Creating Resilience

Five Insights From Momentive’s Experiment With a New Way of Working

27 ene. 2022 8 Consumo de tiempo Read

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Organizational resilience can feel like an elusive goal but is increasingly a requirement in a world that is becoming more unpredictable. Corporate leaders are challenged to guide their company and people through unprecedented change while meeting business objectives and safeguarding employee welfare.

Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey), an agile experience management company, recently engaged CBRE Workplace to drive its Reimagine Work initiative and enhance its workplace experience. Prior to the pandemic, Momentive benefited from serendipitous moments of interaction, learning and inspiration that occurred in the office. With a culture rooted in physical presence, Momentive experienced the same challenge facing most of the corporate world: how to reimagine work for a newly flexible workforce.

We continually look at our values to ensure we’re living them in ways that make sense for Momentive. It was time to evolve. It was time to modernize the work experience for our employees, deliver more flexibility to them and give them permission to work in ways that best suit them so they can provide the most value to our customers.
Becky CantieriChief People Officer, Momentive

Momentive’s core company values provided the “north star” for the project. Goals for the Reimagine Work initiative centered on increasing employee flexibility, accelerating business outcomes and enhancing talent attraction and retention. The CBRE-Momentive team accomplished these goals using a phased approach:

Graphic of Momentive phase timeline

The CBRE engagement with Momentive yielded five core insights that any company can use to help build a resilient workplace experience that prioritizes people during change:

1. Lead with authenticity and transparency.

An effective leader should guide others with authenticity and transparency. Keeping all levels of employees informed along the way reduces uncertainty. To accomplish this, CBRE began by performing extensive background research to understand Momentive’s company culture and the challenges they wanted to solve. This exploration included a wide-ranging investigation of Momentive’s operating model, vision and people aspirations.

We collectively designed an initiative to help us gather the insights to dig deep into what was and wasn’t working... It was really collaborative and oriented around design thinking. We went wide and narrow and wide and narrow again, always with employee feedback at the forefront of our focus.
Becky CantieriChief People Officer, Momentive

2. Dig into the data to uncover unique needs and foster inclusion.

Data creates the “what” and the “why” behind how an organization can make effective decisions. The data uncovered through employee engagement surveys and other research laid the foundation for Momentive’s initiative to reimagine work. From there, CBRE and Momentive co-developed a hybrid working model, later internally branded as @Choice, which empowers Momentive employees to determine where and how their best work gets done based on their individual needs and preferences.

Remote work is here to stay, and organizations must plan to accommodate the dynamic needs of their employees and the business. To illustrate how they are meeting those needs, Momentive’s @Choice program elevates the mission, vision and values of the company, including their longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). These values are “core to who we are, how we operate, what we believe, and how we create great employee experiences and achieve great business outcomes,” according to Cantieri. Companies that seek to reimagine their own workplace model should use a strong data-driven approach to understand the needs of their current and future talent.

3. Provide employees with choice and flexibility in a hybrid world.

A particularly important characteristic of Momentive’s workforce is its global distribution. About 15% of Momentive’s staff is based in the EU, with 27% in Canada and 1% in Australia. Heavy collaboration across time zones is an essential requirement. With 58% of employees working on the West Coast of the United States, EU-based employees were more likely to report facing time-zone challenges. Internationally-based employees’ workdays were often longer, as they attended meetings that creeped well into their evenings.

To overcome the challenges of geographic isolation and exclusion, Momentive instituted @Choice to enhance employee belonging and happiness. Alongside their manager, employees decide how often they will use the office in ways that bring the highest value and most meaning for themselves as an individual and as a teammate. New ways of working in this hybrid model allow for greater flexibility and autonomy, improving work/life balance. Alongside their manager, employees decide how often they will use the office in ways that bring the highest value and most meaning for themselves as an individual and as a teammate. New ways of working in this hybrid model allow for greater flexibility and autonomy, improving work/life balance. By reducing dependency on physical offices, Momentive’s @Choice initiative unlocks new talent pools in geographies previously inaccessible to the organization. To further embrace an inclusive culture, @Choice includes important aspects of Momentive employees’ identities, such as working parents, varying abilities, ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds and multiple generations. These considerations will help any company serve the whole employee and their wellbeing.

4. Embrace experimentation by piloting new initiatives.

Prototyping and piloting new tools, methods and behaviors necessary for success in hybrid working—or any organizational change—allow for short-term experimentation without the long-term time or capital investment. Speedbumps are inevitable, and small-scale pilots allow improvements to be made along the way before ultimately reaching a final iteration of the new initiative.

To test potential solutions to time zone challenges and other concerns, CBRE implemented a series of pilots that validated new ways of working within @Choice. The pilots helped to ease operational and experiential pain points at Momentive. Because the Reimagine Work project occurred while all Momentive employees were working remotely, these pilots consisted of the non-physical tools, behaviors and methodologies that could be tested within a virtual working environment. The success of the pilots was determined using surveys and virtual focus groups. Some of the most successful pilot programs included meeting-free “Focus Fridays” to provide time and space for deep work; asynchronous collaboration tools to reduce the necessity of time-bound meetings for knowledge sharing; and agile meeting methodologies for quicker, more effective meetings.

5. Gather employee feedback continuously.

Change always goes more smoothly when impacted people have a voice. Even if employees don’t always get everything they want, it is important that they feel heard. A two-way feedback process is critical when undergoing any organizational change, and it is particularly paramount given the uncertain landscape in which we currently live and work.

During Momentive’s pilot program, participants continuously provided feedback on how the pilots are integrated into their workdays, how they could be improved and whether the practices should be socialized across the organization. In addition to asking for employees’ transparent feedback, Momentive leaders openly revealed the program’s intention. Instead of fearing failure, the Momentive team embraced the opportunity for experience-based learning and stayed open to course corrections. Pilots embrace iteration and resilience, ultimately better positioning an organization to ride the wave of unpredictable change.

Momentive leaders deeply valued the pilots’ ability to bring employees along the journey of co-creating @Choice. Cantieri said pilots “continued to build our confidence. They provided great insight and an opportunity for employees to be involved in this transformation. It wasn’t something happening to them, but with them—something they shaped. The pilots engaged the team at a deeper level and got them excited about the future much more than us telling them what the future could be.

Looking Ahead 

The Momentive team is now rolling out @Choice, with employees selecting one of three options (@Office, @Remote, or @Hybrid) as a part of the employee benefits open enrollment. As Cantieri says, “There’s still a lot to learn. It’s too early to claim victory, because the truth lies in the experiences we’ve created for our employees. But we used to believe you had to be in the office to be productive and that the office was the only way to collaborate and get work done. Reimagine Work has given us the insight, feedback and experience of doing something radically different. It’s the future of how we will operate at Momentive."