“The collaborative experience in times of confinement”, interview with Frédéric Balletti, KPAM

Containment, and then reconfinement, have profoundly shaken theemployee experience, and the relationship of employees to work. To understand the extent of the impact of the health crisis on working conditions, KPAM publishes ” Work after. Chapter One. ». In particular, the study highlights that this period is not a parenthesis outside normality, but rather the beginning of a new approach to work, with new attitudes and demands. In this sense, it highlights the need for companies to evolve their organizational and managerial practices. On this occasion, BORDEAUX Business met with Frédéric Balletti, Director KPAM-RH Experience Collaborator.

How was the first containment experienced by the employees? How did it impact the collaborative experience?

The first point is that the experience is very nuanced because the same moments can be experienced differently depending on the people. It was nuanced according to several criteria. The first was the maturity of the company vis-à-vis telework. Some were already advanced and had already integrated telework for more than a decade. This meant that employees were properly equipped in the home office: ergonomic seat, connection, adequate equipment. And on the other the less advanced companies for whom it was more complicated. For example, we had testimony from people who had to pick up their central unit from the office and take it home. In the study, we can put scores on what people say, what it matters to them or not. On this subject, we had very large differences in experience score: from -20 to 9.

employees in videoconference telework maintaining social link
Communication tools and new technologies make telecommuting more fluid and flexible.

A second very important point, we will talk a lot about it, is the quality of the relationship with the managers. On the one hand, we find managers who rely on trust and autonomy who have been able to reproduce the operation in telework. They were also managers who were available. On the other hand, we have the management by the control that has been strengthened. I had testimonies from employees who received a text message as soon as they left their work station if only to go to the toilet. Fortunately, others realized that the teams knew how to do well and changed their management method in real time.

It’s a new way of working. There are bound to be habits to take about how you organize it, how you start a project remotely, how you organize yourself at home. Those who were less accustomed to telecommuting had a problem especially with disconnection,with working time, to end the day. In telework, there are no more sass, the workplace becomes the place of life.

We also have questions about the workspace and comfort. Also related to the family situation and the children at home. At the same time, an employee was a parent, teacher, cook, cleaning worker… We saw some companies where it was taken into account and others where not at all, which became a source of stress.

In addition to these considerations, telework has been experienced very well by employees, especially in large cities, because it will have saved them time to transport to do something else with their time. They saw it as a release of time and stress.

There is yet another topic, and of course it is the social link. Have companies managed to maintain it? There has been a lot of talk about seeing people on videoconference. On the leadership side, containment has also been an opportunity for some awareness. I will give the example of a call center where the leaders found themselves spending the whole day with a helmet and realized the importance of having the right equipment, comfortable and reliable, to do their job well.

It also refers to the question of whether or not the proposed work tools are suitable for telework. Modern tools have made it possible to live telework well. However, we have seen the tendency of employees to use market tools. This tends to drive security directions crazy because no flow control. But these technologies are also much more fluid than the old tools.

This KPAM study revealed a nuanced collaborative experience based on many factors. The question for companies now is how to take into account the uniqueness of experience to offer the best working environment to its employees.

What new and sustainable expectations has crisis management revealed?

On expectations, as happened brutally, we witnessed with surprise the change in the hierarchy of needs. From now on, the basis is security. Am I going to keep my job? Am I going to stay healthy? At the same time, this has exacerbated the growing need for meaning. People have always talked about it but in a flat way (CSR, ecology, society…). It was not a very intense speech until the confinement. During the first, we reached levels of speech intensity never reached before. How is my job useful? Does the company have an interest in society?

In a way, it was a moment of truth for businesses. We talk about reason to be at all times. We talk about “why” everywhere. Businesses have become mission-going companies. The covid comes at a time when companies have made great communication around their raison d’être. The covid was the perfect typical case for observing congruence, coherence between subject and speech. Some companies remain aligned, some are next door. This is a major issue for employees. As a result, new questions are taking up more and more space. Do I want to be in a company that doesn’t protect me in case of difficulty? I take the bet that we will see a migration of skills and employees to the companies that participated in the collective effort.

Businessman fields business value company
Long-term telework is not improvised. It means having a suitable workspace at home. More than 20% of employees put this topic at the heart of the issue.

The second open subject refers to the singularity of the collaborative experience. The ability of the company to take into account that we are all unique, that we have different needs. Can the inter-perise take into account that I am a single parent? Does it take into account that I am a helping employee and that I take care of my sick relative on a daily basis? I worked on this four years ago. It was then revealed that one in six employees was a caregiver but did not talk about it. Work-time layout, green number… He has opportunities to go with them. It’s just as complex as looking after your children.

