18 July 2022

People V Culture: How the Great Reset has disrupted HR departments

By Erin Jakubans – Head of People & Culture

Lately everyone is talking about the Great Reset: the current post COVID shake-up of people, processes and technology we’re seeing right across the business landscape. Over the last two years we’ve seen existing workforce trends accelerated and new ones emerge. It’s been a very interesting and challenging time to be a senior People and Culture (P&C) practitioner.

The role of P&C teams is broadly self-explanatory but the goalposts are shifting significantly for this business function as the world resets. Firstly, there are the humans who power the company. People looking for flexibility, autonomy, convenience and easier ways to balance business and life.

Read more: Dial up the autonomy and the flexibility will follow in your hybrid digital workplace

Meanwhile, the existing ethos and ‘ways of doing things’, for many of us, have been completely blown out of the water over the past two years. So how do you mesh each side of this equation into one happy, post-pandemic working environment?

There is no single blueprint for organisational success but, the following six principles will help you design and implement a unique future workplace strategy that is suited to your organisation.

  1. Know what you’re trying to achieve, and communicate it clearly.

Even prior to the pandemic, NEXTDC’s leadership has always been very transparent about the belief that “work is something we do, not somewhere we go”. Where you work and how you work are two very different things.

This belief shapes how we work together. What matters most is being able to work productively and safely in alignment with our values.

We simply want to provide our people with the flexibility to contribute in a meaningful way and to enable them to do their best work.

  1. Know and understand your workforce.

It’s a simple principle, but the devil is in the detail! There is no one-size-fits-all solution to any of this, because every workplace is different.

Like so many organisations, we have different segments within our workforce, so the meaning of flexibility and autonomy is defined by the nature of the role. For example, some roles are by nature ‘on site’ – particularly technicians and customer servants who work within our data centre facilities. We are a 24x7 business managing critical infrastructure for customers all day, every day.

However, other parts of our workforce can easily be productive in their roles when they work from home. It’s important to understand what flexibility and autonomy mean to these different workforce segments. Although this throws up its own challenge: how do you keep the various groups connected without isolating either one?

  1. Forget employee experience – candidates want life experience.

Prior to the pandemic, we all spoke about offering the best ‘employee experience’. I think those days are behind us. We now need to be tuned into offering employees and candidates ‘life experience’.

This means thinking more holistically about what you can do to optimise the experience both at work, and at home. For many ‘in-demand’ roles, candidates have multiple employment options. Their choice will come down to your understanding of this, and ability to accommodate it.

  1. Autonomy, connection, culture: Finding balance.

When it comes to staying connected, there has to be a tradeoff between individual freedom/autonomy, as well as maintaining hard-earned connection and culture. When people are coming into the office less, how do you keep that culture alive? Both are important aspects of employer value propositions, and one shouldn’t come at the expense of the other.

It helps if you have a strong vision, purpose and values, and leadership committed to having teams aligned to them, no matter where they are. Having the right tools and channels, underpinned by secure, reliable digital infrastructure, also goes a long way to ensure people feel connected.

And while the digital channels are important, don’t forget to include a mix of ‘low fi’ and offline opportunities to connect. For me, nothing beats the humble coffee meeting to catch up on anything you’ve missed!

  1. Bring it all together by empowering your managers.

There’s a lot to focus on, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. Core to success here is all about empowering your managers to support their teams.

Therefore, we’ve developed guidelines, rather than policies and procedures to help support our managers. It’s about empowering them to lead, rather than telling them what they can and can’t do.

  1. The era of superteams is coming.

The role of technology in the future workplace extends far beyond the application of cloud and collaboration tools. We are approaching the era of what Deloitte calls superteams – where technology is viewed as a team member and collaborator, rather than merely a tool and enabler.

Essentially, a superteam is where leaders have paired people with technology (such as artificial intelligence) in more strategic and natural ways. By building off each other’s strengths, superteams can play an important role across the organisation.

It’s very early days for this particular trend, but we do know that now is the time to ensure your digital infrastructure is ready to support your organisation’s superteams of tomorrow.

At NEXTDC, it is our great privilege to work in partnership with many leading organisations. Together we are navigating the challenges and opportunities of the Great Reset. Download our new report to better understand these important themes.

Or, reach out to us and we’ll help you press the reset button on your digital infrastructure strategy.