By: Meet in Place content team
Goodbye office ping pong tables, hello employee development. Theresa Pauzer, Chief People Officer at data analysis company 1010DATA, on how the coronavirus is accelerating a newfound appreciation between employers and employees.
We all feel a big shift in balance occurring in our lives lately. Perhaps the most notable one is the work-home balance, but there’s also the alone-together balance, the fridge-sofa balance, and let’s not forget the pajama-clothing balance. But the balance between employers and employees is shifting as well.
Employees are getting more autonomy at home, proving their value and maintaining high productivity while employers are getting to know the person behind the worker, courtesy of their laptop camera. “There is a human aspect that’s occurring as a result of Covid”, says Theresa Pauzer, Chief People Officer at data analysis company 1010DATA. “We are getting to know our people in a different way and getting a deeper understanding of them, and as a result there is a better appreciation of what talented professionals bring to the table”.
How has WFH changed the relationship between employers and employees?
“The interesting thing for me is getting to know people on an intimate basis in a way you never would have before. You get a glimpse of their home, you see them in pony tails and no make-up, in t-shirts, their kids are running around in the background or sitting on their laps. You see that people live a different life than they did in the office. Now everyone is bringing that life into the office in a way. Just accepting that in everybody gives you a deeper appreciation of the person that’s behind the employee.”
How do employers encourage employee engagement when working remotely?
“The human component is extremely important right now and it’s important to have all lines of communication open. We have switched from being transparent to being transparent on steroids. It is a little bit different because our engagement with our employees is based on seeing people on Zoom. It’s difficult enough to have your employees engaged when they’re in the office but it’s even more critical to have them engaged while they’re not in the office.
It’s important to keep a routine, with daily stand up calls, town halls for all employees, and even a happy hour. There’s an effort that has to go into it, this is not just an HR thing, we all need to be cognizant of people working remotely and have a level of emotional intelligence and empathy for what they’re going through.”
How can companies maintain their culture while WFH?
“We’re going to have to reinvent how we work together. The most important component of creating and maintaining a culture is to base it on your values. Who you are as a company and what you value, and always go back to that. That DNA of the company is what keeps people together and that’s the only thing right now that hasn’t changed in the world. Your job has changed, where you work has changed, maybe even your industry. The thing that has not changed is who we are and what we stand for so always go back to that north star”.
Can we start preparing for the day after in terms of coming back to the office?
“In the immediate future there are some underlying operational and infrastructural issues that need to be taken into consideration. For example, you can only have 2-3 people in an elevator at once. In a highrise building in New York, there’s going to be a queue of people waiting in the lobby, six feet from each other. Are you getting less productivity by sending them back to work in the office? Have you set up the infrastructure in the office in terms of spacing, cleaning supplies, do you rotate your staff? There are all these unknowns and there is no playbook”.
So how do you decide when it’s safe to go back?
Some companies have been severely impacted by layoffs. The people that you worked with before aren’t the people you’re going to go back to work with going forward. That ‘survivor syndrome’, where people are missing colleagues that they worked with for a very long time, that’s gonna have an impact on us too which I don’t know if anyone is thinking about yet”.
Will this change in perspective have an effect on how employers invest in their employees?
“The ‘Google mentality’ of ping pong tables and beer taps is going to have to change. It’s not as important anymore to have all those nice things in the office. More important right now is to bring us back to those values and invest in our employees to show that we want them engaged, we want them to stay, we want to retain them and grow with them. The wave of the future will be learning, educational development and training your employees in order to keep folks engaged and happy. It’s telling them ‘We got to know you better and we know who you are’, and through that you’re creating a more genuine human touch that you might not have had before”.
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