EXCLUSIVE: HLM Architects embraces technology to connect with employees

Employee Benefits Reset 2020: HLM Architects has embraced the changes brought on by the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic by embracing a digital world.

In a session titled ‘Technology meets HR: connecting office-based employees, remote workers and line managers’, Marcus Earnshaw, technology director at HLM Architects, explained that this is the perfect opportunity to utilise technology, not as a solution to the current problem, but as an opportunity to connect with employees in an easier way going forward.

He said: “Make the time, take the opportunity to let [employees] see who you really are. Establish different channels for different reasons, champion the social and encourage freedom in these channels.

“There’s never been so many tools for delivery, sharing of information, accessibility, ease of access and monitoring. It’s just as important to find the [tools] that suit your people or your teams.”

Earnshaw added that digital technology teams need to have a change in their approach for providing solutions and processes for troubleshooting. “[It’s about] making life easier, better and more convenient for your teams,” he said. 

Due to the pandemic, HLM introduced its digital-first strategy, looking at how employees work, the tools they need, the skills they should develop and where they work. The organisation moved away from communicating by email believing that immersive communication tools like Teams provide a better platform for speaking and viewing without the “intrusiveness of email”.

“We actively encourage our employees to  engage on social media with their own voice and their own personality,” added Earnshaw. “We relaxed the guidance on social channels to be more free flowing and allow social channels to be created. We gave [employees] online access to corporate calling without the cost or intrusion on their own personal devices. We removed status; equipment was given to employees [because it was what they needed] rather than what’s dictated by position or title.

“We enhanced our bring-your-own device policy, and through technology [employees] can use their own equipment to connect to corporate services without having to install software on their own devices, and our digital workplaces, we’ve really looked to enhance our studios and form our studios into collaborative environments; enabling them to adapt and evolve with the correct digital tools and equipment.”

Although employees are gradually returning to the offices, digital virtual tea breaks still remain in place and employees have access to an online learning platform. The organisation also provides the artificial intelligence self-care app, Wellbot, as part of its commitment to the wellbeing of its employees.

Earnshaw believes that this new way of working will power change for the better. “It is helping us to improve engagement and design democracy. We’re recording sessions so those who can’t attend can stay involved and contribute and people can be brought in at short notice,” he explained.

“All of these things are bringing us closer together as a team internally and with our clients we are able to draw  on expertise across our business, sometimes at a minute’s notice.”

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All 22 sessions in the Reset series are available to view on-demand for free. Simply register here for full access.

Read the full agenda here.