As Chief human resources officer of Zalaris, it is my job to organise and manage human capital. COVID-19 has pushed the boundaries of my role as the employees’ health quickly become my highest priority. I find myself engaging with my colleagues on a more personal level, striving to make them feel even more secure and happy during this pandemic.
Regrouping and the aligning of interests
Currently, my greatest interest is how our employees are feeling about coming back to the office and how, as a team, we can figure out a ‘new normal’.
Therefore, we launched a survey for our employees and 56% said they want flexibility between working from home (WFH) and the office.
The top 3 positive changes provided by employees from their work related, covid-19 experiences are:
- Flexibility of working from home when preferred: the ability to choose when to go into the office.
- Structured online meetings and more frequent team meetings in general. Both have increased transparency.
- Physical activity breaks during a normal workday, the ability to go for a walk etc.
Erosion of barriers
The ability to meet virtually has had a positive effect. You feel connected and grasp a stronger insight into what the other person feels, due to seeing their facial expressions and body language. Plus, we feel connected with our colleagues on a more personal level than ever before as we see the backdrop of people’s homes, even the homes of news presenters on TV!
Companies are building ‘new’ relationships with their employees through this hybrid model of onsite and online workspaces. It encourages a flatter hierarchy and blurs the lines between departments; no longer are we all sat in separate parts of the office, divided by barriers.
Swift implementation of WFH
Even before the advice came from local authorities, we ordered employees to stay home if they had travelled abroad, had symptoms of diseases or had to use public transport to get to work. Due to our swift response, only 2 out of 800 employees were quarantined. Therefore, we quickly implemented WFH, our IT and virtual framework is well equipped and so our home office solutions were very effective from day one. We also updated contingency plans on a weekly basis and made sure this information was available to all employees to try and reduce anxiety.
Ultimately, I feel we acted very quickly and were able to abate any health risks for our employees. Through constant communication I am trying to discover what my colleagues need and want to continue feeling safe now, and in the future. I hold good faith that we, and many other companies, will be able to find a solution that best meets the requirements of the business and its employees, post COVID-19.
Hilde is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Zalaris. She carries more than a decade each of executive HR management expertise and executive search consulting. Hilde joined Zalaris in September 2018.