The past year has been filled with challenges and uncertainty for all of us. It shattered ways of living and working which had been long taken for granted. Now as parts of the world are opening up again, it sets us thinking: what comes next?
In her opening keynote at Workplace Transform APAC 2021, Vicky Skipp, Regional Director of APAC, Workplace from Facebook, said, “The past 18 months have challenged many of our core assumptions about the world around us. As companies think about what comes next, they have to take into consideration different stages of lockdown, different approaches to vaccination and different speeds of economic recovery.”
This transition is an extraordinary moment, a time for us to shed outdated models, rebuild and continue to work. It has been made clear for many roles, tasks and functions, that work can be done anywhere, it isn't a place we go. It refers to the ability for anyone in the organisation to be connected to everyone - whether they are a frontline, remote or office worker. This flexibility to work from anywhere has been unleashed by technology. However, it is much more than that for Workplace from Facebook. As Vicky puts it, “Well-being and culture are about to become the cornerstone of (your) business strategy. We believe that the only future worth creating is a future that works for everyone.”
That means doing more than providing technology to people who've always had it. It means using technology to connect every employee across the organisation with each other and to the company. It means giving everybody access to the same information and opportunities. So, every individual can be seen, and every voice can be heard.
Brynn Harrington, VP of People Growth, Facebook shared, “At Facebook we're focusing on two sets of questions: Where we work and how we work.”
Where we work involves advancing a remote work strategy, experimenting with flexible work, and keeping our offices vibrant.
How we work is about re-thinking the experiences people have every day, and supporting the long arc of their careers. Designing a new way of working starts with understanding what work really is - these break into three dimensions: Daily collaboration, relationships, and culture.
Similar thoughts were echoed by talent leaders from leading APAC organisations, who shared how 'community' is the key to solving their most important business challenges. Through keynotes, panel discussions, and customer insights, these leaders from the region highlighted how technology and solutions provided by Workplace are enabling them to keep the unconnected (employees) connected.
Here are some key learnings from the many discussions that took place at Workplace Transform APAC 2021:
Being resilient & caring in the face of change
Mike Schneider, Managing Director, Bunnings Group, in the fireside chat shared that at the beginning of the year 2020, the business was experiencing positive momentum and better engagement among customers and teams. But a few months into the year, the pandemic came to Australia and New Zealand, turning the business on its head.
Since then, it was the strength, the resilience, and the company’s ability to support their teams and people that has helped them stay together and not just survive, but thrive through crisis.
Technology has given them the ability to be surrounded by teammates, interact with them, and extend support to them even when they’re apart.
For instance, in the panel discussion, Nico Bambao, Wonderful Employee Experience Director at Globe Telecom, shared how their team created a D.U.D.E bot - their digital officer for disasters. Both the IT team and HR teams worked together to create a solution to ensure people get the right information amidst chaos and panic. Through this inbuilt chatbot, leaders at Globe Telecom could check in on their people, take care of them and support them. In another example, Tracy Llewelyn, Head of Comms for ANZ, Domino's Pizza Enterprises Ltd, shared how technology enabled them to execute open door policies and host Ask Me Anything sessions, even in the middle of the crisis to ensure that employees’ needs are being heard and addressed and no one feels alone.
Ultimately, the tech and people driven era has proven that the future of work is all about building a culture where people have a sense of belonging and can enjoy flexibility where work is not restricted to a physical space of work. Through our actions and daily conversations, and with advanced technology at our disposal, work can be driven from anywhere and meet people where they are.
Building a sustainable & strong culture beyond the office walls
At Bunnings during 2020, around 10,000 new team members were recruited and the workforce grew by 25 or so percent. Onboarding these new joinees in the middle of a pandemic, and with most offices closed temporarily, it was tools like Workplace from Facebook that played a really important role.
“Workplace from Facebook allows us to connect and engage with our team members in the moment, share content that's relevant, share information that's really important for our team members to be hearing, and more importantly gives us an opportunity to listen to our team members and hear from them what's on their mind,” shared Mike.
