How Covid-19 has created disruption in our working life
2020 became the year that no one expected it to be. 2020 has so far truly pushed all of us to re-consider many things that we do. Spending hours each week commuting to an office is one of these things…
Accelerated into a new reality in culture and acceptance
Working from home has been a topic on the agenda for some time, but often connected to a lot of resistance from leaders due to the long list of challenges associated with it. However, the COVID-pandemic has proven it is possible to work from home. And, not only possible, but it can also even be beneficial for the individual, team and the company. Nexus' CHRO, Sabina Olsson, and her team are having to re-think, like many organizations, the need for office space and the potential to recruit people based in all corners of the world. Many employees are also re-considering the setup of their working life; "Can I live outside of big cities and work from a distance?", "Can I now spend more time with my family or at the gym, if I don't need to spend time commuting back and forth to the office?". These are examples of great potential for employers and employees around the globe.
Nexus had the technical solutions in place to switch to a work from home culture
At Nexus, we have been able to keep working full time throughout the pandemic. One thing that has really helped us has been that we have an infrastructure enabled by trusted identities for secure remote working connected to a security mindset due to our ISO 27001 standard. So, the technical possibilities to work from home were in place, but how are people able to cope with this fast transformation? "At Nexus, 'never assume', is one of our leading principles, so we decided to survey our employees to get their guidance," says Sabina. The result was clear, working from home has not had the negative impact that we were worried about prior, and in some respects, even the opposite. Out of 200 respondents, 40% said it hadn't affected the work achievements and 50% actually felt that working from home had a somewhat positive, or only positive effect on their working achievement.
Q. Has working remotely had a positive or negative effect on your work achievement?
Throughout the survey, our open-ended questions gave some further insight into why this had been positive. "People believe it gives them a better chance to focus, and to remove the time spent traveling back and further to an office," adds Sabina. So, does this mean that people are satisfied with working from home? "The answer to this question is basically "yes!"," exclaims Nexus' CHRO. 82% of the respondent said they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with this new set up.
Q. In general are you satisfied with working from home?
What will the future look like?
Do these results mean we can close our offices and switch completely to lone wolves in our home offices? One could have thought so, but no. "This is not the way most of our employees want it to work," says Sabina. "We did see that some employees were not satisfied with this setup, so we need to find a solution that fits all. It is also important to remember that most people are social human beings, and even if we have managed well so far, there is a longing to meet with colleagues, customers and partners again". We have therefore started to consider a more flexible approach, which the survey answers also support. Our employees want to be able to choose for themselves and split their time between working from home and being in the regular office.
Q. How would you like to work in the future (after COVID-19)?
Easy said, easy done...?
At Nexus, we have always strived to be a modern and agile employer, so when we received the results that flexibility is what our employees want, also in terms of offices, it was clear for us that this is what we must aim for. But, as usual, some things are easier said than done. How do we ensure that we meet in person every now and then? "Many colleagues answered in the survey that they miss their colleagues and the "Nexus-spirit" we have in our offices, and this cannot be neglected," states Sabina. "We also have colleagues who want to be full-time in the office, should they not be allowed?" Sabina and her team questioned. Well, once again we decided to lean on one of our principles: "own it". We have simply asked our employees to be at the office at least two days a week in order to not lost the Nexus culture and for all of us to be able to spend some time chatting over a cup of coffee. In some places two days a week is still a challenge due to the COVID-situation, but this will be the aim in the long run. For the rest of their workdays, they "own" their planning. For those who think two days are enough, they are welcome to spend the rest of their time working from home. "Colleagues who want to be in the office every day are welcomed with open arms... but not literally as COVID is still happening and we have firm office guidelines in terms of distance and other safety measures," says Sabina.
However, we do see some challenges ahead. One is, for example, the strict demands that are put on the employers in terms of health and safety at work. How do we ensure a good physical and psychosocial work environment for those employees working from home? "I think it is safe to say that no one would want their employer to do home-visits and force them to have a proper office desk and chair in their fancy small 2-bedroom apartment in Stockholm's city center. Or to ask them to have an emergency exit plan in their flat," the HR leader adds. So how can the employer still be responsible? And how do employers handle psychosocial challenges?
Another concern that is arising is the challenge to ensure employees take breaks and turn off their computers. "Today the laptop equals work, and I think we have all seen that it is very easy to keep the laptop open during a lunch break or at 7 pm when you were supposed to stop working. All employers will have a very important mission in supporting their employees in finding a new structure for work-life balance, especially when both are under the same roof," says Sabina.
Nexus' guiding principles
Other than health and safety challenges, we also have a potential challenge with how to lead people that you no longer see in person every day. How can we ask our leaders at Nexus to lead and follow up with 300 employees who are spread out all over? Well, first, it's about communication and being engaged and driven by technology. We humans find ways of communicating frequently with each other as long as we are aligned in our objective. Secondly, since we are competent and engaged employees within Nexus, we had even before Covid-19 already stepped back from micro-managing or telling employees exactly what to do in every given situation. Instead, we have provided our employees with six guiding principles - Customer Engagement, Own It, Never Assume, Collaboration, Constant Improvement, and Get things out. We ask our employees to always consider these principles and then make decisions based on their own judgment and knowledge. The good thing with this is that we don't have to sit next to every employee to know if they made the right decision. Our principles will guide us. Implemented since before Covid-19, there is an employee review at least three times per year where every one of us at Nexus will have a performance review with our leaders based on how well we live up to the Nexus-principles.
"We want to be a flexible employer and enhance loyalty both in terms of where we work and exactly how we solve tasks," concludes Sabina Olsson. With the new principles and increased flexibility employees can live as they want, which is possibly one of the best benefits to come from this global pandemic.