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EXCLUSIVE! OpenGov Live! Virtual Insight: Winning in the Hybrid World – Transforming Employee Experience to Accelerate Business Growth in APAC and Beyond

The pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way we organise our lives and continues to drive change even now. In response, organisations have massively adopted digital technologies to enable people to learn, work or receive care regardless of distance.

Given that the digital space dictates the new normal, it is mission-critical to re-think how technology can support an organisation’s workforce strategy, employee experience, talent acquisition and development programmes. At the same time, an organisation must re-imagine how it reaches and better serves partners and serves customers digitally.

For organisational leaders, the emerging hybrid workplace introduces several challenges that require change at both the strategic and tactical levels. The post-pandemic workplace has significant implications not only for workers but IT (Information Technology), which will need to adapt user-supporting processes and play a more significant role in partnering with HR (Human Resource) on the policies and approaches that underpin work processes and changing culture. IT will also need to reprioritise its technology investments as a result.

The implications for HR, Operations and Transformation leaders regarding employee workspaces and hybrid setups are many:

  • Levels of engagement, interactivity and participation during web-based employee communication, remote onboarding, online teamwork, and virtual training sessions
  • Struggle to make connections, develop trust and build a sense of belonging when working remotely
  • Turning the organisation into a hybrid workplace that attracts, develop, and retain talents regardless of work style or location preference.
  • Designing safe learning and working spaces that are built for the hybrid world and that creates more engagement
  • Collaboration between local and remote employees partnering more closely with decision-makers for policy enablement and enforcement and appropriate monitoring

When confronting these new challenges, organisations need to carefully consider how to comprehensively transform their operations amid the new normal. This was the central discussion during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Insight held on 10 November 2021.

Enhancing corporate culture in a digital age

Mohit Sagar: Looking into the future – building digital corporate culture

Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, OpenGov Asia, set the context for the session with his opening address.

To kickstart the event, Mohit asked the delegates to vote on whether they would want to continue working from home in 2022 for 60% of their time. To that, a substantial majority (60%) of the delegates indicated that they prefer to do so.

The result is consistent with OpenGov Asia’s other polls, where 82% of the workforce prefers to continue to work from home. It is clear that companies must cater to the changing nature of work. The key to attracting and retaining talents lies in building a strong organisational culture.

Rethinking organisational platforms, workspaces, tools as the digital space becomes a new reality is not an option, but an imperative. Work culture has genuinely changed and companies that successfully migrate to a true hybrid culture will have the upper hand, Mohit is convinced.

More so than ever, governments and organisations need to intuitively sense and respond to new technological opportunities to drive digital transformation. Investing in the development of new competencies will increase trust, better engagement, smoothen ease of use and accelerate ways of responding to a request

The hybrid workspace is here to stay, Mohit believes, yet companies continue to get their people “zoom-ed” and “team-ed” out. The platforms and technology organisations use will determine the employee experience. It comes down to details such as having the ability to distinguish a zoom call from a high-level meeting.

To cut out the noise and establish a USP for employee and customer experience, a citizen-centric approach is necessary.

“What is your USP for your employees?” Mohit asks.

It is crucial to build on the employee experience for continuous growth and to ensure that employees do not lose motivation or passion in their role. Building and managing a conducive environment is key. Developing and spreading a healthy corporate culture is possible with the right technology platform.

Harnessing future-proof technology to build company culture

Marc Remond: Growing human capital in a hybrid workspace is critical

Following Mohit’s presentation, Marc Remond, Vice President of Sales, Meeting & Learning Experience Solutions, Asia Pacific, Barco, spoke on how Barco helps companies harness technology to grow human capital in a hybrid workspace.

The future is hybrid, Marc agrees with Mohit, and a reinvention of the employee experience is necessary. Data shows that by July 2020, 67% of the companies pivoted into a hybrid or virtual model and Barco become the leading solution for Executive Education and Corporate L&D.

