Our Work Future: Hybrid & Flexible

A Letter to our Employees

 

Billy Gifford

Chief Executive Officer

Altria Group, Inc.

After nearly 18 months, we're seeing a gradual return to normalcy across the country and we're gearing up to fully re-open our offices at the end of summer. Thanks to all of you for keeping our business humming during this disruptive time. And a special heartfelt thank-you to those who have continued to report to work in our factories, labs and in the field throughout the pandemic. We appreciate all that you did to keep our workplaces – and each other – safe and productive.

To our Richmond-based salaried employees, we're excited to welcome you back into the Center for Research & Technology and our newly renovated Headquarters in September. Yet when we re-open our doors, we will not be going back to business-as-usual. The future of work will be hybrid and flexible.

For years, many of you wanted more flexibility in where, when and how you work. Yet it took the COVID-19 pandemic to compel us all to fully embrace flexibility. Last March our salaried workforce went from office-based to remote literally overnight. We adapted quickly to this new way of working, and despite physical distance, we came together to move our company and culture forward. These many months later, I'm proud that we're as (or more) productive, engaged and effective as before the pandemic. We've clearly demonstrated that we can deliver strong results while embracing flexibility.

This new way of working also brought us many benefits. It has helped us break down hierarchies and provided much-needed flexibility and balance during a disruptive time. It helped us focus on the most critical work before us. We found new ways to collaborate and were more intentional about building relationships and fostering inclusion. We were there for one another – not physically, but emotionally. And we were able to attract new talent and open the door for salaried employees to live and work outside of Richmond. 

As we step forward, we'll carry these lessons with us and commit to sustaining them into the future. Most salaried employees will be empowered to work when, where and how they choose, and on any given day, we'll likely have more employees working remotely than in the office.

 

The office building won't be the default setting for "where work gets done." Instead, it will be a gathering place, a collaborative space, a networking hub or a quiet retreat.

 

This new way of working will take time for all of us to figure out. It won't be a one-size-fits all approach, as individuals and teams across the company have differing desires, ways of working, and work requirements.

There will be bumps along the way and plenty of opportunities to learn and evolve through time. It's crucial that each of us commits to creating an inclusive and flexible work environment so that all our colleagues are heard – whether they're sitting in the office next door or at their kitchen table. And let me be clear: in no way will the ability to work flexibly negatively impact your performance rating or limit anyone's potential for advancement. I intend to work remotely myself on a regular basis, as I find it helpful for my own focus and productivity and because it's important that leaders set the tone and model what's possible.

I'm excited about this new era of working and how it will continue to strengthen our company and our culture.

Whether in person or virtual, you are welcome here.


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