Stamford Advocate

‘We’ve all rolled with the punches’ during the pandemic

A Q&A with Indeed’s head of HR

- By Paul Schott

STAMFORD — Indeed, one of the largest career-services firms in the world, in March 2020 became one of the first large companies based in Connecticu­t to temporaril­y close its offices in response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, it is still charting the return to its offices as its staff continue to work remotely.

Its strategy will affect more than 10,000 employees — including about 1,000 based in Stamford, with the company ranking as one of the largest employers in the city.

In an interview with Hearst Connecticu­t Media, Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s senior vice president of human resources, discussed how the company has navigated the pandemic, how it is approachin­g employee vaccinatio­ns and the long-term role of its offices.

The following are excerpts from that interview.

Q: How would you assess how the past 18 months have gone at Indeed?

Wolfe: We got through the first 12, 15 months of this and everybody thought that the summer of 2021 was going to be when we got summer back. And I think we got that for the first month or so (of summer) and then delta (variant) has really taken hold. There’s a little bit of a whiplash effect where you see light at the end of the tunnel, and then the light is taken away.

But I think all of our folks have been resilient. We’ve all rolled with the punches. I think we’ve done a lot to support our employees the best we can. We can’t solve everyone’s challenges because they’re all very different. But leaning on empathy and humanity has been something that’s helped us get through this.

Q: What is the company’s position on COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns for employees?

Wolfe: We have not mandated vaccines. It’s a personal choice, and we respect that. We’re encouragin­g our employees to consider getting vaccinated if they’re able to get vaccinated.

We had our medical adviser come on and join us for one of

our Q&As to answer questions that our employees might have about the vaccine, the delta variant, other variants. We’re doing everything we can to help educate our employees and encourage them where it makes sense and where they have the availabili­ty to get it, to consider getting vaccinated.

We have a lot of Indeedians who are parents and have children under 12. Those children don’t have a vaccine available to them right now. That’s another reason we’re being very cautious from a health-andsafety perspectiv­e.

Q: How has remote working gone, and how is the company approachin­g the return to offices? Wolfe:

There are good things (about remote working). People have realized that they can spend time with their families and get their job done. Flexibilit­y is key to that, and we’re going to embrace that as we think about how we go into our new ways of working once we see what’s going to happen with the delta variant.

Originally, we had targeted a July 1, 2021, return to office. Then we pushed it to Sept. 7, and then we pushed that date to Jan. 3, 2022, globally. Our focus is the health and safety of our employees, and we’ve been able to manage so far and hit our company objectives. We’re comfortabl­e pushing that (return) off and seeing what happens with the delta variant so we can make sure we’re bringing employees back into the safest environmen­t possible for them.

Q: How does the company view the long-term role of its offices?

Wolfe: One of our values is being data driven and we pride ourselves on that. This is a situation where there’s not a lot data. We don’t know how employees are going to use our offices. We know that it’s going to change when we go into our new way of working. We want to think about the best way to design our offices to fit that new way of working.

I think collaborat­ion will still be important. I think we’re going to see employees use offices to get work done but also for that socializin­g and human interactio­ns they were so used to.

Pre-pandemic, we had 95 percent of our population in offices. Do I

think I’m going to walk on to a floor in the Stamford, New York or Austin offices and see 200 people sitting at their desks all day long — probably not. It’s going to be different.

Q: Indeed has committed to hiring hundreds of additional employees in Connecticu­t in the coming years. How have the pandemic and remote working affected the company’s hiring? Wolfe:

Hiring has changed — not just for us, but for all of our clients.

We’re doing everything virtually right now. We have an Indeed hiring platform that’s all virtual that helps us and helps our clients continue to hire.

There was a pivot because you’ve got to take people out of the paradigm of in-person interviews into virtual ones. But we’ve made that pivot, and it’s going well for us. Our recruiting teams continue to deliver qualified teams to our hiring managers, and they continue to make decisions about hiring.

We’re growing across the globe, and Stamford is still a market where we’re growing.

 ?? Indeed / Contribute­d photo ?? Paul Wolfe is senior vice president of human resources at career-services provider Indeed, which has about 1,000 employees based in Stamford.
Indeed / Contribute­d photo Paul Wolfe is senior vice president of human resources at career-services provider Indeed, which has about 1,000 employees based in Stamford.

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