Some Metro Detroit employers making remote work permanent

‘They wanted to be remote, they wanted that option’

Employees across the country want to continue working from home

DETROIT – Many employees throughout the United States who started working remotely during the pandemic want to keep it that way.

Here is a look at how employers including those in Metro Detroit are responding.

Winters in Michigan can be brutal. For Kyra Robinson going to work during the winter months was not something she enjoyed about her position as a project consultant for a Downtown Detroit company.

“The longest time is if it’s a snowstorm or slick outside,” said Robinson.

Spending 40 minutes a day on the road or longer in Michigan during the winters got old fast. She didn’t realize how old until Robinson was sent home to work during the pandemic.

Now she is sold completely and wants to stay remote.

“I’ll save money because I’m not spending anything on gas,” said Robinson.

Professor Dave Strubler, an HR and organizational leadership expert from Oakland University, said Robinson is part of a new wave of employees and how they view the physical workplace.

“It’s an employee’s market. People can leave anytime they want,” said Strubler.

He said as the pandemic drags on and more employees are able to work from home, companies are going to have to re-think what workspace really looks like. If companies want to keep talent they need to poll their talent and then act on that polling data.

Dan Ward, president of Detroit Labs, a tech company Downtown, gets it, but he gets some other things, too.

“We were still very dependent on things like whiteboards, grabbing a marker and getting up there in person. A lot of those tools only really existed in person,” said Ward.

When he polled his 160 team members the majority of them stated they want to stay remote.

Turns out he likes it a lot himself. And so his company is now a remote workplace first and foremost with one or two in-person days available and optional, but not required at all.

“They wanted to be remote, they wanted that option. They didn’t want to be forced to come back ... We wanted to make sure we are creating an environment for them where they feel comfortable, productive, where they want to be,” said Ward.

Michigan reported 9,137 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 virus-related deaths Monday -- an average of 3,045.7 cases over the past three days.

Monday’s update brings the total number of confirmed COVID cases in Michigan to 1,064,557, including 21,349 deaths. These numbers are up from 1,055,420 cases and 21,313 deaths, as of Friday.

Michigan COVID: Here’s what to know Oct. 11, 2021

About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.