Work Smart Coaching at Privera

Work Smart: successfully launching the transition to flexible working

With the aid of Swisscom Work Smart Coaching, Privera launched the cultural transition necessary for digital transformation – from within and in a highly sustainable way.

Text: Jörg Rothweiler, 23

The digital transformation is changing the workplace. Work is becoming more flexible with regard to time and place, and customised project teams are replacing rigid hierarchies. This offers a lot of opportunities, but also entails the challenge of change. Employees must change their thinking – rethink – think the future. Merely introducing modern media is therefore not enough. The crucial factor is to produce a lasting “change of mind”, namely the will to “live” Work Smart effectively in the company. Like many companies, the independent real estate service provider Privera, with 12 branches across the country, discovered that this is anything but easy. The company provided a modern communication tool with Skype4Business, but the use of this tool remained far below expectations. Privera wanted to know the reason for this, and what they could do about it. To this end, the company brought the Swisscom Work Smart Coaching team on board with the aim of developing a solution based on the team’s experiences in everyday business as well as Privera’s individual needs.

The management of the change process was placed in the hands of young Privera employees from the start, with the goal of generating a change “from within”, i.e. from the company itself.

In-depth problem analysis was the first step

As a first step, the communication data was captured quantitatively and evaluated in detail. The in-depth analysis of the employees’ communication behaviour revealed two large barriers: Firstly, there were significant knowledge gaps concerning the tool, and secondly, there were weaknesses in individual methodical expertise which went far beyond Skype.

On the basis of these findings, initial hypotheses were formulated which were then examined and corroborated using a qualitative survey in the form of short interviews. These revealed that it was not so much the tool but rather the mindset of many employees which stood in the way of using Skype4Business.

Co-Creation: Change happens best from within

But how can the necessary change to the global mindset, in other words a company-wide cultural transition, succeed? The experience of the Swisscom coaches and various studies show that a sustainable “change of mind” cannot be imposed from outside. Long-term rethinking and new thinking only works if it is initiated and driven from inside, from within the company itself.

«I greatly appreciate being taken seriously by “those at the top” as a member of the community, and also that I myself was able to contribute to actively shaping my workplace of the future.»

Member of the Work Smart community

Accordingly, rather than using classic consultancy, the Swisscom Work Smart Coaching team relies on Co-Creation to promote the development of new possibilities and opportunities within the company – by means of a Work Smart community consisting of company employees. The community is closely accompanied and supported by the Swisscom Work Smart coaches, as well as being empowered methodologically to function as an initiator, motivator and driver of intrinsic change.

Workshop 1: Kick-off for change: the formation of a Work Smart community

To start the change, a kick-off workshop was held to determine which things have to be changed, and in which direction. Based on the findings of the problem analysis, the vision “Using Skype better”, jointly developed with the project team, was introduced – and the associated roadmap was presented. Then, to aid the desired intrinsic change process, the community put together for its implementation was structured accordingly. Each participating employee received a specific role within the group. This meant that the whole project management was in the hands of the Privera community from the start. The specialists from Swisscom Work Smart Coaching “merely” assisted them and supported the community with expertise and technical aid.

At the end of the first workshop, it was clear how well the concept works: In just half a day, the community formulated very specific desires and needs with regard to future collaboration within Privera. The advantages and potential provided by Skype4Business were revealed in the process. At the end of the day, a concept existed to enable intensified use of the tool, based on the jointly formulated requirements and goals.

Privera CEO Dieter Sommer is impressed by the performance of the coaches and the community and wants to continue to build on his “Pri2morrow” community’s power for change in the future.

Workshop 2: Identifying challenges, developing solutions

After creating the concept, the community addressed the question “How do we achieve the target we have set?” in a second workshop. It became clear very quickly that this question encompasses not only technical and administrative concerns but also human aspects. This is because in order to inspire other people with our own ideas, we have to know how people are working now – and how we ourselves and others would like to work in the future. To clarify the “human aspect” of the change process, the specific working methods of users at Privera were analysed, clear challenges were identified and correspondingly specific tasks were derived for the community. The community therefore knew exactly what would be necessary to get Privera employees interested in using Skype4Business more often. This included, for example, the creation of Quick Guides and clearly worded short instructions, but also the introduction of mobile clients.

«Ideas and changes in which everyone can actively participate are carried and implemented more efficiently than obligations and measures imposed from outside.»

Swisscom Work Smart coach

Another goal, namely to merge the very diverse community into a single powerful unit, succeeded virtually of its own accord. The group gave itself its own title – “Pri2morrow” – and developed a manifesto which clarified who is in the community, what it stands for and what value it represents for its own company.

The Swisscom coaches were amazed by the fact that the members of the Privera community, some from German- and some from French-speaking Switzerland, noted down ideas and plans together in German and French. “That was an important thing we ourselves learned from this project: workshops in two languages are possible!” explains a Swisscom Work Smart coach.

Workshop 3: Specific measures and persuasiveness

The third and final workshop addressed the question: “Will the executive floor be on board?” The planned measures, such as the production of instructions in video format and a major in-house information campaign, were presented to the management for clarification. This also revealed specific ideas about how the aims of the community can be transparently communicated to all employees, and which support measures the employees can receive from the community with regard to the use of Skype4Business.

“Saint Benedict stated in his Rules of Saint Benedict, as early as 540 AD, that if you don’t find a solution to a problem, you should ask the very young! The Work Smart community has initiated many positive changes and proved how right he was.”

Dieter Sommer, CEO Privera

Management was impressed and decided to implement all the planned measures. Furthermore – and all the members were particularly pleased about this – CEO Dieter Sommer professed the value of the community for his company. He wants to continue to build on the strength of the community in future change processes in the course of Work Smart.

“We have learned a lot for the future”

Adrian Blum, head of IT at Privera, talks about the Co-Creation process and Swisscom’s Work Smart Coaching

The process has greatly benefited Privera

Why did Privera choose Swisscom’s Work Smart Coaching?

Swisscom impressed us with the experiences that the Work Smart coaches had already gathered internally and at other companies with their Work Smart initiative. In addition, the tangible passion that those responsible at Swisscom had for this topic was very infectious and inspiring.

What has changed since the coaching?

We are still at the stage of building up the community. Having the young generation participate, involving them on the path towards digitalisation and enabling them to actively help shape it is a positive thing. You can already feel this.

Looking back, was the investment worth it?

Although it is still a little early for this assessment, I would already evaluate the initiative positively. The community members were able to take away and apply their own learning experiences from the workshops with regard to presentation technique.

How does Privera, or the community, now deal with challenges?

There are a number of challenges, particularly when establishing the community, because they develop quickly and also change internally. This makes our project manager all the more important, since she holds the entire community together with enthusiasm. Support from the Management Board and the entire executive staff is just as crucial.

What will management take from the project into the future?

The spirit, motivation and commitment of the young people comprise valuable potential in the company that can release a lot of positive energy and inspire others.

Hand with smartphone


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