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In Conversation With Binu Mathew, Head of People, HP – India, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka

A key challenge lies in shifting the cultural mindset from valuing in-person presence to prioritizing output and productivity says Mathew in an exclusive conversation with Krishnendra Joshi, Editorial Lead, BW People.

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How do you view the evolution of the workplace, particularly in the context of the hybrid work model, and how has this influenced the corporate image and culture? 

The evolution of the workplace, especially in the hybrid work model, represents a significant shift in how we approach work post-pandemic. This transition from necessity to choice has not only reshaped physical workspaces but has also altered the expectations of India's workforce. The recent HP Work Relationship Index survey highlights a strong desire for improvement, with 78% of knowledge workers in India reporting increased expectations regarding their work relationships, and a majority expressing willingness to switch to a lower-paying job for a better workplace experience. At HP, we firmly believe in the nature of the hybrid work model, seeing it as a commitment to flexibility and employee well-being. This shift has positively influenced our corporate image, associating us with adaptability and a supportive environment for our evolving workforce. 

In what ways have you leveraged technology to empower your workforce and combat employee attrition in the hybrid work environment? 

Responding to insights from HP's Hybrid Work Study 2022, with 92% of Indian employees seeing improved work-life balance with hybrid work but seeking better tools and technology training, we've prioritised investment in the right infrastructure. Recognizing the importance of adapting the office to a hybrid workforce, we recently relocated and redesigned our Gurgaon office, emphasizing collaboration areas and enabling employees to engage seamlessly. These spaces are not only conducive to in-person teamwork but also facilitate the inclusion of hybrid colleagues, ensuring a unified work experience. Bringing employees to one large floor, instead of being spread out, has also helped in collaboration and teamwork. We have also focussed on renovations across India, including upgraded collaboration facilities and Poly conferencing systems, which ensure effective hybrid work across all our offices in India. 

Could you discuss your strategies for attracting and retaining top talent, especially younger employees, in a world where flexibility is highly valued? 

In a world where flexibility is highly valued, our strategies for attracting and retaining top talent, especially among younger employees, revolve around championing the Hybrid Work Model. We view it not just as a short-term necessity but as a key driver for long-term business growth and success when implemented effectively. We firmly believe that offering flexibility and prioritizing work-life balance fosters a meaningful emotional connection between employees and the organization. This, in turn, becomes a catalyst for sustainable business growth and talent retention.  

How do you prioritize the mental health and well-being of your employees, and what measures have you taken to address remote work challenges? 

At HP, prioritizing the mental health and overall well-being of our employees remains a focal point. We recognize the unique challenges posed by remote work and have implemented targeted measures to address them comprehensively. The HP Employee Wellness Charter underscores our commitment to providing holistic support. Our approach involves encouraging regular breaks and rejuvenation through frequent vacations, with the introduction of a dedicated "Me Day" as an extra well-being holiday. 

Wellness Programs, including Annual Health assessments, "Get Set Reset," our health coaching initiative focussed on weight management and overall fitness is highly appreciated by employees. The Global Wellness Challenge, another great program is designed to empower employees to prioritize their physical and mental health. Further, the Employee Assistance Program, complemented by a 24/7 virtual clinic, serves as a robust support system. 

Are there any specific technologies or tools that have been particularly effective in supporting remote and hybrid work arrangements? 

In facilitating remote and hybrid work arrangements, beyond essential tools, certain technologies have proven particularly effective in enhancing productivity and collaboration. Enabling a complete PC ecosystem and providing device flexibility is integral to seamless hybrid work. Monitors, peripherals such as webcams, wireless mice, keyboards, and headphones have emerged as game-changers, addressing the unique challenges posed by the hybrid setup. These tools play a crucial role in bridging the physical gap between remote and in-office teams, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration.  

What insights and recommendations can you share from your experience about thriving in the hybrid work landscape, and what key lessons have you learned along the way? 

Thriving in the hybrid work landscape demands a strategic and empathetic approach. I believe that clear communication and fostering a sense of belonging are paramount. As a woman myself, I’ve grown to believe that the keyword to establish a balance between work, family, and one’s individual life is flexibility and drawing boundaries. Working women who are also mothers or wives have been exposed to a much more complicated version of working from home. Thus, it becomes critical for organizations to ensure that women are empowered.-Along with this, investing in technology has also proven instrumental in facilitating seamless collaboration and bridging the gap between physical and virtual workspaces.  As we continue to evolve, we believe that meaningful conversations, open discussions about challenges, and a willingness to embrace new ways of working are crucial. Creating an environment where employees can bring their authentic selves to work is not just a goal but a commitment that shapes our resilient and thriving workplace culture. 

Could you provide more details about specific initiatives and programs that have been introduced to support employees in the current hybrid work scenario? 

We have a lot of programs to support our employees' diverse needs. HP’s Leave programs with multiple leave options – including Paid leaves like Parental, Wedding, Bereavement, Annual, Sick and Casual leaves and also unpaid Long-Term leave of absence enable employees to take care of their aged parents, newborns or other personal commitments. The company also considers the provision of rotations or lighter roles for special requests based on personal reasons. Flexible working hours and Reduced work hour policies have been introduced to support our employees in balancing their personal and professional commitments by providing alternative work schedules.  

Our Matrikas initiative is a comprehensive approach to provide preventive, promotive & curative healthcare for new and to-be mothers. For women, programs like Reboot are designed for re-joining the workforce after a career break of one to five years. This provides the women on career breaks with an opportunity to strengthen their skills, explore a new career path, and gives them the ability to transition into the workforce on a full-time basis.  

These initiatives reflect our commitment to a supportive and inclusive work environment at HP. 

Looking ahead, what innovations or technologies are you considering to further enhance the employee experience in a hybrid work environment? 

As we look ahead, our focus is on leveraging innovative technologies to enhance the employee experience within our evolving hybrid work environment. We are actively exploring advanced collaboration tools designed to seamlessly integrate virtual and in-person interactions. This priority reflects our commitment to fostering efficient communication and teamwork, ensuring that our employees thrive in a connected and dynamic work landscape. 



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