In taking into account the singularity, there is also comfort at home and the quality of work. In large cities in particular, we have a wide range of employees who live in a studio. This is an opportunity for companies to study the issue of third places. Some have already spent time there to offer places closer to people for those who do not have the capacity to telework.

Finally, the third topic that emerges, and not least, is the question of fluidity for the quality of the collaborative experience. To do this, companies need to invest in technologies and tools. Of course, at the heart of the subject is computer security and data. But teams are waiting for easy-to-handle, reliable tools with a support service that works too.

In general, this period pushes us to rethink the whole collaborative orientation. Redesigning workspaces, organisation, work tools… To do this, the employee must be included in the reflection. This is what you do when you do the UX (user experience or user experience). That’s when the corporate culture comes in. Executives need to ask themselves whether what they are going to put in place is in line with the corporate culture, with the way they operate in-house. We also come back to the question of meaning and ethics, of congruence.

In itself, all of this has a direct impact on the employer brand. We know that the lack of coherence between discourse and reality is one of the main reasons for the loss of recruits before 3 months. Work on the collaborative experience begins at this stage. It also questions the premise that shows the lack of loyalty of the new generations. What if it was rather the lie about the product the worry?

How does telework experienced during the crisis inform the organization of tomorrow’s work?

The flexibility of work has become non-negotiable now. Many employees are in the process of making a mix between telework and on-site work. The central issue remains sociability. Following the first confinement, some organizations have gone into 100% telework. They are currently being tested on this new scheme.

With telework came other considerations, such as the flexibility to organize your day as one wishes. This caught HR and managers by surprise. “Thework is going to be done but I organize myself as I want on the 24 hours that make up the day”. This flexibility of agenda allows you to take time for something else. The employee can now inject personal moments into the daily life while being able to do his job.

Inevitably, for this to work, we need confidence in the company and autonomy. This means reorganizing companies, empowering employees to become self-sufficient. It’s a lot of work. We will have to go on goals to accomplish the activity rather than on attendance objectives. Opposing French presenteeism to efficiency. It’s a big subject because it’s a cultural issue.

The work balance in the office/ telecommuting also involves reviewing your job management. What activity do I do at home and what activity do I do at work? At home, you can go on missions that require concentration. I no longer have the noise of open space. On the other hand, it is more complicated to launch new projects remotely. There are still many organizations that need to see each other to start projects. In that case, you might as well come to the office. On the other hand, if it’s for meetings, you can do it from home.

All this echoes the question of the organization of the workspaces of tomorrow. What do I need to do to make people want to come to work? Social link, project launch, convivial moments… How to differentiate between the presenter and the distance? Often, the spontaneous speeches of managers tell us that they do not know how to manage remotely. It’s normal, it’s not improvised. I think that quickly, training on remote team animation will become mandatory. Similarly, employees will have to be trained to work remotely. We must not forget that we must accompany people in these new organizations. If only to allow them to find a work/personal life balance.

At the same time, other questions arise, such as the choice of place to live. Do you have to work close to the workplace or can you live several hundred kilometres away and come back to work once a month?

experience collaborator containment telework workplace
Employees are increasingly demanding flexible schedules and a balance between telecommuting and on-site work.

Has the approach of companies for this second containment evolved? Do the teachings of the former seem to have been taken into account to improve the collaborative experience? What impact is this new containment likely to have on the teams?

This containment is very different from the first. First, for the second, people go to work. Some companies have imposed tight-hearted telecommuting. We even have cases where employees meet at home to keep in touch with them. There is a real development of “clandestine telework”. In fact, the subject of confinement conflicts with the French culture of seeing each other. These new features are the result of the trauma of the first confinement. We even have some companies that strongly oppose telecommuting.

I was with leaders at a remote meeting. They told me that the day after the announcement of the confinement 30% of the employees applied for a waiver to come to the office. This is really an important subject to be heard. We need to see people and have a suitable workspace.

Another difference with the first containment: the children are in school so it’s easier to telework.

Now, have they taken into account the lessons of the first… It’s still very nuanced. We would need a new study to get feedback from this new chapter.

In any case, the impact for teams differs in large companies and in small ones. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it is often very painful. Teams are anxious about whether they will keep their jobs or not. In large companies, the stakes depend on the company’s priorities. On the one hand, some seek above all to protect their employees, on the other is those who reduce their workforce. I sincerely believe that in the nearest we will know which companies have played the game and which have not. We “risk” seeing the emergence of matrixes of companies where we should not go.

We always remember the people who were there and those who turned their backs on us.

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