. You need to continue to keep folks informed. You don't want somebody to find out that employees that are currently furloughed are going to be laid off over social media. You need to be able to communicate that information early on and let people know what's going on. 

I also think, and I'll let Danny add on that, that there are other ways of ensuring you're engaging not only your employees but also a broader population at home. I've seen companies that have decided to send “branded ware” to their employees at home. They want to feel like if I get on a Zoom call, I should have my company's brand or logo.

I've seen companies sending branded things for the family: t-shirts that say, "my mom works at this company," pet supplies like dog balls. Think about it, you have this type of stuff, and maybe the dog won't acknowledge the fact that you work for a particular employer, but your family knows and recognizes that you work for a particular company because now they're getting, what we use to call in the old days, tchotchkes at home that show your company's brand and therefore, it goes into their company's employment value proposition.

Danny Rivera:   I wouldn't say that we've seen an uptick in communication - we've kind of always had it. Great things in business happen not because someone found some extremely novel thing that nobody's thought of. That happens few and far between. I think where the magic happens is when you do things for real and not when you say you do things.

The reason we've gotten engagement prior to COVID and post-COVID through message boards or any kind of newsletter communication dialogue technology that we're talking about is because it's part of our culture. When we put this technology out there, we made the commitment as an executive and a management team that we're going to have people that are responsible for the channels and get an answer up within 15 minutes. When you do those things and answer transparently (in a non-gobbledygook way, you're just going to answer the question without a bunch of fancy-sounding words), you engender trust, you engender this sense that somebody is being authentic and that people can get an answer.

If you just throw up a message board and nobody answers a question for 72 hours, who cares if you put cool technology out there. You are still not able to engage.

I remember, many moons ago at this point, I answered a forum post when I was president of Meineke. It was like one o'clock in the morning because I happened to see it come through, and I happen to answer it. I didn't have any intent behind it, other than I happen to see it. And I was up, and I responded to the question. The franchisees remembered that for four years. For four years, people were saying that the company president was up at one o'clock and answered a post. Now, don't take away from that that you should be up at one o'clock answering posts. The takeaway is that our response was authentic, and it was managed. It wasn't just a thing we put out there, but there was substance behind it. That's what separates success from non-success, in my opinion.

As I read the popular business press, Fortune magazine, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, I've read that Jamie Diamond and Larry Fink are not fans of this work-from-home environment. They're sort of anxious to get back. They feel both culture and productivity has been negatively affected.

Danny, you're pretty comfortable in this work-from-home environment. You feel that your organization is well prepared for it. So clearly, there are different opinions. Could we go through some of the advantages and disadvantages of the work-from-home environment?

So, for instance, an advantage is that if you have a mostly work-from-home workforce, you have fewer geographic boundaries in recruiting talent, but on the other hand, there are challenges with onboarding.

Jose Tomas:  At the beginning, some companies were asking their HR functions to look for ways to save because revenue went down. One of the first things that we started looking at is how do we, for lack of a better term, reduce labor. There were a lot of layoffs and furloughs, unfortunately. Not the things that are sustainably good for an organization.

One of the positive aspects about working from home, and you've seen it is as it happened in the recession of 2008-2009 period, is that it removes the real estate footprint. That's coming up quite a bit: reducing real estate costs so that the drops in revenue doesn't impact their employee populations.

In a virtual workplace, we can now look for the best talent rather than the one available locally.

Many companies have made a conscious decision not to hold themselves to a particular geographic area. Now we can find the best person and not ask them to move to our city. And I think Danny, you've had a personal experience, but I've seen that happen quite a bit.

Some of the drawbacks are - let's be frank here - some bosses are struggling with this, and some employees are struggling. We all believe that this is helping work-life balance - not necessarily. Some like to think that, "Oh, we're home. We get to do things, and we're going to take time off to have furniture delivered." Before we had to leave the office, the reality is not so clear and distinct in the sense that work-life balance is working for everybody. We've heard from a lot of employees that want to go back to an office or hybrid office, and there's a lot of models that are starting up.

There is a misconception that everybody just loves working from home. That's not the case.