While video meeting solutions are aplenty, the crux of the matter is how many are truly interactive and sustainable in the long term? How do organisations manage video conferencing fatigue? How do they keep people engaged, productive and efficient?

These are fundamental challenges that must be strategically addressed if companies are to thrive – not just survive – in the new normal.

Answering these foundational issues requires choosing a platform that can provide a more immersive, interactive and integrated employee experience that will result in increased engagement and collaboration regardless of whether the context is virtual, hybrid or local.

Unlike other platforms, Barco provides a richer experience where the presenter is “centre stage,” and every participant sits in the first row. The platform allows speakers to see people “life-size” on screen, read facial expressions and locate the active speaker.

Apart from that, the flexible interface allows users to select a preferred view “On Demand,” choosing from multiple streams or staying “On Screen” during breakouts. All these details contribute to an engaging experience.

Barco ensures a collaborative experience where groups are visible during breakouts, allowing facilitators to join any breakout room to interact and collaborate. It offers an integrated experience with the on-screen display of results, real-time insights to measure engagement and post-session data download.

Regardless of function and format (virtual, hybrid or local), Barco provides a versatile tool for any type of meeting – onboarding, training, meeting, brainstorming sessions.

Marc is convinced that the key to success in talent attraction and retention in a company is to transform the experience of the digital workspace. Technology is the enabler that can elevate digital platforms to another level. Knowing when and how to utilise it to build healthy cohesive company culture is important.

Creating a human-centred work experience

Temitope Sadiku: Rethinking human resource and the workspace experience

The next speaker, Temitope Sadiku, Global Head of Digital Employee Experience, The Kraft Heinz Company, elaborated on the considerations when creating a human-centred work experience.

Temitopw opines that the way forward hinges on three basic concepts: creating a borderless space, defining effective collaboration and understanding your corporate uniqueness

Temitope began by getting the delegates to ponder a borderless space, “No longer do we need to be in a physical location to achieve an objective.”

Drawing parallels to the realm of space, she feels that organisations should think of the workplace as a borderless “workspace”.

The digital workspace is “whatever it needs to be,” meaning that it is an open area that can be crafted to the needs of an organisation. Organisations must not conceive the digital workspace with a predefined shape and form but an area that is up for organisations to reimagine, redesign and remake.

At Kraft Heinz, they are constantly thinking about the experience around a video conferencing room – the environment. How can a meeting room be designed to optimise work? How can workers be empowered to be effective irrespective of the space they are in?

Regardless of the solution, the key is about making sure that work is connected. “What is your foundation to connect people irrespective of the space they are in? How can corporate culture be communicated through the channels you employ?”

To design an effective work environment, one must first define collaboration and the means to measure it. Like the tree root system, organisations navigating remote work need to think about “how to enable information to flow.”

Kraft Heinz introduced a collaborative tool and put in place a culture of working at any place, any time, using any device. Knowledge is stored to enrich communication. The measurement for collaboration reflects that value placed on the employee experience of collaborating:

  • How much time do we spend in meetings?
  • How many attendees are in meetings?
  • How many meetings have an agenda?
  • How much of the workday is spent in meetings?
  • How often do you work with others in your direct and indirect team?

Finally, Temitope emphasised the need for organisations to grapple with their corporate uniqueness in terms of the digital experience of their employees. Organisations need to recognise that one size does not fit all. Organisations must appreciate their own uniqueness, much like a family with its distinctive quirks.

To truly design a seamless experience, it is imperative to gain, quantitative, qualitative and observational (also known as ethnographical) insights into the employee base. One strategy would be to create “a space to respond and listen” or a feedback loop to actively learn what people say.

The future of work will move from function to cluster working teams, increasingly feature fluid working spaces and focus on work-life balance. Instead of thinking of employees in terms of their functions, the focus ought to be on the communities formed – “tribes.”

Currently, the issues that hamper organisations include the complicated experience of digital workspaces and the inability to implement digital transformation quickly.

