Creating an empowering culture is important for every business. And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting that culture and finding new ways to keep people connected, engaged, and healthy becomes even more essential.
Earlier this year, the Workplace Services team launched several initiatives for ServiceNow employees in the EMEA region, allowing them to come together, learn something new and build their networks.
We had also invested in our main office workspaces, including our sites in Staines and Dublin, to create amazing settings to inspire creativity and boost productivity.
But the dramatic, almost immediate, shift to working from home in March 2020 meant we had to pivot quickly to adapt our strategy.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe, Workplace Services had to ensure the initiatives we introduced didn’t stop just because our people weren’t physically present.
So, we transferred them online, using video calls, our internal social media network, webinars and more. We offered HIIT classes and Yoga, socials and quizzes, and educational sessions, like how to work from home effectively and how to deal with anxiety.
We also embraced delivering support services remotely throughout the lockdown period. Through virtual hangouts, employees can raise queries or ask for help with any aspect of their work set up.
There is now greater collaboration with our IT colleagues as well, despite being separated physically, as we run joint employee support sessions and meet online regularly to align our programs.
An unexpected up-side
In many ways, the move to virtual service has been incredibly positive, reinforcing our commitment to creating a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
We’ve not only kept our initiatives going; we’ve made them much more accessible, which is evident in the large number of signups. The barriers have been removed for those who couldn’t participate because they either weren’t in a ServiceNow office, had to get home to family, or didn’t want to exercise in front of others.
The social sessions are very popular and are bringing together people from across the ServiceNow EMEA workforce — business leaders, colleagues from different departments, and employees from various countries, for instance — often for the first time.
Our quiz nights are a great example. They have become household affairs, with employees bringing their families and friends online -- with the promise of a pizza delivery for the winning team proving to be a great incentive!
Being apart has, in fact, brought us together in a way we hadn’t achieved before.
A resounding success
The response from employees has been immensely positive. They are participating in activities they wouldn’t have previously and connecting in novel ways with colleagues from across the region.
I’m proud of our team for adapting so quickly by turning an extremely complex and difficult situation into an opportunity to drive positive changes. Our success really comes down to four key factors:
- Clarity: We’ve been very transparent in our communication with employees on what we want to achieve and the initiatives we are running. Everyone is clear on what we can offer and how they can get involved.
- Proactivity: We acted quickly to transfer the activities program online, promote the new approach company-wide and look for input and feedback to drive continuous improvements.
- Structure: We launched new initiatives or transferred existing ones online thoughtfully. Although actioned quickly, our approach was considered and planned, ensuring support from senior management. Buy-in from my team was secured to drive the delivery.
- Agility: Though guided by our North Star, we also know we must be flexible. The COVID-19 crisis is continually changing how we live and work, so we make sure we can tweak things as needed. A ‘one size fits all’ approach simply won’t work, so we take a global framework but empower delivery locally.
Looking to the future
Our pivot to a digital program was essential to support our remote workforce, but we are also starting to plan our eventual return-to-work strategy.
We’ll continue to run virtual sessions even after some employees return to a ServiceNow office, but we’ll also start new initiatives at our sites, including a garden community for our green-fingered colleagues in Staines.
This period has taught us just how important inclusion and belonging are within an organization. By evolving our Workplace Services program, we will continue to make work better for our own employees throughout and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
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