And we started to see quite a bit of that.

Danny Rivera:  That's right. A long time ago, you had a clear distinction between work and home. I was in the office; I was working. I went home, and I wasn't working. I didn't have a cell phone or email.

That hasn't been true for a very long time. But what's happening now, there is no distinction. I could five minutes from now be in my kitchen because some work is happening there. Five minutes later, I have a board meeting, and then 10 minutes later, I'm talking to an employee. Life has morphed into this… where at any point, I'm doing something that may or may not be work-related. And some people struggle with that. It can be hard to turn it on and turn it off at a moment's notice all the time.

Not all people are built the same way. So, if you're the type of person that's very extroverted and very social, I can see this being very difficult. I'm super introverted. So, I'm sitting in my office, and I'm managing my team. I have the conversations I need to have, and I'm super okay with that. Not everybody's like that, and that's very valid. Some people need more human exposure.

So I envision the future with a hybrid solution that balances work-from-home’s advantages and disadvantages.

There is a place and a time to be virtual and offer the flexibility that comes with that. And then some things should be done in person. Certain bonds can only be built in person. As an organization, and as leaders, you need to think through both questions: How do you enable opportunities to create bonds in a human and personal way? How do you benefit from this world where you could be hyper-focused and push?

The single biggest pro that came out of this is the opportunity to focus. All of a sudden, our revenue went down 35%, and that's amazing! We were having a record year, and three weeks later, we're down 35%. There is an energy that comes with focusing when you're down 35% in sales, with no end in sight. By the way, it's easy to say that now, because things have recovered, my business is doing great. Some months ago, I didn't know if there was an end in sight to this thing. I said, "Okay. What really matters?" That's the only thing that we can afford to do right now. I remember I was looking at wire transfers leaving the company and the cash coming in. It got down to the most critical aspects, and that's it. Everything else was fluff. There's tremendous energy, clarity, and confidence that comes with that.

Jose Tomas:  There is no question about the fact that culture is being impacted right now. And if you're not focused on your company's culture, it's going to morph into something that may not be planned. It may not be what you want from your organization. And the reason for that is because, as we're all sitting at home, as we’re all working in our own environments, if information is not coming from the top, if it's not coming from your functional leader, the vacuum is created and is filled with actions and verbiage that impacts the company’s well-being and its culture.

So, you have to be conscious of it.

You have to ensure that the vision, the values, the mission of your organization are well articulated into activities and cascaded throughout your organization in this virtual world.

And that's where we started to see a lot of senior leaders really get anxious. They check the box on performance because they get to quickly shift into a more performance driven environment, but they're generally struggling with culture.

How do you transmit culture during this time?

Jose Tomas:  What we've seen is organizations that did not have a defined value system are now all of the sudden creating one. In other words, who are you as an organization? Are you innovative? Are you driven by meritocracy? Do you have values that have shaped your culture, or is it more of the boss’s culture (the founder that created it, and then it cascaded)?

That's okay, but you need to start to document what are those values? Once you start aggregating that, you can start to articulate key actions that the organization can take. That's where we as HR professionals have the ability to measure and impact how culture is being disseminated in the organization.

For example, if you do have a meritocratic culture, and that's part of their value system, at the end of the year when they start evaluating people, are they evaluating based on results? Or are they evaluating based on what folks actually did? In other words, are they going to measure the financial results of your organization? Or are they going to say, “well, you worked really, really hard. That's going to get you the highest bonus.” Or is it going to be more about what you delivered?

So, it's about ensuring that you have key elements of your value system that are created, disseminated, and measured in this type of environment. It's not just, "we're all balling off of each other's behaviors in the workplace." Beyond that, what I've seen working very well is that if you do have a value system, you need to communicate it over and over and over again. And if you believe you have a meritocratic environment, if you believe that you're innovative, if you believe that you care for people, you have to constantly talk about that. 

