“Everything’s gonna change now, isn’t it?” said Hermione at the end of the 4th Harry Potter movie. And it has been changed for them and for all of us. First, the digital revolution is a continuous change. It is changing the way we communicate, shop, learn, travel, play and of course the way we work. And prepared us for another big challenge: the 2020 COVID pandemic.
Felicia Georgescu, Head of Human Resources and CSR, Sodexo BRS Romania
In 1859, Charles Darwin told us that those species that adapt best to their changing environment have the best chance of surviving, while those who do not adapt do not make it. To quote Darwin: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” If we ever wondered if there was a quote worth framing, this is it.
But crisis moments also present opportunities: makes us to better use the technology and gives us a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but we better be agile learners and ready to adapt.
At Sodexo, we have started our transformation some time ago and this helped us to faster adapt to the 2020 COVID pandemic. It started with a mindset change. This is the most difficult step. It took us time to disconnect the successful past from the uncertain future and build the present. We have a new business model, new ways of working, new competencies, new leadership approach, while our core values are the same: team spirit, progress spirit and service spirit.
Back in 2020, when the lockdown has been imposed almost everywhere, we were prepared to face this new challenge. Our employees were well equipped to eventually work from any place: laptops, mobile phones, digital processes, collaborative working platforms. We benefited from the digital transformation started years ago, from the desire to be able to deliver the best services. We trusted each other and our core values made us to keep the business running for our clients and for our employees.
And we constantly adapt to change: new health and safety rules when working from the office, regular tests for those who could not work remote, paid free day for vaccination.
Some time ago, we rediscussed how to work from now on. We asked all our colleagues about the best way to move forward. We did that in Peakon, our feedback tool, used weekly and they told us that while it is convenient to work remote, the face-to-face human connection is something they miss. There is no surprise, since more than 90% of human communication consists of body language. Also, face-to-face interactions provide a better opportunity for real and valuable engagement, without the distractions that communicating remotely can bring.
Therefore, together we choose a hybrid way of working. It is not driven by the number of days in the office, neither by attendance. It is more about the reason you should come in the office. It is a time of reconnection not a daily routine. We give flexibility, while reinforcing the sense of belonging to Sodexo team. Employees can choose the most appropriate working pattern for a better work-life balance. At the same time, we reinforced the need of a face-to-face interaction through various experiences: meeting my manager, meeting my team, onboarding of the new employees, workshops, trainings, brainstorming sessions. This new way of working is based on trust. The trust we have in each other to continue to do our best, to bring our contribution and fulfill our collective ambition to bring to life a personalized employee experience at work & beyond. And this is part of our company values.
We do not come to the office just to work, to send e-mails, to perform tasks, but to reconnect with people, to boost our feedback culture, to protect our need to belonging to something bigger and more important than ourselves. Our space shift from working space to connecting space.
With these new ways of working, 2021 is the beginning of a new leadership era. It forces us to fundamentally rethink how we work and lead. Leaders who embrace change as an opportunity, will help their people and business succeed. Leaders who will drive by purpose and show empathy to their teams, will reshape our organizational culture, and empower employees for success. There is a very real need to incorporate more ongoing emotional support and this will reshape the way we lead our people in the future.
At Sodexo, we trust people and we embrace changes as they come. Because VUCA it’s here to stay!