By KIMBERLEY HAAS
United Wholesale Mortgage turned heads in the industry last week when it was reported that health officials are investigating the company after receiving complaints about how they are handling COVID, which lead some people to ask why employees in lending are expected to be in their offices to begin with.
Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration Director Bart Pickelman confirmed to The Mortgage Note Wednesday that his agency has received 50 complaints against UWM since November 1, 2021.
“MIOSHA currently has one open investigation and other investigations that are currently progressing through the appeals process. MIOSHA cannot provide information on an open investigation,” Pickelman said.
A former employee told Fox 2 in Detroit that people who work at the Pontiac campus want to work remotely, want sick colleagues to prove they are no longer contagious before returning to work, and for mask-wearing to be enforced.
A photo of a large company holiday party was provided to the television station.
The television station used a clip from a previous interview with UVM CEO Mat Ishbia where he said people don’t want to sit at home in pajamas and a button-up shirt long-term.
“And if you are one of those people — that’s just not a great fit for us — and that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. We just know who we want, to be part of our family,” Ishbia said at the time.
UVM has about 9,000 employees and according to their website, they are hiring.
The balance between bringing employees back to work in-person versus maintaining a remote environment as COVID continues to spread throughout the country is a tricky one in every industry, including financial services.
Holly Rockwood is Vice President and Senior Communications Advisor for Wells Fargo Corporate Communications in San Francisco, California. They are a multinational financial services company with offices throughout the United States.
Rockwood said thousands of employees have worked in person throughout the pandemic.
“Close to 100,000 employees have been coming into a Wells Fargo location throughout the pandemic due to the nature of their roles, including branch employees and some employees from our contact centers, operations, and client-facing businesses,” Rockwood said.
Rockwood said given the current environment, they are adjusting their return to office plans.
“We are continuing to closely monitor the situation with the health and well-being of our employees as our priority, and as we always have. We look forward to fully returning our teams back to the office and will communicate our plans in the near future,” Rockwood said.
Employees may not want to return back to their offices after learning how to work remotely, and that trend is likely to continue past the pandemic.
Densely populated areas of the United States are losing residents as people move to the suburbs to escape city life. A new study from United Van Lines found Americans moved to lower-density areas to be closer to their families in 2021.
FlexJobs, a subscription service for job seekers who are looking for remote and flexible jobs, conducted a survey of more than 2,100 people who worked remotely during the pandemic and found that 58% of workers said they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they cannot continue remote work in their current role.
65% of respondents said they want to remain full-time remote workers after the pandemic. 33% prefer a hybrid work arrangement. Only 2% said they wanted to return to the office full-time, according to the survey, which was conducted between March and April of 2021.
A search on Indeed.com for “virtual lending” pulls up numerous remote options for potential employees.
So if United Wholesale Mortgage employees want to work remotely, they are not alone, and many companies would be willing to hire them.
This isn’t the first time the company has come under fire for its handling of COVID. In the summer of 2020, the Oakland County Health Division in Michigan issued an emergency order after over 50 confirmed cases of COVID were reported among workers at the United Shore Financial Services headquarters in Pontiac, an address it shares with UVM, according to housingwire.com.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 834,077 Americans have died of COVID since the start of the pandemic.