Improving employee experience while working-from-home
When we can’t connect in person, how do we keep people engaged? The employee experience is key.
The pandemic has changed the way we work forever. As Head of People and Culture at Atos Australia & New Zealand, I am alert to the impacts that this change has had on the employee experience and performance in the last 18 months. The transition from in-office, face-to-face work to mandated work-from-home has accelerated the need for digital solutions to create a more functional, flexible, and collaborative approach to work whilst keeping our people engaged.
Frictionless Digital Workplace Solutions
There have been profound changes in our ways of working since the beginning of the pandemic. During these 18 last months we have learned that when employees are able to work-from-home with access to the digital tools required to carry out their jobs, they can embrace a more balanced and blended work life. A frictionless digital working environment means not having to spend hours commuting each day. It means the ability to use time effectively without getting waylaid and distracted by technical issues. It means having a user-friendly, device agnostic, secure service which drives creativity and collaboration. Meeting in video conferences and sharing files through the cloud, in real time and from anywhere, establishes a model of collaborative online work which forms a core element of the new digital workplace.
People experience matters
While employees are able to experience a more flexible and balanced work-life while working-from-home, we are aware they are missing the social interaction with their colleagues. Company culture built through social interaction is a tangible, ever-evolving part of a physical office environment. When managers have the right digital tools to keep connected with their team and to encourage social interaction, they can provide leadership and build trust. In Australia and New Zealand, we have seen this through 2020 and 2021’s virtual celebrations of team achievements, employee milestones, and awards.
Regular virtual team meetings keep workplace culture coherent, especially for new joiners who haven’t been able to work from the office yet and employees who are working within specific project teams. Virtual lunches, as well as surprise care packages delivered to each employees’ door simultaneously, have helped to maintain the sense of camaraderie that would ordinarily exist as part of working from the office. Digital communications enable social interaction and workplace cohesion, even if this takes place behind a screen.
"When managers have the right digital tools to keep connected with their team and to encourage social interaction, they can provide leadership and build trust."
Understanding mental health and wellbeing
Another lesson learned through this pandemic is that how the situation impacts each individual and their wellbeing - financial, physical, emotional - is unique. In times of disruption, we need to demonstrate leadership and to focus on the wellbeing of our people. It can make a big difference to someone's day to ask them how they are going and to actively listen to their answer. These same video-conferencing solutions that we rely upon to provide a productive and frictionless work environment enable managerial staff to check in with their teams and keep connected. We can also provide our employees with tips and tools accessible from anywhere and at any time about how to maintain mental health. At Atos, we have created a program called We Are Atos, which include Wellbeing and Life@Work support. In Australia and New Zealand, our employees and their families have access to professional counselling services via phone and video conferencing. Last year, we made a donation to Lifeline as part of our end of year celebration, and the organisation provided a training to all staff.
As a company, our ethos is that people’s wellbeing matters. Wellbeing leads to engagement, positively impacts performance, and adds value to overall outcomes for deliverables. While workplace culture has always been built through sharing the same physical space, the pandemic has forced us to be innovative and to explore how digital tools can improve employee’s experience.