For Kraft Heinz, the focus is to design spaces for more effective collaboration, establish a seamless experience, enable workspace fluidity, as well as facilitate the generation and retention of knowledge.

Interactive Discussion

After the informative presentations, delegates participated in interactive discussions facilitated by polling questions. This activity is designed to provide live-audience interaction, promote engagement, hear real-life experiences and facilitate discussions that impart professional learning and development for participants.

The first question asked delegates how many hours their employees spend per day using video conferencing and streaming for meetings, learning and on-boarding on average in their organisation. Half of the delegates (50%) indicated that they spend more than 6 hours per day on meetings, while the remaining were spent more than 8 hours (25%), 4 hours (20%) or 2 hours (5%).

When asked about their top challenges with hybrid workplace models, the majority (55%) expressed that developing an engagement that builds up the corporate culture is the biggest challenge. The rest were split between organising meetings, presenting and collaborating most effectively (25%), inspiring and communicating with audiences locally and globally (10%) and setting an attractive virtual environment for employees to convince and impress customers or investors (5%).

A few delegates felt that culture is a big part of the employee experience and that an engagement strategy needs to be thought out to cope with the challenges of hybrid workspaces.

On the topic of who should take the lead (function/department) in workplace transformation, an overwhelming majority of the delegates (68%) indicated that the executive leadership team (C-suite) should take the lead. The remaining votes went to digital transformation (5%) and others (27%).

When asked, some delegates felt that workplace transformation is a function of all departments. Others opined that HR should take the lead in spearheading the tactical response to the changing nature of work.

Inquiring about how a Chief Information Officer should make the hybrid workplace a reality, just over a third (38%) felt that subscribing or developing technology to enhance the engagement strategy is the key. Another quarter (23%) indicated building or fully utilising technology to serve as a user-friendly communication platform was important while about a tenth (8%) opted for assisting employees to keep corporate information safe. The rest of the delegates were almost equally split between advising on virtual streamlined workflows to improve engagement (15%) and other issues (16%).

Some delegates believe that engagement is a vital aspect of the employee experience and an essential part of company culture. It is imperative that to translate company culture into the digital space.

On how to ensure that productivity and efficiency levels remain high in their organisation, a significant portion (29%) indicated re-designing workspaces and remote options for the future of work (29%) was key. A majority of the group was equally divided between providing full access to the right tools or systems for remote work (21%) and encouraging flexible work policies (21%).

On the strategies to use to attract and retain employees, half the delegates went with “others” followed by providing learning and development exposure to equip employees with the skills required (36%). The rest of the votes were evenly split between improving HR policies on virtual working (7%) and ensuring workspaces provide all the tools needed to complete the task efficiently (7%).

On that note, Mohit notes that there is a dearth of talent globally. People are able to work from any place, at any time. The options have expanded tremendously in the job market. This means that HR policies will need to step up in terms of their strategy to attract and retain talents.

The final poll was on delegates’ go-to method to upskill and reskill a distributed workforce. The majority indicated empowering employees to learn on their own time using collaborative tools (33%), conducting more engaging and effective training with proper visualisation (20%) and supporting equal skilling opportunities for all (7%).

Conclusion

In wrapping up the session, Marc acknowledges that the work culture has fundamentally changed. The hybrid workplace is here to stay and there is a need to remain competitive to avoid talent war.

It is an inescapable reality – part of the workforce will be remote. “Should we wait for the C-suite to realise that there’s a problem or should HR bring the problem to the table?” he asked, imploring delegates to consider pre-empting the future of work and getting prepared for what is to come.

Strategising for a digital workspace involves elevating the human-to-human experience in the virtual workspace and capitalising on the right tools to build a unique company culture. Standing at the crossroad of digital transformation, Marc expressed the need for HR to stay ahead of the game, anticipate the change and pre-empt the issues that can inform the C-suite.

He assured the delegates that Barco would be available to help organisations in their plans. He encouraged them to reach out to him and his team to explore ways they could be of assistance on their transformation journey.

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