As we enter 2022 with a fundamentally transformed view of work, leaders are intensifying their efforts to tighten the loose ends when it comes to employee experience. They are doing so by listening to their employees more than ever, by demonstrating empathy, investing in inclusiveness and agility.
“In a true sense, workplaces are becoming social enterprises where the intent is on enabling employees to be their best selves, providing an ecosystem with employee experience at the center,” said Divya Garg, Head of Human Resource, Uber India South Asia, in an interview with us.
Uber’s mantra for the new world of work
Continuing to forecast and adapt to how people are living and working as individuals and pivoting to employee needs has been the mantra at Uber.
Let us zoom into the hybrid working model as an example of workplace innovations.
“At Uber, we introduced our Return to Office approach in the month of April this year and it has met with a great response from employees,” shared Divya.
Within this hybrid work approach, Uber is enabling its employees to have more flexibility on their preferred office location, choosing from a list of dedicated team hubs.
Secondly, the employees working in offices have been asked to spend at least 50 per cent of their time there on a monthly basis. This can be 3 days one week and 2 days the next week, or 5 days one week and 0 days the next week, depending on what works best for the employee and their team.
There is one exception to this. For up to four weeks a year, employees are free to enjoy a change of scenery, including across state and country borders, so long as they continue to work hours that overlap with their team.
“While we still believe in the value of in-person collaboration, we also value our employees having the choice to decide where they want to work while they’re not in the office. So if they’re spending half their time in the office, they can spend the other half wherever—working from home, working from a relative’s home, or taking a trip and extending their time there to work remotely,” said Divya.
Lastly, Uber will provide more flexibility for some employees to be fully remote, acknowledging that certain jobs can be successful without being in an office.
Divya said, “Based on current conditions, we are targeting January 10, 2022 as the date when we’ll have our offices open to welcome non-remote employees to spend 50 per cent of their time there, as per our hybrid work approach.”
A dedicated focus on well-being & creating a social enterprise
COVID has presented us with unprecedented situations which we have never experienced or dealt with before. Employees and people, in general, have gone through phases of an unknown environment. They are looking for coping mechanisms - in situations not encountered before what should the response be.
Divya acknowledged that loss of informal connections at work has emerged as a challenge. Organisations are now looked at as social enterprises that provide individuals, not just a career and cause but also a community, a sense of belonging.
“As the work model moved to virtual, organisations and individuals alike pivoted to keep up the strength of community at work. However, the loss of informal connections set in the virtual world, making the work transactional and impacting the emotional well-being of individuals,” said Divya.
Further, with automation, human work now emphasises uniquely human skills. With repeatable work being automated, individuals bring their authentic selves to work, pivoting to unique strengths each possesses.
For Divya, ‘enabling individuals to bring their best selves to work is what summarises well-being challenges in today’s times of perpetual disruption.’
Wellness has become a culture collision, bringing teams together
Well-being is no longer adjacent to work, something organisations are obligated towards. “It is now front and center to how we experience a workplace, it is now the core element of how the work is structured,” added Divya.
From supporting employees via medical insurance to now enabling employees to build and lead a healthy lifestyle, organisations have an involved role to play.
When looking at well-being, Divya recommends it is not to be read the same as mental health. Organisations should consider all building blocks of well-being, the entire spectrum which includes:
- Movement/physical exercise
- Emotional well-being
Integrating each of these elements into how we work and live is the key to promoting employee well-being as a happier, healthier community.
Embedding well-being in the flow of work
There is no solution or execution without technology today.
When orgnanisations went virtual or now when the slowly transition to being hybrid, workflows and processes continue to adapt and seamlessly so for employees. However, Divya believes it is critical that leaders are mindful of the fatigue which this evolving technology-enabled workplace brings with it.
As much of the business is now online, company-wide No Meeting Mondays were introduced at Uber to cut down and address the dreaded Zoom fatigue. The company is also providing complete flexibility to employees to build their own schedules. In a bid to enable employees to spend more time with family and attend to emergencies, especially during the stressful times amidst the second wave of the pandemic, Uber introduced the concept of ‘wellness holidays’ too, giving a much-needed break to employees every last Friday of the month for that period.
In addition to providing support to employees and their families through financial, medical and mental well-being solutions, Uber also introdcued a leave and time off policy to cover for covid related illness of self or for caregiving responsibility for family members.
Further using technology as an enabler for employee wellness, Uber uses various solutions from simple relaxation and mindfulness apps, to advanced machine learning technologies that can lead to enhanced organisational performance.
Divya said, “Employee wellness is at the core of our workflows and processes and we have implemented several measures to ensure employees feel seen, supported and understood during these challenging times,
Further with the pandemic far from gone, while Uber continues its experiment with hybrid work in the upcoming year, it also focuses on employee safety and holistic wellness.
Get a chance to meet Divya at People Matters Workforce Productivity Conference and learn how to redefine productivity in a manner that aligns employee expectations with the overarching financial goals. Click here to learn more about the conference.