Dimple Kaloya is the Senior Vice President and Regional Head of HR Consulting at HSBC Operations, Services, and Technology Centers. She leads HSBC’s strategic people priorities for over 60,000 employees. She is an experienced HR leader who has worked across industry and consulting with a specific focus on aligning people's strategy to business strategy. In an interaction with People Matters, she spoke about the Hybrid workplace at a stretch and why this model is here to stay.
What are your thoughts on the concept of a Hybrid workplace?
The hybrid workplace in the post-COVID 19 will be the new normal. It’s a model that combines WFH (remote working) and office time. Organizations are crafting their own hybrid model depending upon business requirements. Some companies allow employees to work from anywhere for 3 weeks and be present in the office for one week. Others, want employees to meet only during the launch of important projects.
We at HSBC are certainly evaluating all options and working on the segmentation of our workforce between a few categories such as fully working from home, partially working from, and full office employees.
Employers have started to realize that employees are just as productive from home as they would have been in the office. Besides increased productivity, organizations are saving substantial capital on real-estate that can be utilized for technology upgrades and other business requirements. The model focuses on acquiring critical skills that provide a competitive advantage and can be remotely located in a low-cost location. A hybrid workplace is a win-win for both concerned parties. Employees enjoy freedom and flexibility, employers concentrate only on the end result irrespective of the hours that the employees spend on the job. Whatever hybrid model an organization may choose, fact remains that this model is here to stay. Office real estate will shrink, employees will expect more from employers, trust and transparency will rule, employee’s well-being, work-life balance, organizational progress, and personal career progress will be the by-products of the hybrid model.
What are some of the challenges you foresee in implementing a hybrid workplace?
Hybrid working is an amalgamation of two work cultures in a single organization. Organizations with a hybrid system will need to create a common work culture, generate social cohesion, and build shared trust. Leadership will have to be redefined, sense of belonging, shared responsibility, common goal setting, and implementation of a culture that inspires all employees to do their best — will be a few of the hurdles that need to be addressed in its first phase of implementation.
To sustain long-term hybrid model organizations we will need a strong IT foundation — technology strategy that will evolve for the future and support flexible working between office, home, and remote locations. State-of-the-art cybersecurity, infrastructure support to employees, BYOD culture, tools to increase remote connection and collaboration will have to be redesigned. Policy changes/ common policies supporting WFH and WFO will need to be implemented.
With complete financial and economic recovery appearing still distant, organizations will need to keep cost control measures in effect. With that background, how do you see cost structures impacting a hybrid workforce?
With liquidity being a major challenge, the current scenario has created strong avenues for organizations to save. HR leaders are now geared up to re-think and redesign people's management, create new roles, merge roles and positions, and work on ways to optimize capital and people. Additionally, HR is joining hands with the real estate to drive a reduction in real estate footprint. Culminating from all of the above will be reduced operational costs. I see eventually this cost-saving to be channelized to people's agendas such as well-being, engagement, employee experience, and such initiatives.
What kind of a workplace model are you considering for your organization? Do you foresee any major changes?
We are certainly looking at the Hybrid model. Whilst this model has existed in pockets of our organization – we are now looking to formalize this. Our future of work program caters to two broad elements, the here and now related to the Covid crisis and the sustainable long term plan to make sure we use Covid 19 as an opportunity to move towards the contemporary practices and solutions for our employees. In the hybrid approach, we are working hand and glove with business to identify roles that can be permanent work from home to permanent has to be in office – we are calling this the employee segmentation approach. This will help us then custom design policy and practices which may be different for the range of our employee segments.
We also acknowledge that during the crisis providing the right level of infrastructure support to work from home has been key and in light of this, we have offered a $200 one-time benefit to all permanent staff to set up a work from home infrastructure. Additionally, there has been a huge focus on well-being and engagement to make sure employees are taking care of their health during the crisis, and managers and leaders find the right tools for continuous engagement.
From a long-term perspective, we are looking at a variety of things from future skills to performance management, sustainable policies aligned to new age labor laws, and how does the new normal change the way the employee-employer contract is perceived.
How are you thinking about employee experience in a hybrid workplace?
Employee experience constitutes the entire journey — from pre-hire to post-exit interactions. Organizations in the future will have to adopt a partnership model where employees lead the growth not forsaking their personal career progression. Trust and transparency will be at the core of this new partnership. Organizations will have to be more responsible for their employees.
In a hybrid environment, employee experience will be evaluated on policies that cater to an employee’s overall well-being, opportunities for professional and educational advancement, engagement and satisfaction, quality healthcare benefits, flexible work schedules, fair labor practices, safe work environment, and a place where employees share a common goal. The experience will be rated more in terms of a culture that promotes ‘WE and US’ rather than ‘I.
We at HSBC are on a journey for augmenting our employee experience and are taking baby steps for a number of years now. The core of this journey has been the transformation of our HR systems and infrastructure. Understandably, the global organization that we are – there are a number of regional or in-country legislation that drive technology usage which has often created patchworks in our systems to solve the current problem at hand. Whilst our core systems are very contemporary we are keen to move away from the patchwork which is a key disruptor to our employee experience. This will further be accelerated as we segment our workforce to work permanently from home.
What are some successful workplace practices that you would like to continue once-remote work is over?
The new workplace requires un-learning old practices and structures and discovering new ways of communicating and thinking. Some of the best approaches will be as below.
- Aiding employees to develop skills that will endure for life
- Driving Employee Experience and Engagement
- Prioritizing Digital Skills
- Data Driven Decisions
- Faster, Better, Simpler HR Technology
- Transparent communication
- A culture where the team rules and share the same goals
- Employee well-being and happiness at work
- Diversity and inclusiveness
- Agile and flexible approach to leadership
What capabilities or skills would you like to see in prospective candidates for a hybrid future?
Organizations are increasingly focusing on employees who are more ‘Human’ and have a strong code of conduct. Soft skills such as communication, empathy, teamwork, flexibility is much needed. Candidates should also have transportable skills, ready to learn, re-learn and un-learn, be agile, have the ability to work on shared goals, open to constructive feedback, and is ready to voice positive feedback are preferred.
Organizations look for team members who are not ‘boxed’ and think beyond their immediate job or role and promote fluidity across wider teams. With AI dominating the workplace candidate will need to be data-driven, familiar with technology and digital tools. The hybrid workplace has created hybrid positions that require hybrid employees — employees who not only possess skills that are needed for their current role but are ready to un-learn, shift or add new roles and responsibilities as per business demands. Employees hungry for more, ready to learn, and grow with the company will always be preferred.