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Companies, employees trying to find balance with return to the office

Posted at 6:49 AM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 16:43:46-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After three decades at Lexmark, the past year and a half proved one of the biggest challenges yet for Sharon Votaw, the company’s senior vice president and chief human resource officer.

“I’ve always told people over the years, if you don’t like change, you can’t work at Lexmark,” she said. “But the last 18 months have been on steroids.”

Lexmark welcomed employees back on June 1, but she says the option of remote work is here to stay. Last year, the company created a new policy for their 8,000 employees worldwide called “Flex Lex.” It now allows up to two days a week for people to work from home if it’s possible with their job.

The company had already offered remote work opportunities pre-pandemic, but Votaw tells LEX 18 we’ll likely see it post-pandemic, for good.

“Other employers are starting to catch up to where we already were,” she explained. “So it's important to us that we attract and retain key talent at Lexmark. Part of that is offering a flexible workplace.”

Valvoline has the same idea. It's giving employees the option to stay working from home or adopt a hybrid schedule.

Chief People Officer Jon Caldwell estimates 1/3 of the 500 employees at their Lexington headquarters will stay remote, while the remaining employees will operate on a flex schedule.

“It’s offered us a nice competitive advantage as we seek to attract top talent, and even retain our top talent,” Caldwell said. He said there are no plans to require full-time office work. Instead, a focus on flexibility is the future of the workforce.

“In a lot of cases, maybe we were forced to do so more than ever before, with the pandemic,” he said. “But I do think it's one positive outcome of the challenging period we've had over the last several months.”

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, Lexmark says they are not currently required but strongly encouraged. At Valvoline, vaccinated employees can return to the office on July 6. Other employees are expected to be able to return by this fall at the latest.

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