Technology is enabling more immediate flow of information and giving leaders opportunities to either lean in and support the team when they feel they've lost that empowerment, or recognize and reward the right behaviors to positively highlight the benefits of a highly empowered workforce. Sharing LTI’s experience with Workplace from Facebook, Kamal Shah, Chief Information Officer at LTI, shared how it has enabled the organisation to keep the employees engaged and connected both before and after the pandemic. In fact, it was the foundation that was built in the pre-pandemic era that essentially gave them the ability to transition into remote work easily.
The ability to constantly renew this engagement and connection for their teams has been a significant contributor to really long term strong financial performance, and community engagement for the business.
Fostering a culture of continued collaboration for a distributed workforce
The Live video feature in Workplace from Facebook has been one of the most popular features among the leaders. No surprises there as most brainstorming sessions and critical decision making now happens virtually. It also provides leaders a great platform to engage with their employees even when apart. As Mike said, “I think, nothing really replaces sitting down with a team of people and being able to talk to them and question and answer and engage. And I would love to spend time in person with people across centres in Australia and New Zealand. But with the restrictions during the pandemic, it has changed. However, even today, with Workplace from Facebook, we get this opportunity to make informed decisions.”
Speaking on inducing collaboration in remote work, Tracy added, “We encourage everybody to get involved, we encourage everybody to have a voice and have that authentic voice, it's not just that communications drafted from the comms team. We encourage everybody to get in there and get on there and have a personality and engage because it is a two-way conversation and it's part of everybody's role.”
At Domino's, they enable this culture of collaboration with the company's own Facebook page and encourage everyone to participate and voice their opinions.
Facebook has also focused on robust onboarding and helping people connect not only with the company’s culture, but also their team and people who live nearby, or share interests. The second principle has been social by design – how to support meaningful relationships when people aren't working in the same place. Then, the third principle is impact everywhere, as Facebook looks toward the future where some people choose the office, and others opt to be remote.
“We need to make sure the playing field stays level, every person can fully and meaningfully participate, regardless of where they are. This requires every team to have tools and processes that ensure every person can be seen, heard, and have access to the information they need to do their job,” shared Brynn.
Driving effective communication with tech
Technology is clearly empowering people to communicate. Vicky shared, Workplace mobile app witnessed a 42 percent increase in usage.
With so many ongoing changes in policies, new updates to share, and other things, the employees were struggling with information overload from leadership and HR teams for a long time now. After the COVID-19 outbreak, it further increased. There was a dire need for a tool to consolidate this information and streamline the channels of communication. Tracy shared how Domino's tackled this challenge and said, “Workplace from Facebook was born out of the need to tackle the challenge franchisees and team members were sharing with us. Sending them too many emails and they getting bombed by all the different departments at all the different times. Now we are able to consolidate information.”
But even then information can get missed, which is why Tracy emphasizes that communication should be a two-way effort. It also requires the curiosity from the team to ask questions and voice their concerns, if any.
The discussions that took place at the virtual event reiterated that while we are all in the same storm, we are in different boats. Each business has its own set of challenges and diverse ways to tackle them. Workplace from Facebook aims to cater to these different approaches for businesses and help them in building meaningful communities.
Vicky shared, “We do it with technology that is so simple and that integrates effortlessly into the company's current context.”
Leading a culture of change: It is now or never
As Shellye Archambeau, Board Director & Former CEO of MetricStream said in her closing keynote, “When you want to develop your muscles, you work them to get them strong.” In the beginning the journey seems to be tough, you have sore muscles, but if you continue to work hard and don’t give up, you emerge stronger. The same is with change. Leaders need to take the new transition of the world of work head on and keep working hard with courage towards better outcomes.
So get comfortable being uncomfortable. It's 2021. And now is the time for bold, risk taking.
There's comfort in the familiar, but the way things were done in the past may not allow us to reach our full potential as organisations, or as individuals. So to build meaningful communities and attract and keep the very best talent, we are going to meet people where they are with technology.
If you missed out on Transform APAC, we've got you covered. Click here to watch the event and its highlights here.