Cable One CEO Has High Hopes for the Post-Pandemic Workplace

If the only constant in life is change, Julie Laulis is in the right business.

The president, CEO and chair of the board at Cable One, Laulis has watched the company’s strategic picture widen from linear TV to include broadband, voice and streaming video services. In a recent 4Front podcast episode, she talked about how change is a good thing and how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way Cable One does business.

Laulis’s career at Cable One began in 1999, when she was named director of marketing for the company’s northwest division. From there, she served as a division vice president of operations, chief operating officer and finally as president and CEO beginning in 2017. In 2018, she was named chair of the company’s board of directors.

Along the way, Laulis has learned the importance of confidence and authenticity—even if it has meant bucking the tradition of the buttoned-up executive. Business leaders often think they have to act and look a certain way. “I was like, no, that probably won’t work out well for me,” Laulis said. “I tend to be a pretty informal, casual person, and it’s best if I show up that way.”

She also likes to walk the floors every Friday at Cable One’s headquarters and talk face-to-face with employees but doing so has been a challenge during the pandemic, when many people are working from home. The company has turned to teleconferencing, “but it’s just not the same,” she said.

Cable One will probably stick with work-from-home options. However, Laulis said, “Lately I’ve been moving to the thought that people just need to be together. That doesn’t mean it has to happen every day, and it doesn’t even have to be once a week. But on some regular cadence, in order to get that true collaboration and innovation to connect as human beings, to have an understanding about each other and to keep our culture alive—which is Cable One’s secret sauce—we’re going to have to be together.”

The idea of a hybrid workplace mixing home and office time is gaining traction. According to a recent survey conducted by Edelman Data & Intelligence for Microsoft, 66 percent of management leaders say their company is considering redesigned workspaces to accommodate a hybrid work schedule. Among employees, 73 percent said they wanted flexible, remote work options to stay, but at the same time 67 percent said they wanted more in-person work or collaboration post-pandemic.

For her part, Laulis predicted that “when people come together, it will be for the purpose of learning from each other and doing important, collaborative work, versus sitting down and doing busy work. I’m excited to springboard out of this darned pandemic and make sure that we don’t lose sight of the things that we learned from it. We need to capitalize on these lessons and see how far we can go.”

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