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Is the “New Normal” the “Never Normal”?

Hosted by: Ubisoft

ChapmanCG, in partnership with Ubisoft, were delighted to bring together an engaged group of senior international HR leaders in Paris as we continued the discussion around the “new normal” in the workplace. Or shall we say the “never normal?” 

Anika Grant, Chief People Officer, Andrew Saidy, VP Global Talent, and Kévin Bouchareb, Director Future of Work took us through how Ubisoft are developing the Future of Work and the implications on their talent strategies. 

The Never Normal

In the past year the leaders at Ubisoft have noticed a shift in perception among their 20,000 strong workforce, towards finding a healthy balance between work, family, sports, and culture. The reality today is more about being comfortable in uncomfortable and constantly evolving surroundings.

So how does this impact HR leaders today? There’s an acute need for all HR practitioners to learn to juggle new performance practices, leadership and managerial transformation, wellbeing programmes, flexibility frameworks, new ways of working, new tools, new rituals… Many business leaders have been questioning what’s happening, and rightly so. It’s not the “new normal” anymore, it’s the “never normal”. A reality where change is constantly triggered by seismic shocks around us. As HR professionals we need to understand what’s happening outside, we must be able to predict and anticipate momentous changes and translate these into HR practices to continue to attract, engage, and retain talent in the most relevant way. 

As a video gaming media tech company whose success largely relies on team innovation and in-person creativity, remote working was initially a challenge for Ubisoft. How do you ensure team collaboration and creative engagement when everyone works from their own bubble? By introducing a work-from-anywhere policy, Ubisoft responded to their team’s appetite for flexible work. The newly launched framework allows its EU-based team members to work from anywhere in the EU up to 20 days a year. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from all areas and functions. 

The Future of Work is Flexibility

A recent Microsoft index study showed that just 12% of leaders surveyed feel confident that their remote working team are productive, and 85% of them argue that the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive.

On the flip side, 87% of employees report they are productive at work and 73% of them say they need a better reason to go into the office than just company expectations. 

It’s clear that some activities can be performed as efficiently – if not better – remotely, for example tasks that require deep focus and concentration. At the same time, companies like Ubisoft have noticed that some activities suffer from remote work due to a lack of in-person collaboration. Whilst time saved by not commuting to the office is helping balancing work with personal life, working from home also make some employees feel more isolated and less engaged. 

How do we ensure these seemingly polarized parties come to a mutually beneficial agreement, balancing productivity and output with social and mental wellbeing?

We need to start by realising one size does not fit all. Whilst there is a clear desire to work from home (WFH), the future of work is not just about WFH – it’s how we think about work. Although huge and significant, it’s not just about tech either. Kévin Bouchareb argued that it’s about the new tools and rituals we are slowly getting accustomed to, it’s about work rhythms and workplace transformations. It’s a about making inclusion and belonging part of the everyday. It’s about making the commute worth it by creating areas for collaborative hot-desking and creative co-working spaces. 

As executive search professionals we see this every day at ChapmanCG – HR leaders want to see sustainable and generous flexibility frameworks from their prospective employers. They want to be part of inclusive, purpose-driven environments where they can be their authentic self and continue to learn. 

Key Take Aways

To fully embrace and prepare for the future of work, business decision-makers and HR leaders need to

  • Rethink the workplace to make it outstanding and meaningful 
  • Reinforce IT capabilities to make remote working smooth 
  • Manage the output instead of the time 
  • Rethink practices and rituals to increase overall alignment and inclusion 
  • Ensure leaders understand this ‘new normal’ and embody healthy, inclusive, and flexible mindset and ways of working
  • Make fun a mandatory part of the work culture and day to day practices 
  • Trust and empowerment should be the rule, control is the exception
  • Test and learn faster – test fast, learn fast, fix fast and extend fast instead of waiting for months to find the perfect answer

Thank you again to Ubisoft for a very energising and insightful session. The future of work is an environment that is ‘never normal’ – it’s down to us now to embrace and seize this opportunity to be constantly agile and learn from the challenges in front of us. At ChapmanCG we are excited to see how things evolve and we look forward to hosting more exclusive sessions on the future of work for our network of HR Leaders across EMEA and the rest of the world. 

Click here to get more insights from inspiring HR Leaders in our global network.


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