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Lessons Learned from Working Remotely as We Adjust to the ‘New Normal'

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The New Normal, in Conversation with WSP

As companies across the globe are anticipating what the future holds for the workplace post-COVID, we had the chance to chat with our friends at WSP, leaders in the transportation and infrastructure industry, to hear how they are navigating these trying times. Here we’ve summarised their success and experiences for you to learn from. You can also watch the full video here!

Changes to the Workplace

The biggest change that many non-essential companies needed to adapt to, almost overnight, was creating remote and flexible working environments. It’s one thing sending workers home, but an even bigger challenge is to consider how to bring employees back into the office or if permanent changes need to be made instead.

“With the changes that have come due to the pandemic we have recently started to bring staff back into the office with no obligations to do so, but creating a flexible space for them to feel comfortable to do so.
We have also taken a survey from our staff recently to gauge the thoughts and preferences of staff to come back into the office, and there was a staggering amount of staff who wanted to have a balance of work from home and some time in the office.” - Andy Cross - Head of talent and mobility at WSP

Each workplace is different and the culture may thrive in various ways. It is important to consider what your company truly needs from a work environment to reach business goals. A good way to think about it is by considering this time apart as an experiment and look at how teams are performing remotely compared to how they performed together in the office. Are there any major differences you notice right away? What are the pros and cons?

Gathering feedback from your staff is a great way to find out how your employees are really feeling about the changes and what they want going forward. Another great best practice is to have managers gather feedback through one on ones with their direct reports. This is the time to be flexible and consider striking a balance between how the company wants to move forward and what will work for employees now that everyone has had a taste of working from home for a longer period of time.

3 Suggestions for Returning to the Office

  1. You could start by opening up the office so that employees can come back in if they wish, but keep the option open for them to continue working from home.
  2. Instead of opening up the office to everyone at once, you could consider bringing in one or two teams back in at a time.
  3. Ask staff to trial coming in for two days a week and have them work from home for the rest of the week before considering if returning for the full five days is right for your company.

“While we aren’t sure how things are going to play out in the coming weeks or months, we are having open conversations and keeping an open mind to make sure that we are in the right place to be prepared for what the future holds.” - Andy Cross - Head of talent and mobility at WSP

The Biggest Lesson Learned from COVID-19

As the ‘new normal’ takes shape, businesses are starting to apply practical lessons learnt from this unique time. Having more open and purposeful conversations is definitely something that we’re hearing from many businesses. Something about working apart is helping people to be more intentional with their conversations and even opening up and sharing more about themselves than what they might have been in the office.

“We introduced a get to know you section in our team meetings weekly where we asked members of our team to introduce themselves, where they are from and ways that you can get the best from them as a people leader.” - Andy Cross - Head of talent and mobility at WSP

Considering ways you can continue having more open communication with your team going forward is going to be a really powerful lesson learnt form COVID-19. This is something you can implement right away when you onboard a new employee or begin to establish with an existing team. Taking the time to listen to what your team has to say will be sure to help encourage a more connected and effective team.

Technology to Support the Talent Team

With the number of employees in offices being sparse, the reliance of technology has become so much more important in making sure that new talent is nurtured and cultivated. Now is the time to really consider what your team needs to achieve and if your current processes are supporting those goals. If you find any gaps or identify tasks that could easily be automated, now is a good time to consider implementing some new tech.

“We are very fortunate to have a range of technology tools. However, it has meant that we are really looking at each of them holistically and discerning ‘why we are using them’, ‘how we are using them’ and how we get the best from them.” - Antonio Delle Donne - National Talent Acquisition at WSP

3 Suggestions to Consider When Implementing New Technology

  1. Consider what data security the company has to offer
    Be sure to do your due diligence and check that the tech provider you're looking into has good security measures in place. It is critical to ensure that you're investing in a solution that can be trusted to securely collect and store your data.

  2. Find out what other people are saying about the tech
    Spend some time researching what people are saying about a brand online. It can be helpful to start by looking at public reviews on platforms such as G2. Reviews can be a great indicator of the range of customer and client experiences a business provides.

  1. Check what support the company offers
    Before investing in any tech, it is important to find out what level of support will be available to you. You want to be sure that after the sale has taken place, there are several communication lines open to you if you need them.

Another great point to consider when it comes to tech is how, when used correctly, it can help eliminate discrimination during the recruitment process. Remote work allows for more flexibility for a range of different people who may not have had the same level of opportunity before COVID-19 hit.

“With such incredible advancements in technology, there are great opportunities for inclusion for those with disabilities and impairments to help engage everyone within the workplace.” - Andy Cross - Head of talent and mobility at WSP

Digital Reference Checking with Xref

As a happy Xref client, WSP has benefited from the simplicity and ease that the Xref solution has to offer. In recruitment, time is of the essence and in a changing market, minimising recruitment admin is incredibly helpful when it comes remaining competitive. Digital reference checking takes the legwork out of a critical recruitment task to ensure it is done quickly, efficiently and with compliance.

 If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blog ‘Online Reference Checking Explained’ or read what some of our other clients have to say about using the platform.

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