For some—like Degreed—remote work is built into the fabric of company culture. For others, operating without the comforts of a cubicle and the familiarity of in-person connections is a brand-new experience. The situation we’ve all found ourselves in is unprecedented. How can we keep focus when distractions lurk around every corner? How do we stay responsive when priorities are shifting at hyper-speed? How can we encourage “business as usual” when it feels like anything but?
We’re interviewing clients across a wide variety of industries to hear how they’re supporting their newly-remote workforces, creating virtual learning programs, and maintaining productivity in uncertain times. This is definitely new territory for us all, but we hope that by sharing best practices, insights, and real stories, we can all continue to grow, learn, and thrive—together.
Check back often for new entries in Navigating the New Normal: Advice from Degreed Clients.
This week, Degreed spoke with Govind Srinivasan, Global L&D Lead at Conduent, one of the biggest business process services companies in the world. Originally part of Xerox’s Business Services Division, Conduent launched as a standalone enterprise in 2017, and now caters to clients across America and Europe.
Degreed: Could you introduce yourself?
Govind: I’m Govind Srinivasan. I work out of Bangalore, India, and I am responsible for corporate learning and development in Conduent globally. We have about 68,000 employees and associates operating in healthcare, transportation, government, banking, finance, technology, and many other sectors.
Degreed: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected Conduent’s business?
Govind: The first way it has affected us is through business continuity. I don’t think anybody estimated this to be affecting everybody over such a long period of time. We’re not fully prepared for it in the sense that Conduent has associates who typically work from offices. That is where we’ve had the biggest struggle.
Our associates are contractually obligated to work from offices all over the world, but suddenly we are in a position where we cannot. We also have concerns over employee safety, which is common for many other companies. But business continuity is where it has hit us the hardest. I must say that our leadership and employees have done a tremendous job in the space of a few weeks to make sure we are up and running.
What began as a challenge is now providing us with great business opportunities, with many clients approaching us with more work.
Degreed: What about specifically for your learning team? How has your work been impacted?
Govind: On the learning front, we are pretty okay because we do much of our learning online with tools such as Degreed and Skillsoft. We have started this journey [of online learning] much ahead of others. We have a culture of self-directed learning. About 70-80% of our organization has already been using these platforms effectively. We’ve not really changed much, except we’re now looking at what is important for people to learn in light of the current situation.
All of the learning team members can work from home without much of an issue. That was taken care of, right in the beginning. As soon as we got this information, I told my team to work from home. Since we are already using tools like Degreed and Skillsoft, we could quickly turn our attention towards creating learning content within no time. We started deploying that content to people. Health and safety, remote working, business continuity, leading in crisis, keeping your mental balance, all of that. We’ve been able to do a pretty good job.
Degreed: You mentioned helping educate people about the virus and helping them adjust to working at home. Can you tell us a little bit more about that response?
Govind: First, we created a learning Plan on Degreed called “Navigating Through COVID-19,” with seven or eight learning Pathways. The first was about health and safety tips. Much of the content that we sourced there was from the World Health Organization and other medical organizations. We also had some help from Degreed and Skillsoft, where Degreed also had started creating these Pathways. We used some of that content for our Pathways.
Second, the other topic that we thought was very important was remote work. A lot of people—almost half of the organization—transitioned into remote work, and it is pretty new for many people. How do we help them to work remotely? We created two Pathways, one for the learners and another for the managers. For the learners, we wanted to get them used to the best practices when you’re working remotely. For the managers, we wanted to help them collaborate with their teams.
We created another Pathway called Business Continuity. We ran a learning cafe, with the help of a senior leader, to tell people how important it is to continue the business—for keeping our families safe and keeping our jobs safe. We also created Pathways around how managers can be more empathetic and how we can all keep our mental health balanced.
There were a lot of updates already in the last week, with many people using these sources of information to keep themselves abreast, keep themselves safe, and make themselves productive.
Degreed: Are there any specific tools or technologies that your team is finding useful right now?
Govind: The typical collaboration tool that we use within the organization is Microsoft Teams. I think that’s becoming much more important. It’s like this: e-commerce and ordering online was convenient earlier. Now, it’s a requirement. It’s the same thing with tools such as Microsoft Teams. It’s not merely convenient anymore—we have to use it.
For our learning café, [which are] live webinars on topics currently relevant to employees, we are using the same tool, with the help of a live event. Of course, in terms of learning, we’re also using Degreed and Skillsoft.
Degreed: Are there any early lessons you or your organization learned that would be useful to share? What other changes do you anticipate in the months ahead?
Govind: Organizations are never too prepared for an eventuality like this. So, we need to have a robust business continuity plan, which is repeatedly tested and in a state of readiness. Operational agility and flexibility are key to getting up and running quickly. Getting all stakeholders—including shareholders, clients, and employees—onboard is important. So is communication, wide and deep, through all channels, especially by leadership.
We also need to keep looking for new business opportunities by being innovative. It’s very difficult to say what’s ahead right now. Will remote working by the majority of employees be the new normal? Will productivity be affected? That depends on how long-lasting the situation is going to be, and the probability of recurrence.