On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your work/life balance? To say that the global pandemic wreaked havoc on millions of lives is a massive understatement, but there’s one semi-good thing that it may have done. Making society, as a whole, consider the virtues of remote work and how it can contribute to our overall work/life balance is long overdue. Anyone who’s ever had a completely ridiculous commute is probably already nodding their heads in agreement.
While many businesses have been eager to get their employees back on-site, at least one major OEM is bucking that trend, and bucking it hard. Back in that fateful month of March, 2020, Harley-Davidson sent many of its employees home to work while waiting out the storm—and according to Bloomberg, it hasn’t fully opened its Milwaukee headquarters up since, as of October 17, 2022.
Are there plans to change that tactic any time soon? Apparently not. See, CEO Jochen Zeitz is a father himself, with two young kids. He has homes in both Milwaukee and the Santa Fe, New Mexico area—and he splits his time between those places. As both a busy CEO and a father, he especially came to value how flexible working remotely can be for getting things done and not sacrificing time with his family.
“Having the ability to just push a button wherever that person sits, get that person online, or create a meeting — that is not defined by which floor you sit on and who’s in the corner office. It democratizes the way we work together and allows you to bring the best talent into the company, no matter where they sit,” Zeitz told Bloomberg in an in-person interview.
Harley-Davidson is serious about the future of remote work, too. How serious? So serious that it currently has plans to repurpose its 500,000 square foot Milwaukee HQ later in 2022—in ways that it hasn’t yet made public. The space will remain an integral part of Harley-Davidson—but that’s the only concrete detail that’s been announced.
Part of this, of course, has to do with LiveWire, and the fact that to be competitive in the electric vehicle space, the company needs to attract and retain top engineering and technical talent. That’s a thing that’s much tougher to do in 2022 if you aren’t willing to be flexible about remote work.
Although in-person meetings from time to time are still a thing, the idea is to be more intentional with when and why they’re held. Zeitz also spoke of measuring employees based on what they’re able to deliver, rather than counting the hours they sit in an office—and also about how critical it is to trust your employees.
Sentiments like these are both refreshing and encouraging. While we know that words and actions don’t always align, it’s still nice to see, and we certainly hope that they do here. Generally speaking, when people take pride in their work, they want to do a good job, no matter where they may physically be located. Not feeling beaten down by an unnecessarily long commute can make a huge difference to both morale and mental acuity—and, of course, tipping the scales in favor of that elusive work/life balance.