Chief People Officers Share Insights on Preparing Employees for Workspace Transformation

Organizations across the world are adapting to meet the needs of employees and address modern challenges, and many have been experimenting with new ways of working (including Zoom!).

This shift to new ways of working offers opportunities for enhanced flexibility and increased worker autonomy, but it also comes with the need to implement cutting-edge technology to support effective collaboration and coordinate the operations of global teams. However, one common theme endures throughout this shift – ensuring your teams are prepared for success in this new way of working. 

At Zoom’s first Work Transformation Summit, Lynne Oldham, Zoom’s former Chief People Officer, led a panel discussion with three experts from leading enterprise businesses to discuss how organizations can prepare their workforce for the switch to new ways of working. Here are some insights from that session.

Be active in discovering and addressing needs

Although employees in all industries will need new solutions and strategies to succeed in the demands of the modern workspace, the needs of employees will be unique at each organization. Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer at Momentive, described how her organization worked to quickly discover and address the professional and personal needs of its employees during a time of transformation. 

“Using our own suite of products to listen to our employees, it was clear that we had workspace set up challenges and balance of responsibility challenges for team members across the world, as well as challenges around adapting to this new way of working, and continuing to be able to collaborate, meet, onboard, and hire. Around those key areas, using our employees’ thoughts, ideas, and contributions, we were able to quickly bring to bear programs or offerings to help them meet these challenges, including time off, sick time, the ability to set up a proper workspace at home, and providing all of our collaboration tools and resources.” 

Challenges provide an opportunity for improvement

The challenge of accommodating new ways or working can also create unique opportunities for positive change. Donna Morris, Chief People Officer at Walmart, spoke of how the retailer took these significant challenges head-on and leveraged this time to transform its hiring process. 

“We were really able to pivot and look at our core processes and turn them around in consideration of new opportunities. We’ve started 24-hour hiring first with Walmart US, now we’re doing it with Sam’s Club, and now we’re even trying it with our corporate roles as well, so expediting hiring and the hiring process was one way we changed things. So what I would say to all of us is to take this time of adverse challenge and turn it into a catalyst for great change and optimism.”

Effective hybrid work starts with leaders and managers

Hybrid work provides opportunities for increased flexibility and greater worker autonomy. But without proper management and leadership, even the best hybrid work model can fail. Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer at VICE Media Group, shared how VICE has committed to supporting its managers and leaders to help ensure the success of their teams and organizations.

“Last year we also published a ‘Hybrid Work’ guide for our teams, and we said: this will probably change in six months, but here are the important things for you to know and understand. And in the guide we stressed that as we shift into new models of work, that it would bring new challenges to leaders and managers, including how you build, manage, and engage employees in a distributed workforce and ensure parity between remote and in-office workers. We focused on providing those tools and resources to our managers because we realized that their level of resilience would predict their team’s level of resilience.” 

Remain flexible in creating work models

While the primary goal of this workspace transformation is to enhance flexibility, organizations must be careful in how they implement new ways of working to avoid having the opposite effect. Morris shared the importance of remaining flexible in determining a work model, as well as an overview of Walmart’s process of determining hybrid work models within the organization. 

“I think we have to be cautious about saying that hybrid answers everyone’s problem or request, because if you’re prescriptive, it’s actually not flexible. What we’re finding is that people really struggle with ambiguity, and everyone wants to know what that recipe is for work. And what we’re trying to say is, ‘The recipe is very dependent on your job, on your personal circumstances, and how you want to work and live.’ I don’t buy into the Great Resignation, I buy into the Great Reassessment — people want something different, and all of us need to be thinking about how we serve that difference up to unlock their opportunity for impact.” 

Sore spots are felt from the bottom up

Pulling from her book, “Inclusion Revolution: The Essential Guide to Dismantling Racial Inequity in the Workplace,” which details Auger-Dominguez’s findings over a 20-year career in diversity, equity, and inclusion, Auger-Dominguez shared a sage piece of advice regarding how to identify critical issues during workplace transformations: 

“During the pandemic, I wrote a book, which is meant for managers who want to create an impact on diversity, equity, and inclusion and are often caught between the demands from the top, and the increasing demand from the bottom up. And when I say the bottom up, I want to be clear, the bottom of most organizations is where the sore spots are really felt. And I think many of us in the last two years have become much more attuned to what challenges everyone at every level of the organization was facing in this new virtual world. It created an opportunity for us to dig into processes and systems, and it identified gaps in how we recruit and engage teams, and also how we onboard.” 

Create a culture of choice 

The workspace transformation is ultimately about crafting a work model that fits the needs of both the organization and its employees. Cantieri shared how Momentive is working to ensure that employees not only have flexibility in their work models, but autonomy as well. 

“All of our internal research aligns well with the research that Zoom and Momentive did together about how much employees value choice, and allowed us to embrace choice as the heart and soul of our future of work model and give our employees the ability to choose where they are most productive and what works best for their life.” 

View the full recording of this session and check out all the other Workspace Transformation Summit sessions to discover creative approaches to successfully navigating the next phase of work. Zoom is proud to support customers like Walmart, Momentive, and VICE Media Group — to learn more about how organizations around the world are using Zoom, visit our customer stories page

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