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Workplace strategy in a post-pandemic world

The COVID-19 pandemic has put employee well-being at the forefront of the business agenda. According to NTT’s 2020 Intelligent Workplace Report, 86 per cent of businesses will prioritise employee empowerment in their future workplace strategy

In June last year, the Office for National Statistics reported that one in five people said that their work had been affected because they were finding working from home difficult. Now, as lockdown restrictions ease and workers nationwide get ready to return to offices, businesses will be faced with a fresh set of challenges: adapting workplaces to conduct business in the new normal, leveraging technologies to bring remote- and office-based employees together, and adapting office design to align with employees’ new needs. 

With this in mind, PrintIT Reseller asked some of the industry’s business leaders: How important will prioritising employee experience and investing in well-being initiatives be to positively impacting the bottom line, boosting productivity, employee engagement, retention and attraction?

Sam Johnson, Learning and Organisational Manager, Brother UK: “Our success and the relationships we rely on with our partners are driven and delivered by our people. So empowering employees through development and engagement has always been central to our business strategy. And we’re very proud to be consistently recognised by Investors in People as part of these initiatives. 

“Employee empowerment and investment in well-being is particularly prudent following our shared experiences of the last year. We’re among a big cohort of businesses that are bedding-in permanent hybrid working arrangements ready for the full return to the office. This is a huge investment in the employee experience by many businesses, and a recognition of the better work-life balance that home workers have enjoyed in the past year. But it will require considered change to development and management strategies to become a long-term success. After all, it’s more difficult to see whether an employee working remotely is happy and motivated, than it is for office-based staff. 

“These experiences have encouraged us to revisit our entire approach to learning and development, with the ‘Brother Academy’ currently being established. Part of this new approach will empower our own people to become subject matter experts, providing guidance and training to colleagues. For example, we’ve always had a sizable field-based workforce, and these colleagues can support our office-based teams on remote management best practices as we move to a hybrid set-up. 

“However, we recognise that, despite our best efforts to empower employees, losing talent at this time is to be expected. People have experienced a year of reflection and thinking, so a want for change is inevitable. But for firms able to facilitate job flexibility and mobility internally, their chances to retain and even attract talent may be far higher. 

“Likewise, we know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to giving employees what they want or need. For example, companies’ hybrid working policies could come under scrutiny from applicants, particularly from talent who are in a position to make their job work around them. It’s important to recognise this as part of our approach to talent acquisition and retention.” 

www.brother.co.uk

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Tony Milford - Asolvi
Tony Milford – Asolvi

Tony Milford, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Asolvi: “At Asolvi, we believe that listening to our employees and encouraging feedback is essential. We are, naturally, therefore consulting widely with our employees on our future workplace strategy. 

“Improving our employee experience is high on our agenda and as a company that is growing both organically and through a significant number of acquisitions, we feel that the onboarding process is critical. We have recently revised our processes so that we have a completely fresh onboarding programme in place. This will enable us to ensure that all new employees feel part of the Asolvi team right from the start. 

“It is well documented that positive well-being has an impact on productivity, performance and engagement and we also have several employees who are personally passionate about mental health awareness. Our well-being group has been recently established, with the purpose of setting up activities and events that support the physical, mental, social and emotional well-being of all our employees. We also have a newlyqualified mental health first aider and are looking at increasing our training in this area.” 

www.asolvi.com

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Gemma Lee- Head of Employee Experience
Gemma Lee- Head of Employee Experience

Gemma Lee, Head of Employee Experience, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK): “Empowering our employees and using their voice to shape the future is already a priority and central to our people and culture strategy at Konica Minolta. 

“By putting our people at the heart of what we do and by delivering initiatives such as our employee resource groups (ERGs) which enables them to have a voice but also drive change, we’re able to focus our attention on what matters to them in terms of empowering them, driving engagement and delivering meaningful change. This approach supports the future growth and success of our business but also enables growth and development for our employees. 

“During the last year we have launched a number of employee resource groups, most recently one called Breathe, an ERG specifically focused on employee well-being. We know the last year has been particularly hard for many of us, so now more than ever, it’s important we listen to our people and move forward, integrating a well-being focus into our day to day employee experience is key. Through Breathe, we deliver an employee-centric and proactive approach to well-being, as well as offer a safe space to have conversations, break down stigmas and drive change.” 

www.konicaminolta.co.uk

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Steve_Holmes
Steve_Holmes

Steve Holmes, EMEA Regional Director, PaperCut: “A business is nothing without its team, so ensuring they’re motivated, recognised and rewarded is a constant focus for us. More importantly so is listening, encouraging feedback and acting on it, which is why we regularly conduct annual employee surveys to check that what we’re doing is right for our team. 

