When Covid-19 hit, upending our lives and our workplaces, Audible was already in the process of reimagining the future of work. A cross-functional team, focused on workplace experience (WX), had been formed in the fall of 2019 to ask probing questions and formulate solutions for delivering a distinctive employee experience.
With an initial goal of redesigning our work spaces over the course of several months in 2019 and early 2020, our team wanted to develop innovative ways of working that would be more flexible, durable and resilient in order to foster connection and collaboration across our global entities. Our focus shifted once Covid-19 took hold, though this initial work proved vital to our ability to respond thoughtfully and quickly to employees’ rapidly evolving needs, including juggling work with caring for children and loved ones, as we moved to working from home across the globe.
Our updated “mission” is WE@Audible, which stands for workplace evolved, and our internal team includes employees from across Audible representing technology, HR, workplace, facilities, real estate, communications and brand. Designing and implementing solutions that meet employees’ needs today while also evolving our workplace permanently to meet the needs of tomorrow includes completely reimaging the role of our workplace in our day-to-day lives as we shift to a more flexible and remote work culture–balancing working from home and the in-person office experience.
“Our employees and the places where they work are inextricably linked to their overall workplace experience,” says Chief People Officer Anne Erni. “As we continue to imagine and invent for our customers and our communities, my goal for this team was to do the same for our employees by recreating a culture of work that works for them.”
Kelly DelRosso, Audible’s Senior Director, Design - People & Places, explains that the plan is to “listen-test-iterate” as new policies and procedures are rolled out. Tangible outcomes from this approach have included extending the ability to set flexible working hours to all employees’ company-wide and creating shorter, more outcome-focused meetings to help reduce employee burnout from too much screen time and back-to-back video calls.
These people-first policies that create a more holistic and supportive work environment are central to the cross-functional WX team’s mission of creating optimal spaces for work, like places to meet and congregate and also work individually. The team also continues to explore ways tech can help the company and employees’ achieve our goals with a “virtual-first” approach, through applications, equipment and other tools. And they prioritize employee health and wellbeing through weekly meditation sessions, virtual consultations with Audible’s resident dietician that include easy-to-make, healthy recipes, Q&A sessions with leading clinical and social psychologists on how to manage stress and anxiety and more.
“While Covid-19 has accelerated our efforts, we know there’s even greater opportunity ahead,” says Ara Tucker, Head of Talent and Culture at Audible. “There’s so much we can do to reimagine how we work to empower and equip our employees to bring their best on behalf of our customers and it’s great to be part of a team at the forefront of this effort.”