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Window into Wipfli

Embracing a remote community: Wipfli's journey toward inclusive growth

By Maureen Pistone

At Wipfli, we recognize the transformative power of a remote working culture, and I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing and nurturing the journey from hybrid work to creating an engaged and robust remote community.

Even before the pandemic, we were no strangers to a hybrid working environment, but the pandemic's onset required a shift in how we thought about it: We couldn’t just make it work; we needed to harness the benefits of remote work and build a culture to support remote workers.

We had to reimagine work. We drafted guiding principles that now form the backbone of our remote work culture.

From those principles, embracing remote work became a journey of leadership discussions, dialogue with associates and learning how to connect differently.

For example, recognizing the unique challenges faced by those not near an office, we launched a community just for remote workers that focuses on inclusion and accessibility and provides those who live distantly from any Wipfli office a chance to come together to network, connect, learn and share.

We also are shifting how we coach leaders and performance coaches to redefine how our interactions look and feel, including focusing on having meaningful connections with purposeful “in-person” meetings on camera or truly meeting in person.

Listening and learning became key. We received feedback about needs for social connection, learning and engagement, which helped us shape special offerings tailored to our remote and distant team members, such as taking a deep dive into Wipfli’s well-being platform Virgin Pulse, holding a virtual debrief and lunch with senior leaders following our annual business meeting, and offering an opportunity to learn from one of our remote associates who did her dissertation on the impacts of remote work and well-being.

We established a Teams channel just for remote associates so they can connect informally, get specialized information and be connected as a team. We see that sense of team growing and expanding into in-person events, such as planning volunteer activities in their common areas.

Today our group of roughly 300 remote/distant employees is thriving.

We know this because our most recent associate engagement survey showed a highly engaged remote community.  Our recent engagement survey shows our distantly remote associates are just as engaged or more when considering the drivers of engagement. These associates indicated a 77% favorability rating in our latest survey, meaning 77% of all indicators were answered with a top box choice.

And the benefits of remote work aren’t just for associates who already work for Wipfli.

Our commitment to flexibility, well-being and performance fostered a more inclusive environment and has given us broader access to talent and expanded our recruiting pool.

We're actively dispelling myths about remote work, turning disconnect into respect and redefining what it means to be a part of a team — a testament to our proactive approach.

As we look ahead, our hopes are ambitious: We envision a workspace without disadvantages for remote employees, negating proximity bias and continued development of coaches and leaders around providing a Wipfli experience that meets individuals where they are at. A place where the office is a magnet, not a mandate, allowing a blend of in-person and virtual experiences.

The path ahead is full of promise, and I am confident our collective effort will continue to forge a workplace where everyone feels included, engaged and positioned for success.

Maureen Pistone

Maureen Pistone
Principal, Chief Human Resources Officer

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