“Even before the pandemic struck, PaperCut already had a progressive outlook on how our team works, offering them flexi-hours in order to accommodate their private and professional lives. 

“From a broader perspective, we host physical well-being sessions and send financial well-being tips and tricks notes to our ‘PaperCutters’. Recognising that everyone is different with respect to their age, background and demographic, we tailor our sessions to ensure everyone is catered for. 

“To recognise the incredible work our team did last year, we gave all of our ‘PaperCutters’ globally a well-being day to encourage them to look after themselves and to spend some time doing the things that they love. Prepandemic we also hosted regular social and community connection activities such as in office ‘lunch and learns’, Friday afternoon ‘down tools time’ and fun team activities like football, golf and film nights. 

“We’ve not stopped there, though; we encourage our team to share new ideas and initiatives that they think may be beneficial, so it doesn’t have to be a case of ‘business as usual’ at PaperCut. We encourage anyone and everyone in the company to put their hand up to lead or be part of a new initiative, safe in the knowledge that anyone can talk to anyone within the company about an idea they’ve had that may benefit everyone here. 

“Internally, the pandemic mainly served as a driver for us to ask whether there was more that we could do to support our team – not just during the special circumstances dictated by lockdown – but in the long-term. To that end, we issued three COVID-related surveys to our team to get a real insight into their concerns and anxieties during the lockdown period. The feedback we had suggests that flexible working gives them more empowerment, and there’s no doubt that hybrid working supports a balanced lifestyle.” 

www.papercut.com

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ECi Laryssa Alexander
ECi Laryssa Alexander

Laryssa Alexander, President, Field Service Division, ECI Software Solutions: “Well-being initiatives have always been important to ECI and, without a doubt, have become more of a priority over the past year. ECI has historically had a hybrid approach to working from home given our global footprint, and the past year gave us the opportunity to ensure all staff feel empowered in their role – even when working from home. 

“The industry landscape is changing rapidly and to ensure we continue to meet our customers’ needs, staff have had to stay focused and evolve or adapt in line with market trends. We understand that the more engaged and empowered our staff are, the better experience they’ll be able to provide for our customers, which ultimately results in more positive outcomes for our customers’ businesses as well as our own. 

“We acknowledge that the pandemic created an entirely new set of challenges, with some employees having to juggle home-schooling or caring for an array of family members around their role. This has led to the development of a hybrid work model, allowing all ECI employees more flexibility and time off to accommodate the additional demands on their time. 

“We are also proud of our staff training and development programs. LinkedIn Learning is one area we’ve invested in heavily which enables our staff to select topics pertinent to their role as well as their personal development goals.”

The fact we are a global business, operating across various time zones, can present logistical challenges. However, we encourage staff to take a sensible approach to scheduling their time wisely – understanding that burnout or fatigue will only result in decreased engagement and job satisfaction. 

www.ecisolutions.com

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Allen Waugerman, Lexmark president and CEO
Allen Waugerman, Lexmark president and CEO

Allen Waugerman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lexmark: “From the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Lexmark global crisis management team worked to quickly implement measures to ensure we did everything we could to keep our employees safe. The COVID crisis management team, set up in February 2020, focused on global business continuity plans and keeping our supply chains intact, with a special focus on the safety of employees, partners and customers. 

“Some of the measures that were implemented included a ‘work from home’ policy; providing an IT infrastructure for our employees to continue to work and collaborate effectively; updated travel guidelines and visitor policies; and increased hygiene measures for anyone travelling or attending our offices throughout the pandemic. Additionally, we created internal webpages which were available to Lexmark employees to provide the latest information on policy changes to ensure everyone was well informed. 

“We understand the sacrifices our employees had to make to adapt to new working measures, so parents and other caregivers were given extra flexibility to accommodate home schooling and other needs and tasks, and a very gentle return to the office policy was introduced after the first wave of the virus, with many still given the option to continue working from home. 

“As we looked towards how we will operate in a post-pandemic landscape, we want our employees to feel safe and empowered to work on their terms. A task force was set up in the summer of 2020 to work out a new hybrid work model that allows for home office days for post-COVID times, we called this Flex@Lex. This task force worked with senior management to provide Lexmark employees with resources for self-care and help to cope with COVID-19 related stress. 

“The crisis team is still active to this date, continuing to monitor the worldwide situation as new COVID hotspots emerge, and to make sure our global workforce is safe. Some of the current activities of the team included strategies to ensure a smooth reintroduction back to the office and support for vaccinations, even exploring the possibility of accessing vaccines for Lexmark employees. 

“We are proud of Lexmark employees across the globe, not only for their ability to adapt to these trying times and continued support to our partners and customers, but also the empathy shown to one another which has been admirable.” 

www.lexmark.com

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