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Global company trying new things to keep workers happy post-pandemic

The company said they were looking at flexible work options before COVID-19 and said this last year accelerated those programs.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A global company headquartered in Charlotte is working on a pilot program as they figure out how to bring employees back to the office -- or not.

Sealed Air is testing out a few different new models after HR folks there said they learned a lot during the pandemic about how to keep employees happy.

Olivia McMillan is part of the new product development team at Sealed Air where they make bubble wrap. That means she can’t completely work from home, even during a pandemic.

But most of her coworkers have been.

"It's definitely been different, it's a lot quieter, a lot more spaced out," McMillian said. 

The global company’s headquarters are in Charlotte and of the 900 employees based in the Queen City, when they “come back” to the office, 800 will have a flexible work schedule and 100 plan to continue to work fully remotely.

Susan Edwards is the VP of human resources and said they were looking at flexible work options before COVID-19 and said this last year accelerated those programs.

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"I can't imagine us ever going back to the way we worked before the pandemic. It really did help us prove out any apprehensions we might have had and honestly, it worked- our employees were productive, engaged invested in making it work," Edwards said.

Going forward they’ll offer Mondays and Fridays as work from home days with Tuesday through Thursday optional depending on your role and your manager. And they’re piloting a program in Charlotte where people will call in to reserve a workspace. The company is also focused on growing its wellness programs.

"To make sure in this new way of working our employees are able to focus on work, and we can keep stress levels at lowest we can because it works for everyone," Edwards said. 

With at least 100 workers planning to be fully remote, Edwards admitted a handful may decide to move from Charlotte but she said most will stay put and just want to enjoy the flexibility.

"It's allowed me to have a better work-life balance. To be honest, I take advantage of my commute time and do some household chores in the mornings or get in some exercise," Hillary Crawford said. 

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"People will be productive. They want to contribute and actually, this facilitates that in a very positive way," Edwards added. 

Sealed Air moved its global headquarters to Charlotte back in 2015 relocating more than 600 families to the area.

When they relocated here the company took advantage of a handful of different tax incentive programs based on their footprint in Charlotte. With that potentially changing as some workers choose to do so remotely, we asked about the status of those incentives.

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Pam Davis, the Global Communications & Community Engagement with Sealed Air told WCNC: 

There are multiple components in the requirements of state and local incentives including investments in things such as land, buildings, infrastructure, and jobs. To date, Sealed Air has met or exceeded its tax base requirements and its obligation to bring high-quality jobs to Charlotte and North Carolina. For example, we are currently exceeding the average compensation obligation of $109,000 per position, a status we will maintain.

When it comes to our Charlotte office post-COVID, as we mentioned, the employee numbers at our headquarters are not expected to change – just the way in which our people choose to divide their time between the office and working from home in the Charlotte-area.

In 2017, Sealed Air did divest a portion of its business (called Diversey). This caused Sealed Air’s employee headcount to drop slightly, but since that time we have maintained a strong workforce of 1,200 in North Carolina (900 employees in Charlotte) and continue to grow.

We take our obligations to these incentives seriously and serve as a strong corporate partner in the city of Charlotte. In 2022, we will report our progress toward One NC requirements.

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The Sealed Air campus in Charlotte continues to be the global corporate headquarters for the business, and also one of the primary centers for critical innovation work supporting customers and industries worldwide.

Since moving its global headquarters to Charlotte, Sealed Air has relocated more than 600 families to the area and invested $120 million to build a state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable corporate campus. The company has donated more than $1 million to local charitable organizations and North Carolina-based colleges and universities and remains committed to making an impact in the Charlotte community and strengthening the local economy.

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.