Remote working likely to remain post-coronavirus: Quicken exec

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Quicken Loans is quite likely to have a higher percentage of its staff working remotely on a permanent basis as a lasting impact of the pandemic, Vice Chairman Bill Emerson told a Mortgage Bankers Association teleconference on Monday.

"Obviously culture is critical to us and we believe that interacting with everybody else in the organization is key to that culture," he said. "But we've been able to communicate and stay plugged in and stay connected [with remote workers]."

“And the culture scores actually are equal or little bit higher than they were when we started doing this before the pandemic," he said, referring to an internal employee survey.

Only 200 of Quicken's nearly 18,000 employees are working in its offices right now. Once it is safe to return to work, those who want to, will be able to, Emerson said.

"A lot of people absolutely want to get out of their homes, they want to get back into the office. So when we're able to do that, let's make them the first folks, they want to come in anyway," he said. "We're learning from other businesses what that means to come back into the office space."

Off-site work will likely increase at Eagle Home Mortgage as well, said its president, Laura Escobar, who was also on the MBA's panel. What's important, she said, is to "find that balance of work remote versus in the office."

Eagle, which is a subsidiary of homebuilder Lennar, surveyed its employees and found that both engagement and employee happiness has increased significantly since remote work started. The majority of those surveyed said they enjoy working from home and that they feel more productive.

But working from home can easily lead to too much screen time. Over at Quicken, scheduled rest and relaxation days are mandatory for the entire staff.

"You've got to keep an eye on your team member and make sure they're not working too much because it's very easy with nowhere else to go just to sit in front of the computer all day long and do your work," Emerson said.

But its employees getting too comfortable with the current situation is another worry for Emerson and the Quicken leadership team.

"But the more you start to settle into something, the more the opportunity comes for complacency to move back in," he said.

"It's always a leadership challenge to make sure you're driving your team forward, that you're taking the feedback and developing programs and plans that keep them engaged, that keep them focused on the consumer while we as an organization focus on them and their health," Emerson said. "And if we can do those two things, then I think we'll continue to accomplish great, great things."

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