Flexible working doesn’t mean the end of collaboration

To simulate the sense of connection built in offices, we asked colleagues to come up with innovative ideas to improve the flexible workplace

On 1 April, 84 per cent of our colleagues from eight of our markets started our new flexi-working program, with phase-two markets planned for later this year, and all markets expected to transition by the end of 2022.

We have proven during the COVID-19 pandemic that we deliver the highest standards for our colleagues and clients while working remotely, but the benefits we get from face-to-face interactions – connection, collaboration, wellbeing – have also become obvious by their absence.

To help find a solution to this, we came up with the Watercooler Challenge. The objective was to work with our colleagues to co-create ideas to recreate ‘watercooler moments’ in a flexible workplace. We wanted to replicate real-life connection and collaborative moments – those unplanned office encounters that often lead to innovation, but which don’t happen as naturally while some or all of us are at home.

Colleagues submitted their ideas and those whose ideas were shortlisted attended an ‘intrapreneurs bootcamp’ run by our in-house innovation experts, and then gave final pitches to a judging panel.

Out of all the great ideas we received, two have been selected by the judging panel to proceed to the next stage: SC Billy, an app which aims to be a one-stop shop for all staff engagement, connecting colleagues from across the globe virtually or face-to-face; and CoffeeMeet, a platform leveraging on a machine-learning based matching algorithm that helps make connections between colleagues who might otherwise never have met.

As a single optimised solution is built from the combined strengths of SC Billy and CoffeeMeet, we have also begun working with the valuable inputs from other colleague ideas to develop quick wins that we aim to introduce to the organisation in the months ahead.

We had a chance to speak to the people behind SC Billy and CoffeeMeet. Click the boxes below to read their stories.