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I’ll never forget the words our founder spoke to me the day my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“Go be with your family, Kate. Nothing else matters right now. We’ll make it work.”

He meant every word.

I went part-time to care for her; he continued to pay me a full-time salary. He bought me a laptop so that I could work remotely from Texas where she was receiving treatment. He closed the entire office the day of her funeral so that he—as well as my colleagues—could attend.

I was forever grateful and worked that much harder to prove it.

I’ll never forget his response the day I told him I was going to be a mother myself. And the day I requested cutting back to 3-days-a-week to spend more time with my baby.

And his response when I asked if I could work a 7am-3pm schedule so that I could pick up both of my kids from school?

Yep. You guessed it.

That was 14 years ago. There were no video conferencing technologies, “flex schedule” trends, or work from home setups due to a global pandemic.

I was fortunate to work for an agency that supported my dreams to build an exciting, fulfilling career, while also giving me the opportunity to spend important time with my loved ones and prioritize what mattered to me.

Which stands true to our philosophy at Stoltz today.

As I look forward to returning to our beautiful downtown office this summer, I am delighted to be leaving my basement hideaway. As a creative extrovert, the idea of collaborating in-person with my colleagues and clients makes me very, very happy. (Ok, that’s an understatement. I will be using immense willpower to avoid hugging all who cross my path).

In preparation for returning to our office space, I have also been reading a lot of articles about what the “new normal” will look like. Leaders are realizing that when you put the right communication technologies in place—and trust your employees—productivity will not suffer from flex or remote work situations. In fact, our agency grew over 25% this past year!

While flexible schedules and remote work might not work in all industries, in marketing, I firmly believe there should never be a time when you have to say “no” to taking a parent to a doctor’s appointment, attending a child’s school performance, traveling to a cousin’s wedding in Italy, or getting your beard trimmed (yes, that is a thing nowadays). And when life throws curveballs, being open-minded to a flexible employment situation might be the key to loyalty, employee productivity, and overall happiness.

Moving forward, we are committing to a hybrid approach with the following strategy:

1. Clarity is key. Over-communicate and put policies in writing.

2. Never leave your team (or client) hanging.

3. Use a heads-up approach—put guidelines in place about scheduling remote work ahead of time and encourage respect for all calendars.

4. Be sure that proper tech is in place for remote connection and access.

5. Model by example.

6. Hire great people.

I am fortunate to be a part of a leadership team who is working hard to formalize a work/life balance in our company culture. Although 100% remote work is not the right fit for our agency, we recently implemented work-from-home Fridays and created a 4-week per year remote work policy. Not to mention a new 12-week parental leave policy for any parent regardless of who carried the child—pretty progressive for a company of less than 20 employees.

When you support life both in- and outside of office walls, we have seen that magic happens when people have the best of both worlds.

We’ll make it work.

We always have.

Kate Holgate – May 2, 2021