While the COVID-19 outbreak left many Australian companies reeling from its economic and social impacts, leading practice employer Deloitte Australia found themselves in the enviable position of being able to transition their entire 10,000 strong workforce to virtual working within just a week.
How did they manage such a seamless pivot? In the second of our ‘COVID Conversations’ with DCA members, Clare Harding, Chief Transformation Officer at Deloitte Australia explains to DCA CEO, Lisa Annese that prior investment in planning for the virtual office has paid off, equipping them with the necessary resources and mind-set to scale up as the crisis unfolded.
Ensuring employees felt well informed but also listened to throughout also proved vital to fostering connection and engagement, as Clare explains.
“What we've found is that in this time of crisis, our people need more direction and more instruction than they would normally need. We have a cultural saying of ‘empower and trust’. But interestingly, they've been asking us for more direction through this. So that they feel confident and safe that they're doing the right thing.”
In addition to initiatives such as exercise groups, catch-ups, mental health support mechanisms, well-being activities and utilising technology to maintain communication between teams, the social and workplace experiment that Clare calls the ‘The COVID Learning Curve’ has also required significant individual resilience.
“I've learned new skills like digital interviews, Zoom presentations to thousands of people, collaboration tools, online whiteboards, all these things that I've never done before. As well as health, safety, and how you manage that in the workplace. And then old skills like reading facial expressions done on a whole new level.”
Deloitte’s clients’ priorities have also become more complex.
“In as much as companies still need audits, tax work, expert advice, implementation of technologies, the problems that companies, businesses, and government are facing now have changed; they are asking ‘How do we recover from this?’ ‘And how do we thrive in a post COVID world?’
Looking forward, Clare anticipates lasting progress where flexible working is concerned.
“I think one of the things that this has done is demonstrate to us that working virtually is possible, and it gives people a lot more different options to work differently with different working patterns in different ways, from different locations yet still be highly productive, very valuable members of a community or a workforce”.
View the full video interview below.
Stay tuned for our next 'COVID Conversation' with DCA members in future editions of Inclusion Matters!