And I'm not talking about once a quarter and embedded into the CEO speech. I'm talking about every week, every day, every message. It needs to be branded to your culture and have those key values and those key components that you really want to drive. The more people hear it, the more they believe it. It has to be real, though. It certainly could have some aspirational components. Maybe you're not an innovative company. That's okay, but if you put in there that you want to be innovative and you continue to talk about it, and you encourage people to bring innovation to the table, that impacts your culture.

Danny Rivera:   I couldn't agree more. Culture is about what you talk about. So much of culture is language. When you have a meeting, what are the things that you talk about? If you say that you're running a meritocracy and the people that move ahead are the people that deliver results. Yet, you never talked about results, that's when employees feel like, "Well, you know, how do you reconcile those two statements?"

If I think about routines that we run at my company every month, I have what we call a business review to look at the business soup to nuts - everything. The very first page on that presentation, where we start talking about it as a team, is our objectives, our KPIs. When I say KPIs, it's the number, the actual, and a target. And the targets don't change. We're constantly reinforcing this sense of these are targets that we have to hit.

When you talk about innovation, to Jose's point, I think innovation is often confused with product creation. Apple is innovative, right? Yes, obviously, there's a form of innovation, which is you create a gadget or something that's completely new for the world. That's certainly a form of innovation.

Other forms of innovation are, for example, when you say simple things like turnover is 150%. I want it to be 125%. You put a team around that. And nobody knows how to answer that question when you start. You iterate a bunch of solutions, and eventually, you find that solution. That's a form of innovation. Nobody's going to give you kudos about it in   Wired  magazine, but it's innovation nonetheless.

How do you sense when an employee is becoming burned down? And is there any specific support that we should be providing?

Danny Rivera:  I believe that identification is the easier part.

If you're a manager and you're surprised by somebody quitting on you and saying that they're burnt out, my experience tells me that you missed a lot of cues along the way, and you need to pay attention.

So, I don't think the identification is the issue. I think the issue is, how do you help this person manage their workload and not feel burnt out. And to me, it comes down to prioritization. When I think about the job of a leader, whether you're the CEO or the manager or anything in between, there's a few jobs that you have as a leader:

  1. Vision - where are we going, and why is that a better place for all of us?
  2. Help people understand and prioritize what are the most important things to help us get there

So, whenever I have burnout employees, and I have them, the exercise needs to be, “Hey, let's talk about what is your group, what are you responsible for? And what are the three things that matter?” And if you're spending 80% of your time on something that's not those three things, you're just creating work for yourself.

Our culture is one that, I'm not going to reward you for that. You telling me that you work 120 hours this week on a bunch of stuff that isn't one of the top three priorities doesn't get you far with me. It's actually the opposite. It's a poor use of your time, it's a poor use of company resources, and poor use of your sanity. Like you're a great employee, I want you to be with me for a long time.

I don't need you burnt out because you're creating work for yourself that you want to believe is important, but it's not.

So, your ability as a leader to help prioritize and set clear distinctions on these are things that matter and have to get done, and these are things that will get to someday if we have time. I think it's hugely important.

How do you measure culture, and are you measuring it differently now? And are there other ways that we're measuring engagement with the larger work from home workforce?

Jose Tomas:  The one thing that I can tell you about innovation during the pandemic is there's been a lot of technology that's been developed, as a result of the pandemic, to help organizations measure things, such as your values and your culture. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go out there and buy a platform to survey your employees or to determine whether or not there's engagement across your organization because I've seen it done with a Survey Monkey.

And what I mean by that is the value system and the culture that you want to ensure is in your organization has to first be articulated in some way, shape, or form. You have to be able to first put it on paper. These are our values. It starts that simple. What does that mean? What does it mean to care for others? What does it mean to be meritocratic? What does it mean to have fun in your organization? And once you start detailing those elements, then it's as simple as your HR team sending out pulse surveys and developing a benchmark and then measuring from there how things are progressing.

If you would have done this prior to the pandemic, if you would have had these terminologies drafted at the beginning of the pandemic and then every two weeks, send out the same identical survey. And maybe to different people, maybe to a different population, maybe on a pulse survey, so that you don't burden the same individuals over and over again. You get to see the benchmarks that are moving. You get to see the measures actually going up or down depending on the trends, depending on how things are going, and how people are feeling.

