COVID-19 is bringing about a radical transformation to the workplace- the way we work, and the way we even think about work. With a huge proportion of the global workforce now operating remotely, organizations are rethinking everything from the physical workplace to the technology to social interaction to the definition of productivity. What does the new normal look like? How will the employee experience of employees be different in the post-COVID workplace compared to before?
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Pallavi Tyagi, CHRO-India, Capgemini, shares what the new normal will look like at Capgemini.
What are some of the changes which Capgemini has introduced in the workplace as lockdown comes to an end?
At Capgemini, our employee’s safety and well-being is our highest priority. Adhering to the stringent guidelines laid down by organizations such as WHO, MHA, ASHRAE, etc., we have prepared our office premises where our employees have started coming. We have also ensured social distancing in common areas like cafeteria and company transport to ensure a safe return of our employees in our office premises. Before reopening our offices, we will sanitize all our offices per the WHO guidelines. We have also launched a video communication through an animated video with Ally – our Workplace Services Assistant to showcase the measures taken by Capgemini to assure our employees and their families about their safety measures on returning to the office.
At Capgemini, we have developed a unique self-declaration application called ‘Namaste Capgemini’, to ensure only a pre-defined number of employees are allowed access to office premises, as per our phased approach to return to the office and in line with the Government guidelines.
This app authorizes employees to return to office based on different parameters like location traveled from, recent travel history, physical health, and other defined criteria. After entering these details, the app will authorize the employee to either return to the office or continue work from home. If the app authorizes return to the office, the employee will need to scan a QR code in the app at the entry of the office premise and it will generate a mandatory digital pass valid for a day. Every employee will have to log in to the app and declare their good health for every day of their commute to the office. Enabled with our organizational green standards, this app takes advantage of the latest smart-phone technology and creates a paper-free, digital access control system. This app will be both iOS and Android enabled.
All these employees and any authorized visitors will need to go through temperature screening, maintain social distance in all common areas, use sanitizers, and follow all protocols. Our company transport will be fully sanitized and will ensure enough distance between employees traveling them as per the guidelines to keep our employees safe and healthy. We are also sharing best practices with our housekeeping and facilities/support staff on maintaining health and hygiene using videos and via demonstration. In addition, we will give masks to all employees who will be coming to the office and all support/ housekeeping staff will continue to wear masks and gloves. We have set up isolation rooms at all our offices that are intended to be opened after the lockdown as an added precaution and have an ambulance on standby per our regular Health and Safety protocol.
What percentage of the workforce has been brought back to the office? How was that decided?
We have curated a phase-wise plan to get back our employees to work. In phase 1 of opening our offices, we have started bringing less than 5 percent of employees to our offices in Bangalore, Pune, and Noida. These include employees working on critical projects or those unable to work from home due to certain client security guidelines. Depending on the Government guidelines, we will increase this number gradually to 25-30% over the next couple of weeks. Our other offices will open shortly.
How will HR ensure that people working from home do not miss out on the same employee experience as the office?
Today almost 95% of our client billable employees are already working from home. We took proactive steps to enable work from home for our team members jointly in consultation with our clients even before the lockdown started. Considering this is a relatively new way of delivering services to clients, we value our employees’ efforts that they put together for business continuity.
We have launched structured employee wellbeing and employee engagement programs in order to keep the morale and spirits of our employees high while working from home. Also, staying connected with employees becomes very crucial while working remotely. As part of an innovative employee engagement program, we have launched ‘Capgemini Bigg Bosss challenge’ where employees along with their family or friends can participate in exciting series of tasks and contests such as a creativity challenge, showcasing the unique talent of your family or friend or an online quiz contest, among others. These activities are a great way to help employees stay connected virtually with the organization and bring in the fun element while doing so. Nearly 60,000 employees have been engaged through this Pan India level program. Besides these, there are other programs like “Re-vive in Five” where we reach out to the entire team with a topic other than work every day – wellbeing, productivity improvement, health to help spread positivity and team bonding.
We also launched the 21 Day Habit Challenge, a virtual program designed to engage with employees on activities other than day-to-day work and to keep employee spirits up during this time. Through this program, each individual participant cultivates a positive habit in a span of 21 days. This program aids in developing a positive mind-set and translates it into constructive utilization of time and energy in this pandemic crisis. The program started on April 2nd and so far, we have seen engagement with nearly 15,000 employees.
Our leaders share their work from home experience through a Podcast series called as ‘Candid Connect’, where they talk to employees on a range of topics like passion and motivation, the experience of remote working, things our leaders do at home, stories of people who have shaped their careers and new skills developed.
We recently completed our CLAP (Come Let’s Appreciate) Initiative where employees could use digital cards to appreciate their colleagues for going the extra mile during these times. Over 30,000 employees leveraged this platform.
What are some of the challenges that Capgemini is facing while the majority workforce operates from home?
Even before the COVID-19 world, innovation, collaboration, and keeping the client at the heart of every decision was always key to the overall growth of the organization. In the present situation and moving forward, there will be an enhanced focus on health, safety, and security.
We at Capgemini have a higher percentage of young professionals and typically they stay away from their families. There is an emphasis on making them feel part of the Capgemini family by maintaining regular communication through our leaders, creating different virtual platforms to engage with them on fun activities, and providing them emotional support with the help of external experts.
There is a need to create a greater sense of belonging and aligning employees with the ethos of the organization while working remotely.
What are some of the trends that will become the norm in the post-COVID workplace in the coming six months?
With virtual working becoming the new normal in the post-COVID workplace, organizations now not only need to efficiently work remotely but also need to excel at virtual working. We will see a greater trend towards team collaboration and effective use of digital tools to maintain productivity while working remotely.
Placing trust in employees, providing autonomy and accountability will be a very important element for managers to lead effectively in a virtual environment.
It requires encouraging a mindset and culture of carrying on tasks with minimum supervision. Emotional intelligence (EI) for leaders and line managers will assume a new criticality in the post-COVID workplace. Managing a remote workforce will require empathy and authenticity in every communication.
How will the employee experience of employees be different in the post-COVID workplace compared to before?
This global pandemic has changed the way businesses think and operate. Considering that remote working can be a viable option for many, in the post-COVID world we are going to see the future of work change more quickly than we might have predicted before. Besides enhanced employee engagement programs and well-being initiatives, there will be greater emphasis on enabling skilling programs with new and innovative means in order to make the learning process more agile.
At Capgemini, we have already started preparing ourselves to adapt to this new way of working. To continue our upskilling and reskilling program, we have launched Next, our new state-of-the-art learning platform. This AI-driven platform recommends personalized microlearning from renowned content providers such as Pluralsight, Harvard, Coursera, Microsoft Learn, Service Now, and many others. The platform not only provides employees the learning content which they are looking for but enables Capgemini to push structured learning using specific skill plans and pathways. This new learning platform helps build skills anytime and from anywhere - whether the employee is at home, at a client location, at the Capgemini campus, or traveling.
With respect to new joiners, all our onboarding process has gone virtual with nearly 1,800 new recruits on-boarded virtually.
We have also launched a buddy program, where the new hire is assigned an employee of the same business unit as ‘buddy’ who can help the new joiner for the first few months with general queries that are not related to work deliverables.