What have you personally, and you as an institution, learned about the right way to manage remotely over the last few months?
So I can’t say that we can declare victory after 90 days, but here are the things that we’ve done in response to what we’ve learned. First of all, we gave everybody a day off. We also gave every Friday at 2 o’clock off almost immediately. We also told people to build in commute times on their calendars. So rather than starting work at 6:30 in the morning, just for mental health reasons block the time until 9:00 as your own time — do not let anything get scheduled.
We told our managers: Cut meetings from 60 minutes to 50. So people can take time, say hi to families, feed your child, take your child outside, teach your child through remote learning. You do not have to be on every call. And we deliberately built in daytime programming to prove that it was OK to take mental health breaks. We built in physical training, yoga. We have a master chef teaching people how to cook with their children. We’ve done “ask me anythings” with celebrities. And the latest thing that we’ve done is we’re giving the week before July Fourth off to everybody. What we’ve learned is people need mental breaks. Again, this is not normal. Having to work from home with family there is different, and we need to acknowledge it and deal with it.
What are your thoughts on the student debt crisis, and how companies and governments might help?
Most student take on extraordinary debt, because colleges continue to raise their prices every step of the way. And they continue to cut the support that they offer to students. Many students don’t graduate at all, and yet take on substantial debt. So we consider that to be a real challenge for this country and the next big economic crisis. We wanted to put our money where our mouth is, which is why we made a decision to pay off all of our employees’ student debt.
If corporations agreed to pay off some or all of this debt, I believe colleges would expand their curriculum to be more aligned with what companies in their local areas need as graduates. It would also tie the community and the companies and the institutions and the students all together to try to get a better education at a lower cost and lower debt in our communities.
Where are you when it comes to bringing workers back into the office? How are you going to stagger whom you bring back into the office and walk us through how you’re making those decisions?
This is an area where we don’t want to be a leader. What we said to our employees is don’t expect to come into the office until your family’s schools are reopened. We want to evaluate where there’s a rise in cases or not. We’re doing all the necessary things like social distancing in the office, masks and sanitizer, keyless and handless entry to everything, including the restrooms. So we have a lot of work being done in that area.