Virginia companies weigh office returns
Many companies in Virginia are taking a flexible approach on whether employees must return to work in offices or continue working remotely or via hybrid models.
For instance, Capital One Financial Corp., the McLean-based credit card company, is planning to reopen its U.S. offices in a hybrid model on Sept. 6. Capital One delayed its initial call to return to the office in September 2021 because of the delta and (later) omicron variants of coronavirus causing spikes in infection rates.
Company spokeswoman Stacy Jones says the post-Labor Day date was intentionally chosen “in order to provide ample time for associates to plan and prepare for their transition to our hybrid model. “
In a statement, the company says, “For associates who are ready to return to in-person work sooner, Capital One offices are open on a voluntary basis. We will continue to closely monitor the health environment and state of COVID in its communities. If health conditions do not support a safe reopening, adaptations may be made to reopening plans.”
Travel insurance company Allianz Partners has about 550 employees in Henrico County, working remotely and in a hybrid model. Its office is open weekdays, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are designated as common days, when fully vaccinated employees are encouraged to come to the office to collaborate and meet in person.
“Our new model will be hybrid, where teams may have colleagues both onsite and remote (local or otherwise). Given the global nature of our company, we also work increasingly with colleagues from other countries,” the company says.
Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc., which is building its multibillion-dollar HQ2 East Coast headquarters in Arlington, also has indicated its plans to maintain a flexible hybrid office environment going forward. It had initially stated it would return workers to hybrid schedules in January, but that was delayed due to omicron spikes.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in an October 2021 note to employees that the company is going to be “experimenting and learning” about what approach works best, adding that there is no “one-size-fits-all policy.”
Jassy said, “For our corporate roles, instead of specifying that people work a baseline of three days a week in the office, we’re going to leave this decision up to individual teams. We expect that there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office. “
Virginia-based insurance company Genworth Financial Inc., which has offices in Henrico and Lynchburg, reopened its Virginia offices for hybrid work on April 4.
The majority of the company’s employees have the flexibility to work from the office or home on whatever schedule best suits their needs, says company spokeswoman Amy Rein.
Few of the company’s employees have returned to work at an office full time. In Richmond, only about 5% are working from the office two or three days a week, with about 15% coming in occasionally, Rein says. In Lynchburg, about 7% of employees work from the office two or three days a week.
“We do not expect our hybrid work approach to change for the foreseeable future as we consider not only the continued effects of the pandemic, but also employment and economic trends,” Rein says.
Henrico County-based Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Big Tobacco company Philip Morris USA, has adopted a flexible work policy that enables its office staff to work remotely or in the office whenever needed.
“I would say that, so far, the opportunities vastly outweigh any concerns that we have had,” says Michelle Cutter, Altria’s vice president for talent management.
“We are also seeing that we have more and better access to remote [job] candidates,” Cutter says, adding that Altria has seen no significant uptick in turnover during the pandemic.
Altria has not closed or consolidated any of its office space. The company is maintaining its corporate headquarters office in Henrico County along with its downtown Richmond research and development center.
“We want to make sure we have a footprint that allows for true flexibility,” says Cutter.