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H&R Block's CEO and HR chief explain how the company decided it's not fully equipped for remote workand why they expect staff in the office 3 days a week

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 31 Mar 2021


<p><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/605a0abf106eb50019d051bb-1500/Jeff Jones Headshot use.jpg" border="0" alt="Jeff Jones Headshot use" data-mce-source="H&amp;R Block" data-mce-caption="Jeff Jones, president and CEO of H&amp;R Block"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>In September, H&amp;R Block, one of the largest tax-prep firms in the US, will become a <a href="https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/newsroom/around-block/about-us/flexible-working-company/">hybrid workplace</a>. Corporate staff will be expected to come into the office Tuesday through Thursday. On Monday and Friday, they can work wherever they'd like.</p><p>CEO and president Jeff Jones, who joined the company three years ago, told Insider this was "one of the hardest decisions I've had to make." H&amp;R Block management is most worried about the dilution of their strong company culture when employees are in the office just three days a weeka concern that <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/remote-work-hybrid-risks-opportunities-zillow-slack-leadership-hr-talent-2021-2">other employers share</a>.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-build-an-inclusive-hybrid-workplace-2021-2">hybrid workplace</a> is something of a new trend. Many knowledge workers haven't been to their offices since March 2020. Now, as more people get vaccinated and an end to the pandemic appears to be in sight, businesses are thinking about how best to reopen their offices. Employers including <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/14/technology/google-delays-return-to-office-and-eyes-flexible-work-week.html'auth=login-email&amp;login=email">Google</a>, <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/17/ford-launching-flexible-wfh-plan-as-employees-return-this-summer.html">Ford</a>, <a href="https://therealdeal.com/national/2021/03/12/target-moves-to-hybrid-work-from-home-model-for-corporate-office/">Target</a>, and <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/hybrid-work-models-could-hurt-remote-workers-zillow-ceo-warns-2021-2">Zillow</a> have announced different iterations of the hybrid work model.</p><p>Here's how H&amp;R Block is navigating the process.</p><h2>A hybrid work model can help companies attract and retain talent</h2><p>Most employees would prefer some flexibility around when and where they work. Workplace technology firm <a href="https://envoy.com/blog/envoy-survey-finds-employees-want-companies-to-embrace-hybrid-work-and-mandate-covid-vaccines/">Envoy surveyed</a> 1,000 full- and part-time US workers and found that 48% said they'd prefer a mix of working remotely and in the office.</p><p>Which means that flexible work policies are a way for employers to maintain their edge in the talent market. Envoy found that 47% of workers said they would quit if their employer didn't offer <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/workers-want-hybrid-model-to-see-work-friends-survey-finds-2021-3">an option to work flexibly</a> after the pandemic.</p><p>From there, employers need to figure out the parameters around flexible work: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-ibm-hr-chief-decides-which-employees-can-work-remotely-2021-2">Which jobs</a> can reasonably be done from home' Are there certain days in which all staff is required in the office' And with that: What are the implications for organizational culture and <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/hybrid-work-week-good-for-some-workers-bad-for-inequality-2021-2">individual career development</a> if some employees come into the office more than others'</p><h2>H&amp;R Block is staying vigilant to make sure the hybrid work model is effective</h2><p>Before the pandemic, H&amp;R Block was a relatively flexible workplace, said chief people officer Tiffany Monroe. If an employee needed to work from home one day for personal reasons, that was ok. But the company valued "being connected and being connected in person," Monroe said, so remote work wasn't the norm.</p><p>During the pandemic, most of the nearly 2,000 employees at H&amp;R Block's corporate headquarters in Kansas City have been <a href="https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/newsroom/around-block/about-us/flexible-working-company/">working from home</a>. (The company's seasonal workers, who work in stores and prepare taxes, have some flexibility as well, but the hybrid work model doesn't apply to them.)</p><p>When leadership started thinking about returning to the office, the HR team surveyed employees to suss out how staff were feeling. And 90% of respondents said they wanted some flexibility around where they worked.</p><p>Monroe said leadership considered a range of options, from being fully in-office to fully remote. Ultimately, executives decided that H&amp;R Block "while we are remote friendly, we are not remote first."</p><p>The company is staying flexible in case the hybrid workplace isn't effective. HR will continue to send out employee surveys. But Monroe feels relieved to have a plan in place. "Just getting into a schedule that we know is our go-forward plan will be a really nice thing to have," she said. "Just getting yourself into more of a routine on how is your day going to work and how is your week going to work."</p><p>Jones, the CEO, said leadership is staying vigilant. "We have to be prepared," he said, "to change if this doesn't work."</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-hr-block-ceo-decided-on-a-hybrid-work-model-2021-3#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-do-your-own-taxes-for-the-very-first-time-2018-2">July 15 is Tax Dayhere's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time</a></p>
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