In the wake of bankruptcy and a pandemic, Neiman Marcus Group (NMG) is rewriting the rules of office dynamics. Fortune delves into NMG’s groundbreaking approach to work, emphasizing a shift towards remote-first without mandating office attendance.

NMG’s Corporate Evolution

After emerging from bankruptcy, Neiman Marcus Group faced a crucial decision: redefine its corporate structure or adhere to traditional norms. The leadership, led by Eric Severson, Chief People and Belonging Officer, opted for a bold transformation, drastically downsizing its corporate office space in Dallas/Fort Worth.

NMG embraced a remote-first philosophy, breaking from the conventional in-office work culture. The Dallas hub, meticulously designed to attract rather than enforce, serves as a “magnet, not a mandate.” Severson emphasizes a balance of 70% collaborative and 30% individual space, creating an environment where people gather based on their needs.

Challenging the Norm: A Unique Office Concept

Contrary to pre-pandemic norms, the Dallas hub flips the script, with no permanent desks, offering 800 people simultaneous access. Shared-use and connection spaces are abundant, promoting voluntary participation rather than obligatory presence.

Severson challenges the inertia of conventional mandates, highlighting that companies often resist change due to a lack of statistical research supporting the effectiveness of mandates. 

While the debate on productivity and work location persists, NMG’s bottom-up work-from-anywhere approach yielded a 34% improvement in employee engagement and a 31% decrease in time to hire for new roles.

Flexibility as the Driving Force

Drawing on his 32 years of experience, Severson contends that flexibility is a key attraction and retention driver, mitigating work-life stress and attrition caused by high living costs and long commutes. NMG’s flexibility initiatives have proven popular and improved engagement without sacrificing productivity.

Severson advocates for companies to set aside assumptions and embrace flexibility. He stresses the unequivocal academic research supporting flexibility’s positive impact on happiness and engagement. 

Additionally, he addresses proximity bias, emphasizing the need for equity in a work-from-anywhere concept to avoid undue attention or preference based on physical proximity to corporate hubs.

NMG’s Success Blueprint

Neiman Marcus Group’s pioneering approach challenges corporate norms, proving that a remote-first model can enhance engagement, productivity, and overall employee satisfaction. 

As many companies grapple with the future of work, NMG stands out with a unique approach, demonstrating the power of choice over mandates in the evolving landscape.

What do you think of this? Is Neiman Marcus pioneering the future of work, or treading on thin ice with its remote-first experiment?”

Will other corporate giants embrace Neiman Marcus’ ‘magnet, not mandate’ philosophy, or stick to traditional office mandates?”

Can a remote-first model truly enhance employee engagement, or is Neiman Marcus an outlier in the corporate landscape? As Neiman Marcus celebrates success, could a remote-first approach be the antidote to workplace stress and attrition?

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