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The Future of Work: It’s All About Flexibility

Quicken Loans CEO discusses the new workplace landscape at Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2021 State of the Region Event


Are you graduating from college this year and hope to soon enter the workforce? Are you thinking about launching a job search as the country’s vaccination efforts and economic recovery continues? Or, are you simply wondering if your work and home lives will again be transformed this year?

Either way, the future of remote work is a hot topic being discussed as many eagerly await the return to our pre-pandemic way of life.

In late February, Rebecca Jarvis, chief business, economics, and technology correspondent at ABC News’ interviewed Jay Farner, chief executive officer of Quicken Loans, during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2021 State of the Region. Jarvis delved into Farner’s insights on the future of remote work and what it will mean for Detroit’s success and those living and/or working in the city.

Remote work is ‘all about flexibility’

People with the ability to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic can expect to continue to do, said Farner who is top boss to at least 17,000 employees, commonly referred to as “team members,” in downtown Detroit.

Throughout his conversation with Jarvis, Farner often spoke of “flexibility” and how its very meaning has transformed our work and home lives, allowing us for the first time to blend home life, personal obligations, and self-care with work priorities.

“It’s more about that flexibility to say, ‘Hey, for the first half of the morning, I’m going to work from home, then I’m going to get out and maybe walk to a café and work for the next two hours, then I might go over to my friends place for the next three hours,” described Farner.

The Quicken Loans CEO said the flexibility workers have experienced over the last year will continue. “And if you’re somebody saying, ‘No, you have to be in the office every minute of the day’ – that’s going to be a struggle.”


Why Detroit is positioned for success in post-COVID era

In Farner’s mind, the future of remote work and continued flexibility will translate to economic and talent success for Detroit, more than some other cities, as we move to the post-COVID era.

During their discussion, Jarvis posted this question to the CEO: “Where do you see Detroit in the grand makeup of technology and drawing some of that Silicon Valley talent, especially in a moment where people can work really from anywhere?”

Farner’s reply: “I think Detroit and cities like it will benefit for two reasons: The cost of living and the quality of life in an area like Detroit in many cases is far better than other locations.”

Farner also pointed to Detroit’s expansive talent pool thanks to colleges such as University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University, and nearby Ohio. “We’ve got a great talent base here and flexibility – I think it means students don’t have to run to the coast for a job,” said Farner. He continued to say, “That’s really good news for a city like Detroit, especially with all the investment we’ve been making for the last 10 years.”

Empowering Remote Work in Early 2020

Farner also emphasized that companies should now expect to invest seriously in technology to empower a remote workforce. In fact, Quicken Loans, the largest mortgage lender in the country known for its paperless transactions invested majorly in technology before COVID-19 shut down public life in early 2020.

“In January, we were discussing what will it take to outfit all team members with a full work from home setup,” said Farner. “That allowed everyone to go home. In a matter of 48 hours, we had everyone plugged in by early March as we continued to move our business forward.”

Farner added, “The technology that was okay 12 months ago in a conference room is not going to cut it anymore.”

What Will Remote Work Look Like Post-COVID?

Quicken Loans will continue to cultivate its good culture as remote work continues post-COVID said Farner. But what will that look like for team members?

Again, Farner pointed to flexibility, saying Quicken Loans’ team members can expect to split their time between being in the office and at home.

The CEO clarified, “What we do in the office – team building, collaboration, focusing on the longer-term strategies, and then giving people the flexibility to do day-to-day work while they’re at home. That flexibility we’re seeing, I don’t think that’s going away.”

Written by Let’s Detroit Alicia McClendon 

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