How is Dish Getting Hybrid Work Right? 4/28

The Getting Hybrid Work Right call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders on all aspects of hybrid work. On this week's call, i4cp CEO and Co-Founder Kevin Oakes and Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone facilitated a conversation with special guest Dave Scott, EVP and CHRO of DISH Networks. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • Scott shared about the transformation that DISH Networks has undertaken, from being well known as a satellite television service provider to building out a 5G network that will compete with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in the consumer communication space while also providing B2B communication services.
  • Like many organizations, in March of 2020 DISH had many employees who needed to continue to work on-site, and so policies and procedures were quickly put in place for their safety related to COVID-19. Many other employees, such as many corporate roles, call-center employees, etc., were shifted to remote work (about 10,000 of their 15,000 employees).
    • By mid-summer of 2020, about 25% of those individuals, especially many in management, were brought back on-site to better and more quickly collaborate on the significant transformation work that DISH was undertaking.
    • By May of 2021, far earlier than most companies, all individual contributor roles except those that had been shifted to permanent remote status (e.g., call-center workers) had returned to the office workplace. They did this by being very careful and intentional with all environmental and safety considerations: social distancing/space, masking, temperature scans, meeting size restrictions, touchless services wherever possible, and more. As events further developed, adaptations were made were appropriate.  Vaccines were recommended and incentivized (via HSA matching), but not required.
    • When appropriate, e.g., during the peaks of the Delta and Omicron variants, or during high-social times like holidays, the company would shift for a while to greater hybrid or remote work approaches. Scott indicated that he has a dashboard to help track the health status of their employee base and inform decision making. Initially the dashboard was built internally, but now they are shifting to an off-the-shelf product for this.
  • The CEO and Scott as CHRO do a weekly communication video series for all employees, to update them on what is going on in the business, including covering any challenges being faced. This has helped to humanize the top leadership of the organization. They have done over 100 of these weekly communications since March of 2020.
  • Some roles at DISH Network are remaining fully remote. Two examples are the call center employees, and a large percentage of the recruiting team. In such cases, employees proved over the past two years that they can work very productively while completely remote, so there is no business reason to require them to return to an office work site.
  • Scott noted that retention has been a bigger challenge than hiring. In fact, he said they have had very little issue attracting talent and have been hiring people as well as ever. The diverse desires of employees regarding flexible and hybrid / remote work options have had more of an impact for retention with a slice of the population.
  • Scott also noted that DISH has about 100 tech developer employees located in Ukraine. Back in February of this year they very quickly facilitated a shift to remote work for those employees, and then financially supported the moving of employees out of Kharkiv to a new office in the relatively safer city of Lviv. He is proud to say that all of their team members there are accounted for, safe, and engaged in their work. What they learned from the shift to remote work from the pandemic was helpful during this time, and has been in other contexts as well.
  • Scott closed with advice for everyone on the call: provide as much support as possible for all of your HRBPs and HR generalists, because they are being pulled more than ever, facing high levels of burnout, and are critical to providing all HR services during the most critical times.

Links to i4cp resources shared on the call: