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As boards weigh operational decisions on long-term remote working and returning staff to company facilities when the pandemic subsides, the impact of workforce transitions on the business model and corporate culture is weighing on directors’ minds, Agenda’s latest quarterly directors’ and officers’ outlook survey shows.

Although at this point it is commonplace to have frequent—even weekly or daily—phone calls regarding COVID-19 updates at the board level, both specific committees and full boards are diving deeper into strategic workplace considerations as the landscape evolves.

“Every company is in a different place, but every board member is interested in what the new work strategy looks like,” says Melissa Means, managing director at compensation consulting firm Pearl Meyer’s Boston office.

“It’s certainly a fuzzy crystal ball trying to come up with what approach to take going forward, what policies do we need, what kind of technology do we need in support of that, and how does that apply to the different departments and groups we have around the country and the globe.”

Means says in her experience, the full board is active in these conversations, but compensation committees with expanded charters focused on human capital along with compensation have their hands in deeper. For example, many comp committee discussions are currently focused on employee health, safety, and diversity.

Means says long-term remote working requires highly active leaders “constantly communicating to connect with people, even if there’s nothing concrete or important to communicate about.” Boards, tasked with CEO evaluations, need to ensure leaders are staying connected to employees in as many ways as possible.

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