Inclusivity within a corporation directly affects employee well-being. In this episode, Marta Lima and Sabine Ehm discuss how to bring people together within the digital workplace experience.
Our employee well-being in the workplace expert guest
Marta Lima is the innovation manager at Vodaphone and focuses on bettering the digital workplace experience. As innovation manager, Marta works to identify opportunities for technical improvement while also enhancing the remote collaboration capabilities of employees. She claims her day job is innovating, and her ‘gay job’ is co-chair of the LGBT community at Vodaphone.
With a background in computer engineering, Marta began working in the IoT space at Vodaphone in Lisbon. She had hard programming skills from her degree but wanted to learn more about how to build great products. Especially, how to use various methodologies to build the products users want. Marta came across an opportunity for a 3-month international placement in London and hopped on board. 3 months became 3 years, and she happily settled in the UK.
Marta and her team at V-Lab are the ‘tech-side of HR’. They act as internal innovation consultants and organize many events such as hackathons and upskilling sessions. By promoting team brainstorming and co-creating, the team is able to use design thinking methodologies to improve the well-being of employees and workplace experiences.
Listen to the following clips to learn more about Marta and how the V-Lab works.
“I believe that innovation happens when someone sees something you haven’t seen. Meaning that, diversity is super important for innovation. Having that inclusivity can be something very positive when you think about innovation and creativity. I see that as a balance.” – Marta Lima
Innovation and employee well-being during Covid-19
Since the pandemic, staff working remotely can no longer use the V-Lab in its traditional format. Marta and her team switched to running digital sessions but had to rework them to better fit the new online structure. In-lab, it’s easier to force participants to stay concentrated on the tasks. Remotely, participants can have many distractions, from email notifications to pets and children at home. So, the V-Lab sessions became shorter and more direct. Instead of going through a long thinking process, they focus on one side of design thinking with 1-hour presentations or less interactive lunch and learn sessions.
“It’s different because you don’t feel the energy of the room. You don’t get the pulse of how the session is going. On the other side, it’s much more inclusive.” – Marta Lima
The upside of remote sessions is the ability to provide higher inclusivity. Previously, sessions were run in London, and only employees in the UK were able to participate. Now, sessions can be run with staff members from the UK, India, and Egypt all at the same time. With such a diverse group of people, innovating can be made easier, as people are exposed to new ways of thinking from diverse cultural backgrounds.
How to maintain the well-being of employees within the digital workplace experience
“The number one challenge that we have at this point, is that we have great tools in our personal lives. The apps and the digital services that we use day-to-day in our personal lives are really good. So, people expect the same level of experience in the workplace.” – Marta Lima
Technology is ever-changing, and we’re used to using the latest and greatest digital services. Often, employees will seek out the best technology to help them perform their work-related tasks. Although this may seem like a good idea, it presents a major problem for corporations that need to protect their data. Keeping up with the pace of technology while ensuring data privacy is a constant battle, as it can be a lengthy process to implement new services. Data protection agreements must be in place before the widespread use of new systems. The problem is to “be fast enough to give employees the right tools while keeping the data safe.”
Employee well-being in the workplace as the key to retention
“How do we help people, when they join the company, to feel like they belong?” – Marta Lima
In this clip, Marta speaks of an external event she attended where someone expressed an issue with recent hires. They said that employees that had recently joined their organization weren’t staying long, and eventually returned to their previous jobs. This is due to remote working styles not being inclusive, and retention can be hard if people don’t feel like they belong in a company. Building social connections are key to creating an inclusive workplace environment, and not being in-office presents a major challenge. Marta is now rebuilding a platform to use AR/VR technology to promote socializing in a more fun and casual way.
Conclusion for employee well-being in the workplace
The well-being of employees depends to a large part on the experience employees have within the workplace. The workplace experience in return is now extremely reliant on technology and how employees interact with it. Marta and the V-Lab team focus on upskilling employees while promoting community support and internal socializing. Since the pandemic, remote working has come with a slew of challenges for creating social environments for staff members to flourish. Marta focuses on solving these issues with new methods and technologies.
Listen to this (episode No. 13) and other podcast episodes.
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