These past few months have redefined how we work and how we relate with our employees. Listening to employees has become vital in detecting and satisfying their new needs. It is also a way of getting them involved and helping them become aware of the need to reimagine strategic areas of the business.
More communication is also key for their engagement, as is stimulating collaboration between employees in times of social distancing and work away from the office, ensuring they are productive and aligned with the organization’s priorities.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies were already managing change towards a more transversal and flatter organization model, with co-creation, without isolated silos, and with a relationship with employees based on responsible autonomy and flexibility.
For those organizations, the pandemic has simply accelerated the change. But for others, this has been a true tsunami. In either case, the opportunity arises to reimagine the future of our organizations with our employees, as a community, and decide how we want to live in them.
Redefining the office
Imagine a traditional office layout to draw a comparison with a model of change management based on technology, innovation and personal autonomy, regardless of whether work is done at the office desk or at home.
In this environment, offices–where decisions are made–leave their doors open and are used to reinforce digital, transversal and integrative communication, aligning employees with the organization in a broader way, and in less time.
The conference room is also digitized into digital co-creation spaces, where ideas are conceived and contrasted, among other people and teams. It is also the space where the organization can ask for input from employees and collect their ideas on how to handle strategic issues.
Spaces for socialization, like the canteen, are replaced with a social experience, through a community where the organization listens to employees and hears their ideas, using gamification and other resources to reinforce employee engagement, collaboration, and make talent visible to the organization’s management.
Lastly, the workplace as such expands thanks to all the different collaborative resources. It also becomes more flexible and is no longer restricted to the office, while encouraging time optimization and a good balance between work and family life.
Before the pandemic, EY Spain used one of our innovation communities to involve employees in their move to new offices in Madrid. Over 700 employees shared their ideas for the co-design of the workspace, including corners for informal meetings and an open layout to promote productivity, collaboration and inspiration.
Aside from creating the best workspace for the future, the big four wanted to look after the well-being of employees and their engagement, being aware of the time they would spend in their new office.
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Among the advantages of a listening model that is digital and co-creative is the increased ability to detect employee needs and motivations, providing an employee package that helps to capture, develop and retain talent throughout its entire life cycle.
Likewise, Banco Santander also opted for active listening and sought ideas from employees to reformulate work in the bank. Employee contributions gave rise to Flexiworking, a Decalogue with measures to stimulate productivity, increase efficiency, create a responsible work/family balance, all of which always subservient to providing the best service to clients.
Among the actions included in the project are flexible working hours, fewer but more productive and rational meetings (never after 6 PM), and promoting remote work. According to a global engagement survey carried out by the bank in 2018, 84% of employees say they enjoy the reconciliation measures, which allow them to harmonize their professional and personal development.
RTVE and Fundación máshumano are other examples of organizations who, with the backdrop of COVID-19, have opted for change management based on listening and co-creation with employees.
RTVE opened an ideas challenge to participation from its internal innovation community Innova RTVE, where employees of the corporation shared their suggestions to promote teleworking and make it compatible with being at the forefront of reporting and information.
In the case of Fundación máshumano, it opened its humanization ecosystem ecosh to participation from all interested organizations, sharing good practices for change management in the face of COVID-19 among its associated companies, and asking its network of organizations, experts and employees to co-create measures together to manage teams in this context.