Flexible work options made possible by AXA’s Smart Working concept are an integral part of our company. This is because at AXA, the emphasis is on trust, flexibility and teamwork. Team members can decide for themselves when and where they want to work in order to reach their targets. In creative teams in particular, this flexible independence really spurs on the creative process. We asked the Brand & Advertising team:
At AXA, flexible working is more than just having a flexible work schedule. Together staff can decide on how they want to work together in their team – online, in person or a mix of both. And they can also choose where they want to work – in the office at AXA, at home or in a co-working space – wherever they’re most productive. Working hours are also largely flexible. Time in the office provides an opportunity for intensive creative and personal exchanges with colleagues. Personal contact and team cohesion are maintained through regular team meetings in the office.
Claudia Suter tells us about the Smart Working model her team uses. The location where the team works is determined by where they feel most productive and where teamwork is at its best. The individual needs of each team member are also taken into account.
“We will never go back to working 100% in the office. Those days are gone,” explains Claudia. Her team meets at the office at AXA just once a week for a team day. Employees decide for themselves where they want to work the rest of the week, depending on their personal preferences.
On team day, the focus is on cooperation, creativity and team development. “We start our mornings together with a half-hour coffee break, later we go to lunch together at our local restaurant, and we end our day with a two-hour team meeting. We strive to make sure everyone has one-on-one time on this day,” says Claudia.
For Claudia, it’s also important that she’s present on this day for her team. This is why she keeps her schedule completely free on team day. She even tries to avoid online meetings. “This day is all about talking together and working together. This is only possible when the entire team and I are all present so we can make the most of our time together,” notes Claudia.
“We will never go back to working 100% in the office. Those days are gone.”
“Our team day should be a creative day – for us this is the most important point. When we all spend the day at the office, we want to make it worthwhile. Being able to talk face to face creates added value for the Brand & Advertising team.” Team members also have their choice of which office spaces they want to use. With the new collaboration spaces available at the different AXA locations, the team can decide which office building is most suitable for the work they have to do that day.
“As creative types we need personal interaction and dialog. It’s part of our nature and is essential for our work,” explains Claudia. It is also important for the team to be able to work in spaces that foster the creative process.
The team reflects briefly on the advantages and disadvantages of the new virtual meeting culture and they all agree that virtual meetings have clear advantages and disadvantages. “We certainly share more often. Both internally at AXA and externally with collaboration partners and customers. The new meeting culture makes everything more efficient and the knowledge exchange is more intense. More than ever, meetings today must be well prepared and moderated,” says Claudia.
But among the many advantages of hybrid working – fewer long meetings, greater efficiency – there is a problem: “The borders between work and personal life are becoming increasingly blurred. We have to make sure that we set stricter boundaries,” adds Claudia. This is why the Brand & Advertising team tries to keep one day a week free of meetings. This enables everyone to focus on their work and finish up important tasks. And this has a positive impact on everyone’s well-being.
“Time will tell whether one team day a week is enough or whether we will need two or three in the future,” says Claudia. This is what their “test and learn” method is all about.
Team preferences are regularly evaluated in discussions. If something is not quite working as it should, then it is tweaked. This is because the Brand & Advertising team exemplifies an extensive learning culture and flexibility – just like Smart Working.