March 10 marked the one-year anniversary of our pivoting to work from home for the foreseeable future. At the time, our workplace experience (WX) taskforce had been reimagining a more holistic and supportive work experience, but as Covid-19 took hold, those efforts turned towards evolving the way we work to meet a new set of challenges. That mission grew into WE@Audible, or workplace evolved, seeking to equip employees with resources and tools to feel supported and productive while working from home.
But where do we go from here? As vaccinations make it possible to return to something ‘closer to normal,’ what will the future of work at Audible look like? Or as Chief People Officer Anne Erni and Head of Talent and Culture Ara Tucker are asking, what should it look like? Erni and Tucker recently discussed this question in a LinkedIn Live session (which you can watch below), stressing the role of our Activate Caring People Principle. “Activate Caring informed how we adopt, adapt and change the future of our physical workplace,” says Erni, “and how we want to change it when we do go back.”
Erni describes a hybrid model emphasizing flexibility. “Work is not a place,” she says, “it can happen anywhere.” Employers across industries are discussing shifting to a dual-workspace world that encompasses our home offices and our physical office spaces, or “hubs.” This “hub and home” model lets us enjoy the social, in-person benefits of teamwork, brainstorms, scrums and so on, while the home office affords private work time and attention to personal needs. “I’m convinced agility is going to be the key for the future of work.”
Empathy also plays a huge role. Tucker points out that in addition to the pandemic, “we’re also grappling with a racial and social justice reckoning, charged political climates, and other seismic shifts happening around the globe.” Creating a truly supportive workplace environment requires making sure all voices are heard, and that all people feel comfortable being vulnerable. Tucker says she’s thinking about how to create a space where anyone can feel safe saying, “I’m not okay.”
Employee feedback has already informed changes in practices. “We’ll continue to listen to our employees, hear what their needs are, and allocate resources and make changes that solve their problems,” says Erni.
Watch the entire conversation below.