In this year’s special report, a variety of firms provided insights into the steps they took to maintain a healthy culture as work shifted from the office into homes during 2020 because of the pandemic. But as more businesses reopen, firms say they recognize the value of in-person collaboration as well as employees’ desire for more flexibility. Many are crafting policies to reflect a hybrid approach.
Take Satori Capital LLC, for example. Ranked No. 3 among employers with between 20 to 49 employees, Satori has been recognized every year as a Best Place since 2015. Sunny Vanderbeck, Dallas-based co-founder and managing partner, said in response to the pandemic, the firm “immediately and indefinitely converted our already flexible work-from-home policy into a work-from-home mandate,” and provided team members with the equipment they needed for a home office.
He added that the firm still holds the “majority of team meetings with an online format included so that those who choose to work from home can participate in everything we do. Our offices are open now for all who want to work in-person, but we will be continuing with a hybrid model indefinitely to offer flexibility to our team.”
As always, firms also took steps to help employees engage with their colleagues, have fun and blow off steam. A variety of programs pivoted to online, including yoga classes, holiday and cocktail parties, trivia games and employee recognition events.
Hamilton Lane, a 10-year winner in the program, sent every employee a box filled with wine and cheese for three regional virtual tasting parties curated by on-screen wine and cheese experts near the end of 2020.
“You could see everyone on screen and it went a long way to bring and keep people together,” said CEO Mario Giannini, Conshohocken, Pa., stressing that “we cannot underestimate the value to the company of being together.”
Unsettling as the pandemic has been, there have been bright spots.
Michael Arougheti, New York-based CEO, president and co-founder of Ares Management Corp., a newcomer this year to the Best Places list, said that Ares’ goal has been to take the best of everything learned during the pandemic without altering the firm’s established culture of collaboration, mentorship and transparency.
“Navigating the pandemic has actually helped us to solidify our culture, by, among other things, communicating more frequently, with more transparency and being more active listeners to each other,” he said.
With a global presence, Ares had about $248 billion in AUM as of June 30. It placed No. 3 among employers with between 500 to 999 U.S. employees.
To learn more about the program and register for notification when the 2022 program opens, visit https://www.bestplacestoworkmm.com.