Everything is measurable in terms of culture and values - everything. And we go back years looking at how did we position these things into even performance measurements? So, if we wanted to measure certain cultural elements such as, in some cases, fun. I know this is a really interesting one, but we started to measure fun. How do you measure fun? Well, we wanted to know whether or not you were doing things with your team: team-building exercises in some instances. Whether they actually we're coming back and saying, "Yeah, I have fun working here." That's how you measure fun, and it's a value system, and it's a cultural element of your organization.

Not every organization wants to be fun. That's okay. But it's certainly one that we were able to measure. So, I think everything is measurable. You have to first articulate the items included into your values. And then, every so often, just ask, "is it happening?" If you really talk about promotions from within as a value system, as a cultural element, then how many people have you really promoted from within? That's easy.

Danny Rivera:   I couldn't agree more. So, think of it this way,

If you can't measure something, you probably haven't defined it well enough.

So the question in and of itself is a great question. How do you measure culture? "I don't know" is my honest answer because culture is such an ambiguous word. It means all manner of sin to all manner of people. So, what is your culture? Which is Jose's core point, right?

When you say culture, what do you stand for? Do you stand for meritocracy? That's a simple one, right? That's a big part of our culture. As soon as I say, "one of the pillars of our culture is meritocracy," a.k.a. people that deliver results get ahead, that's easily measured. I can look at promotions and look at their performance versus their peers and I can prove to somebody that the people that move ahead in my organization are the people that perform. If you say inclusiveness or diversity is a core part of your culture, as soon as you're that specific, you can measure that.

So, think about it in the inverse. When we say, "anything is measurable," literally anything is measurable. If you can't measure it, then you probably just haven't asked the right question.

I know I've done this - answering that email at one o'clock in the morning. That's who I am, but at the same time, I'm concerned. I'm mindful not to set the expectation that everybody who works for me has to be 24/7. At the same time, we want to be approachable. At the same time, we do need boundaries.

I was wondering whether a work schedule is something that could be negotiated between individuals or is there a need, at some point, for organizational policies on this?

Danny Rivera:  I personally am not a huge believer in company policies about when you work or when you don't work. I think as a leader, there are common sense things. I agree with the statement you made. I've never expected my people to work the hours that I work. I don't. I don't put out the hours that I work. I do what I have to do when I have to do it.

The way that I think about it is, some things are non-negotiable, right? You got to show up to meetings. So, if you accepted a meeting, you got to show up to the meeting. That's common sense to me. If you need to bail out at two o'clock, and you've got nothing else on your calendar, because you've got some personal thing that you got to take care of - I couldn't care less. But again, in my world, where I start to care about that stuff is if we're having different conversations like, "Hey Danny, you know, this project that we agreed on that was going to be due on Monday is two weeks behind." Okay, well, now I start to care about how you're spending your time because you're behind on something that's important.

So, I think that's a style thing. Not everybody is the same. Some people probably love to work nine to five, and then they completely tune out after five. Cool, I couldn't care less. Some people like to work at one o'clock because you know that's their second wave of energy. Cool, you know, as long as the work is getting done, I'm fine. And as long as you're meeting your commitments. But I'm not a big fan of the CEO saying this is the work policy, and you will be here at these times. I just think that doesn't account for life.

Jose Tomas: I think it also depends on the job class. I had a client that called me up and said, "I need to have these customer service reps work from home because we're sending them home, and the job is nine to five because that's where we've communicated to the client."

But beyond that, if you're in marketing, a creative person, or if you're an HR professional - does it really matter? As long as you're responding to it. Who cares if they're working from midnight to 8 a.m.? In some instances, people are traveling. They're working from other parts of the world. And the time changes are, or time zone differences, are also impacting that. Again, not a big deal. I think it just depends on the job itself.

Mark Weinstein final remarks:   I think for American executives, and for a lot of non-executives, that

We've been sort of blending work and life for quite some time in the United States, for better or for worse.

So in that sense, perhaps as a country, we've been able to manage this transition a bit.