Key takeaways from an interview discussing one Fortune100 company's experience of lockdowns and their plans for the future, providing insights into how they pivoted as an organisation to meet the needs of their employees, their plans for the future and the tools and processes they are leveraging to progress.
What was your initial response to the pandemic, and expectations for the months to come?
When the pandemic first rolled out I don't think any of us had any idea what we were about to embark on, but we are a very methodical company and have a resistance team of people whose job it is to prepare for major risks, so we had a 2 week pilot of remote work before it was mandated. This was used to prepare our IT team for the technology influx that was about to occur.
How did you ensure employees were kept updated throughout lockdowns?
We have an internal communications team that did a very robust FAQ document that was updated every day, it helped us to keep aligned in terms of what to expect
What steps did you take to keep essential workers safe?
We took steps to ensure the provision of fresh air, increasing our cleaning protocols and took advantage of everything that was offered for environmental services, space planning and design to spread people out to the extent that we could.
How important will employee safety be moving forwards?
The number one response in our survey regarding return to work priorities was employee safety, 80% chose it. So it’s a really concerning topic in order to make our office a place where you want to come in, and come in to collaborate.
How did you support workers working from home?
We offered extra training, as using technology that some really weren’t familiar with was very fatiguing mentally for some. We also loaned out a tremendous amount of ergonomic equipment for home use, which we delivered with our own company trucks.
Where are you currently in your return to work plans?
We’ve only had 150-200 people come back on a voluntary basis as a proof on concept so we can start to figure out where our gaps are, and what trends are in behaviour when people can access spaces on their own terms; we’re seeing Tuesday and Wednesdays trend very highly, but on other days it’s much lower.
What does your future workplace look like?
It has just been announced that we’re moving to a hybrid workforce. We’ll have three work-style statuses:
The in-office workers who come in 5 days a week by preference or job delineation
The hybrid workers who will be free to decide with their managers what works best for them
And the last category will be those who are full-time remote
What does introducing hybrid working mean for you in the space & design team?
Data is going to drive almost everything for us, whether that’s qualitative or quantitative. We are a client of OpenSensors and actively use sensor data to see how people in our proof of concept are using the space, and whether they’re using the spaces correctly.
We have two different types of work area; traditional assigned cubicle seating and then we have the neighbourhood, which is a large area that has multiple varying workstations, which makes up 20% of our campus. It’s all unassigned so we need data so that we can cross reference occupancy data against card swipe data to ensure we’re providing the right spaces.
How will you ensure employee expectations are met?
We’ve done a huge amount of employee engagement surveying to understand where our pain points are, and our HR team and employee experience committee takes that feedback into account, in terms of what attracts people and retains them.
How do you see this data being leveraged in the future?
We have to figure out with our data whether our re-entry plans are working, and if people are taking advantage of what we’re offering them, and whether or not we are using our real estate effectively.
It all contributes into the discussion of why do we have 5 or 6 buildings open on campus if we can compress. So we’re trying to use data to not only satisfy the employee expectations but also to substantiate the cost in running these buildings or operating costs.
There’s levels to which this data can be used, from day-to-day management of how people interact with space and making sure you have the right spaces, but also just seeing if it’s effective; are we paying for something that’s working well.
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