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Red Rooster Coffee, Bayer Prioritize Childcare, Cut Bureaucracy

At long last, some companies are realizing that insightful leaders need to adopt a comprehensive reinvention of work for the future.

For quite some time, I have been emphasizing two key changes. First, embracing family-friendly policies. And second, fostering innovation through a culture of trust.

The Wall Street Journal has two interesting stories about these changes. One examines how Red Rooster Coffee in rural Virginia added on-site childcare to help retain talent. The other explains how Bayer is reducing the number of bosses to flatten the organization.

Both can be pillars of your blueprint forward for longevity and success.

Hybrid Work, Remote Options Are Necessary, not a Perk

For decades, both parents in most families have worked. That can make it difficult to balance professional responsibilities with family needs.

Hybrid work supports the reinvention of work by making work from home and work from anywhere viable options.

This flexibility is crucial. Otherwise, bosses can force parents and caregivers to choose between job and family.

That’s a no-win option. You can’t take care of your family without a job. For many, without a family, there goes the motivation to work in the first place.

By requiring in-office work only when necessary, companies can demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being. This, in turn, can foster loyalty and dedication.

And if, like Tompkins Ventures, you can offer fully remote work? I say go for it. The office space real estate savings and flexibility are unparalleled.

The Rise of Family-Friendly Workplaces

But unlike Tompkins Ventures, not every company can offer work-from-anywhere options. Restaurants, warehouses, factories and retail shops need personnel on site.

That’s where Red Rooster Coffee and other companies offering subsidized childcare come in.

Harriet Torry and Esther Fung detail how forward-thinking companies are not just accommodating family needs as an afterthought. They are integrating family-friendly policies into their core operations.

Executives see bringing care closer to employees as a way to reduce high employee turnover. Insightful leaders know how expensive it is to search for and retain good workers. The WSJ quotes one worker who returned to Red Rooster, citing subsidized, on-site childcare as a key factor.

“The childcare is just huge,” Red Rooster employee Zach Wiley told the newspaper. “I don’t know what we would do without it. Our son loves it, and I never worry about him. He’s right through the next door.”

Wiley even bought a house close to his employer when he returned to the fold.

Other companies, including UPS, have experimented with offering backup childcare at its facilities. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, 32% of companies offer such optionality, up from 26% just four years ago.

Devising policies for family continuity and employee support is bucket one in my three buckets for reinventing work. Such policies are great tools for enhancing employee productivity and job satisfaction. They certainly are preferable to return-to-office mandates, even in sectors that require face-to-face interaction with customers.

When companies invest in their employees’ well-being, their employees return that loyalty.

Trust and Inspire Are Pillars of New Leadership

Moving beyond the traditional boss can help your enterprise reinvent work. Traditionally, the boss has been a supervisor. That model is becoming obsolete, replaced by the desire to trust and inspire.

This view looks at micromanaging as an abomination. Instead, hire good people. Train them well. Then put them on the right teams and let them work.

Your employees should be self-motivated experts who thrive on autonomy rather than micromanagement.

The idea of “trust and inspire” draws from principles advocated by Stephen M.R. Covey and others. The shift is philosophical and practical. When you trust employees to manage their own workflows and make decisions, they create a more dynamic and innovative workplace. This is particularly relevant in creative and tech industries, where flexibility and autonomy drive performance.

Cutting Down Bureaucracy Fosters Innovation

Bayer, the company famous for inventing aspirin, offers a compelling example of this transformation.

The Wall Street Journal reported how CEO Bill Anderson decided to “purge the bosses.” Anderson’s desire to slash bureaucratic red tape comes from the notion that bloated management can stifle innovation. 

As reported by Chip Cutter, Anderson talked to multiple employees when he took the CEO post last summer. They repeatedly complained that new product launches took years, not months. Disputes took ages to resolve. Company rules and procedures filled 1,362 pages, “longer than ‘War and Peace,’ and a lot less exciting.”

Anderson’s plan involves recruiting teams that decide on projects and work together for 90 days. Then they regroup in different teams for the next project. Thousands of self-directed teams could encourage better employee performance.

His plan aligns with the notion that trust and minimal oversight encourage employee engagement.

Maybe the plan will blow up. But, as Anderson pointed out, “We don’t have to be that good to beat the current system.” 

Implementing Trust Across the Board

I think Anderson’s working arrangements hold promise, and I’ll be eager to see how Bayer fares in the future.

This paradigm shift requires leaders to act not as overseers but as facilitators who empower their teams to excel. The move toward a trust-based culture is essential for businesses looking to adapt to the modern economic landscape. Future work environments must enable agility and quick decision-making.

How Are You Shaping the Future of Work?

The reinvention of work is not just about introducing new policies. It’s about fundamentally rethinking how you structure and conduct work models.

Embracing hybrid or remote arrangements can help with work-life balance. Adding family-friendly policies increases long-term stability. Changing corporate structures can improve company culture.

And trust and inspire can create environments where employees feel personally and professionally supported.

Navigating today’s perpetual disruptions requires the ability to adapt and innovate. Companies that equate the welfare of their employees with the importance of their bottom line will gain competitive advantage. Setting these new standards will enhance operational efficiency, build a resilient and committed workforce and create profitable growth.

I would love to hear how you are reinventing your workplace.

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