Tech Talent Charter’s DE&I Festival 2022

This Works: Remote and Hybrid Working

Wednesday the 2nd March 2022


Panellists:

  • Adam Mitchell, Head of Implementation for Design & Change Commercial and Business Banking at NatWest
  • Anne-Marie lister, Chief People Officer at Atom bank
  • David Prezzano, Managing Director. United Kingdom & Ireland at HP
  • Victoria Sherrington, Digital capability and People Lead for Homes England

The pros and cons of hybrid and remote working have been hotly debated over the last couple of years. In this session, our panel of experts shared their experiences of both hybrid and remote working within their own organisations with a lens on promoting greater inclusion and accessibility for their employees. Here’s what they shared:


The Benefits of Remote and Hybrid Working:

  1. Offering remote working or being location agnostic as In the case of Homes England allows organisations access to all of the best tech talent across the UK regardless of where their offices are based.

    Victoria Sherrington, Digital Capability and People Lead for Homes England explained that Homes England is fully location agnostic. Employees have the choice of which office they work from and how often they want to work from home and the office.

    “You do not want to put up unnecessary barriers to stop people coming into your organisation. We always need to challenge and ask why does this role need to be performed in this location? Is this going to be a barrier to attracting talent to your organisation?”

  2. Remote working fosters an Inclusive, open working culture built on trust.
    Victoria from Homes England again leads the point around fostering a trusting and respectful culture. “We employ good people and trust people to get on with it. If there is a performance issue, then there is a performance issue regardless of where someone works”, based on their ability to do the job and not on the location of their role.

  3. Productivity Increases:
    All of our panel agree that productivity based in remote/hybrid working, environments has increased as they focus on outcomes. Do the discoveries and let things progress, again referring back to the trust piece from the previous point. Empower and allow your staff to bring their best to their roles. Organisations have regular check-ins, stand-ups, 1-2-1’s and crucially realise that what productivity looks like for one person might be different to another. Allowing greater inclusion and individuality in your teams leads to stronger teams and greater productivity.

The Challenges of Remote and Hybrid Working:

  1. Staff have missed the face-to-face collaboration that working from the office naturally offers.
    David Prezzano, Managing Director for UK and Ire land HP agreed that hybrid working is here to stay. Whilst working from home provides many individuals with a great opportunity to get stuff done if working on an independent piece of work, staff unanimously agree that they have missed the face-to-face collaboration that working from the office naturally offers. You can get together and brainstorm around a whiteboard and let creativity and innovation flow.

  2. Be aware of the intersectionality of hybrid/remote working. Different generations will thrive or struggle In hybrid and remote working environments for different reasons.

    Whilst some people will thrive in this type of environment, those who have their own home office etc are typically older generations. it is crucial to recognise that for some employees, particularly Gen Z are barely hanging on. They are more than likely living with other housemates. probably Without a dedicated workspace, sharing the kitchen table. The risk around hybrid working for the youngest employees is that we don’t always hear their voices. which is crucial for innovation and collaboration as Gen Z tend to be the most diverse members of our community.

  3. Proximity Blas
    Our panellists discussed proximity bias.
    The negative perception that working a reduced week or working from home more frequently than others means that you are perceived to be less engaged or committed than your colleagues who don’t. All of our panellists agreed that each organisation is investing time and resources to educating and training managers on the need to embrace the whole person and realise that each individual employee brings with them their own unique set of circumstances, that must be understood and supported rt they are to have an inclusive, flexible working culture.

The Next Evolution of Remote and Hybrid Working:

  1. Move to a 4-day working week to super optimise performance and productivity.


    Anne-Marie lister, Chief People Office,r at Atom Bank has shared how Atom Bank are turning flexible working on its head and have been trialling a 4-day {remote working) week company-wide, since November 2021.


    Atom Bank has an ethos of challenge and changing things for the better and set in place surveys and focus groups to look at their ways of working and what impact that was having on their staffs lives. They wanted to change their working practice to a 4-day working week. They tested productivity measures and metrics to evaluate the benefits to the business and ind ividuals and offered a voluntary 4 day a week scheme. with 97% of the staff community opting in.


    I. Staff work 34 hours a week over 4 or 5 day’s dependant on which pathway they chose
    II. Productivity significantly increased company-wide
    III. Attrition, sickness and overtime decreased significantly
    IV. Many efficiencies realised, including the meeting culture within Atom. Aligning meetings so that they are only arranged on certain days of the week to allow individuals to focus on work on the other days. Allows staff to get more work done, individuals have more time to do more. which drives productivity.

  2. 500% Increase In job applications across all roles at Atom Bank, bucking the UK

    Tech Shortage Trend.

    This is perhaps the greatest benefit for Atom. By moving to a 4 day a week model allows Atom Bank to attract and hire the best talent UK wide and in an unprecedented UK marketplace where the tech skill s shortage is cited as the greatest problem to solve by the TIC signatories, Atom Bank is establishing itself as an Employer of Choice and seeing their applicant attraction rates sky-rocket, because they are putting their staff at the heart of everything they do.
  3. Combattlng Proximity Blas

    Adam Mitchell led the conversation on combatting proximity bi as. NatWest takes action to support individuals in their organisation so they can make better decisions and be more inclusive. By rolling out coaching and training for their senior managers and recruitment staff, they don’t see people’s differences!s as anything but an opportunity.

    David Prezzano, went one step further by clarifying that some middle managers just assumed that all of their reports would be just as enthusiastic to return to office/hybrid working as much as they were themselves. After conducting multiple inclusion surveys to ascertain under which circumstances individual employees would be comfortable to return to the office, HP were able to create a framework around working models for each individual, driving best practice.
  1. Employees Network’s support and promote lnclusion and diversity and amplify the voices of their members. This has given rise to a greater diversity in internal applications across our panel.
  2. HP UK and Ireland are transforming their working spaces as they are using their office spaces In different ways.

    HP are creating more collaboration spaces for teams/cohorts to work together and less cubes as the trend now is for people to collaborate in the office, rather than work independently from the office.

The panel shared great initiatives and learnings from their respective organisations, what is clear from them all is that you need to up your communication game in the f0<m of focus groups and surveys around best w0<ki ng practices to suit each individual. Asking questions and measuring, asking for feedback and supporting your staff along the journey means that according to Anne-Marie, “we can tackle anything”.

Hybrid/remote working is certainly here to stay, but the key is to empower your staff to choose what this looks like for them as an individual, complex human being. Remove the barriers, remove the bias. remove the outdated preconceived ideas of what the working world “‘should” look like and you will open yourself up to a whole new channel through which you can speak to and engage with incredible talent.


Author: Cresslda Stephenson, Director EdenChase Associates

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