Why Human-Centered Businesses are the Future of Work


Editor’s note: The following guest post is by Marcela Sapone of Hello Alfred, a company that helps people organize their lives by providing a dedicated home manager. This post was originally published on the company blog.

Hello Alfred has always put its employees first. They’re our primary customer - not the “help.” These aren’t merely buzzy slogans; they’re the foundation of our business model.

When Hello Alfred started in 2014, we made the radical decision to hire our entire workforce as W2 employees, contrary to the industry standard of 1099 contractors. That move caught people's attention.

Last year, Labor Secretary Tom Perez invited Hello Alfred to speak at the Department of Labor’s Future of Work Symposium; this year, we returned the invite and the secretary visited our New York offices on Dec. 7.

During his visit, we we’re proud to share what we’ve learned from our experience building Hello Alfred as a human-centered business:

1. People Always Come First

Having empathy for our team has directly resulted in a high-quality experience for our members/consumers. Win, meet win.


2. Good Jobs are Good Business

Sure, there are certain costs associated with employing a W2 workforce, but the increased retention of employees has allowed us to reign in the high costs of hiring and onboarding.

3. Invest in Training

Our long-termist approach to labor: Well-trained employees create better service and, in turn, happier members who promote our company to future members. Invest in skills that will serve your employees even after their time at your company.

4. Transparency is Crucial

Honesty and candor are the best communication policies. Trust your team with the full context, so they can make the best decision on the front line.


5. Trust is a Powerful Manager

Always “over-communicate” cultural non-negotiables, but trust your team to write the rules and change the business on a daily basis. Invest in the right people, empower confidence, promote transparent communication − and trust that they will run the company.

6. Promote from Within

Promoting great people results in similarly great people developing in the organization. Our Alfred Academy promote Alfreds who hire, train and review other Alfreds, rising everyone up to the highest level through example.

7. Don’t Ignore the Local Ecosystem

Richard Branson famously draws a 100-mile circle around any of his businesses and requires them to have positive social impact on everything in this area. Adding value to local communities has helped us established a strong, positive reputation in the neighborhoods in which we operate.

Emphasizing people first is the only way we know how to do things − and we’re appreciative for like-minded leaders who see that future with us.  

Marcela Sapone is the co-founder & CEO of Hello Alfred.

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