How will the way we work change as we re-emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s a question we hear frequently from our candidates – and colleagues and clients. As the global situation continues to change and evolve, McKinsey will continue to put the health and safety of its people, candidates, clients and communities first, and we will provide the flexibility, autonomy and support our colleagues need to shape their paths and experiences, just as we always have. We asked Marie Christine Padberg and Blair Ciesil, our co-leads of global recruiting, for the inside scoop on McKinsey’s working models and norms going forward.
As parts of the world start to open up, what is McKinsey doing to ensure colleagues and clients stay safe?
Marie: McKinsey is committed to keeping our colleagues, clients, and communities healthy and safe. That’s our first priority. We have offices in more than 65 countries, so there is not a one-size-fits-all answer here. We have a team of experts who help our location leaders assess their specific situations and develop plans to return from remote in ways that work best for their offices, adhere to local guidelines, keep wellbeing paramount and integrate what works for our people and our clients
Blair: We recognize not everyone feels the same way about getting back to in-person work. Some colleagues are confident and eager to get back together and work in person. Others are more hesitant and cautious and may prioritize working remotely. As a firm that embraces diversity of all kinds – including opinions and personal convictions – we want to create space and provide support for our colleagues to navigate this period as they are most comfortable. We respect their personal needs.
Has McKinsey announced a date by which firm members must return to in-person work?
Blair: As Marie said, given our broad geographic footprint, we will not have a single date when all of McKinsey returns to in-person work. Many offices have started welcoming colleagues back regularly. Teams are choosing whether to work remotely or visit client sites based on local regulations and clients’ and colleagues’ needs.
Marie: What’s really exciting is to see the innovation taking place around our working model. For us, working side-by-side with our clients is core to our way of doing business – and really the most rewarding part. The past 18+ months have taught us that ‘side-by-side’ can work remotely. Plus, we have seen just how much the added flexibility has benefited our colleagues' and our clients’ well-being. Going forward, our teams will choose their working model at the start of each engagement: on-site three days a week, every-other-week, only for key meetings, or some combination of those. We’re excited to continue to find the right balance as we prioritize strong client relationships, apprenticeship of our people, and sustainable lifestyles for all of us.
In the meantime, what is the firm doing to foster connectivity?
Blair: We’ve done a lot over the last year and a half to keep our community connected and strong. In addition to tons of firm- and regional virtual townhalls and open question forums, we’ve prioritized small group, community-based connections – like virtual social events, trainings and volunteer service activities. And we’ve had fun! Remote time together is as creative as the firm itself - karaoke nights, murder mystery Zoom parties, gardening projects, pet play dates, pizza making classes, and all sorts of other get-togethers. One of my personal favorites was a virtual magician at a recent leadership meeting. I brought my kids and so did many others.
Marie: Yes, those virtual events have been key to keeping us all going throughout COVID-19. We have started doing some things together in-person where it’s safe to do so. We recently celebrated Values Day in Amsterdam with an in-person component. It was great to be with my colleagues and friends and discuss our values and how we can continue living them every day.
How is the virtual landscape impacting the recruiting process?
Marie: Our hiring is following the same hybrid approach. We’ve always had virtual elements in our process – like Solve, our digital assessment, as well as virtual interviews and events. Going forward, we expect to continue a mix of in-person and virtual. We believe this model provides our candidates with a broader, more flexible and well-rounded experience. It helps the environment, too.
What else is top of mind for you, as leaders within the firm?
Blair: One priority that sticks out for me has been mental health. McKinsey has done a ton of research to help leaders across sectors understand and foster health and wellbeing. In addition to flexible working options, McKinsey has a firmwide program called Mind Matters that launched in 2019 to provide 24/7 support and intervention in multiple languages. We have trained mental health points of contact in all 160+ locations to direct colleagues to the best available resources. All colleagues have access to CoachNow and Headspace Plus. On our teams, we’re talking about balance, setting boundaries (especially while working from home), and taking periods of recovery after hard work. It has made a huge difference and our focus on taking care of our whole self will continue and expand within McKinsey.
Marie: I am passionate about mentorship. Last year, we surveyed everyone in the firm about mentorship and sponsorship to make sure everyone in the firm has people committed to apprenticing them, creating opportunities for them, and guiding their development. We’ve been especially intentional about creating time and space for feedback and coaching since we’ve been working remotely. That’s something we’ll continue as we return to more in-person work. It all goes into how we meet one half of our mission – how we provide unrivaled development opportunities for our colleagues.
What are you looking forward to most about the future of the firm?
Blair: It may sound dramatic, but I really believe this is THE time to be at McKinsey. Our world is in an especially complicated place right now. At the same time we’re recovering from COVID-19, we’ve seen rapid tech innovation, the start of the Great Attrition, a heightened focus on environmental sustainability, and an unprecedented commitment to equity and inclusion. Our clients are coming to us for help navigating this landscape, effectively using big data, reskilling their workforce, making their businesses more carbon neutral, building a more diverse executive board – the list goes on, but these are some of the most important challenges of our time. At McKinsey, we are so lucky to help our clients tackle the world’s toughest problems.
Marie: We provide our people with unrivaled professional development. Joining us means you’ll have unparalleled opportunities to learn and grow. And you won’t tackle any of these challenges alone. We have an extremely diverse and supportive community that prioritizes apprenticeship and continuous learning. Did you know we invest more than $200M a year on learning and development for our people? Now is the best time to join McKinsey if you want to be at your best, doing work that really makes a difference. And, we’re hiring more new colleagues this year than ever before, into many open roles all over the world. Check them out and apply today.
This post is sponsored by McKinsey & Company, No. 1 in Vault's Best Consulting Firms to Work For rankings in 2021. A version of this article originally appeared on the McKinsey Blog on October 3, 2021.
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