The challenge of attracting and retaining top talent in the automotive sector is not new. Employee turnover, difficulty courting new blood to our industry, and a struggle to create a truly diverse workplace that better mirrors the marketplace have been pervasive pain points I’ve witnessed throughout my career. And with them comes the pressure of offering expansive office environments with matching high-carbon footprints. So how do we manage such forces in a post-pandemic world that has radically changed how we live, work, shop and buy cars?
One solution I’ve found that keeps my business moving forward and allows us to invest in technology and develop new solutions for our clients, is creating an adaptable, flexible remote working environment that supports our team, including reduced hours on summer Fridays! In the last year alone, we added nearly 30 new people from various geographic areas. They love to work from home, and we love access to a larger talent pool that can further drive innovation!
Research shows that flexible work is popular, with 80 million Americans engaging in it. Many want to work remotely for much of the week when given a choice. (Report: Americans are embracing flexible work and they want more of it – McKinsey & Co. Spring 2022)
Plus, it’s good for the environment. As our clients are innovating and launching exciting new electric vehicles, we want to do our part too! A recent evaluation of our business’s sustainability data shows our company has a carbon footprint half the size of similarly sized companies, partially due to our approach to remote work. And to reduce it further for Earth Day, April 22, we donated to the National Forest Foundation – planting 1,000 trees, one for every flight our team took last year!
Why do we equate the physical size of a business with success and strength? Pre-pandemic, despite the advent of numerous digital working tools, growing companies still prided themselves on their physical footprint, displaying expansive office space and opulent conference rooms to prospective customers as an indicator that they had somehow “made it.”
And I’m finding there is still pressure to revert to these methods when courting new clients. However, here’s something interesting. When we let our employees work remotely, something amazing happened. Our responsiveness, collaboration, happiness, and productivity skyrocketed. We even came up with new client offerings like our latest creation, Digital Deal Jacket, which makes car-buying easier by cutting down the time it takes to do the paperwork in dealerships. So, even though we could all go back to working together in one office, and have meetings there when we want to collaborate, I’ve decided to keep our physical footprint small and nimble because it works so well for us.
Looking ahead, I believe there has never been a more significant opportunity to break down the traditional barriers that have prevented our sector from finally winning the long-standing war for talent. I feel now is the time for our industry to embrace the endless opportunities for business growth, sustainability, employee collaboration and client satisfaction presented by the many technologies that support remote work.
By Stacey Coopes, Founder and CEO, Unite Digital, LLC
Stacey Coopes, Founder and CEO of Unite Digital, is a digital retailing expert with deep expertise in leveraging digital media, consumer experience, data and technology to build new business solutions and revenue streams. She has more than 25 years of combined automotive and digital experience.