In today’s dynamic environment, digital literacy and a mindset focused on collaboration, transparency and self-organized learning are crucial. If applied correctly, digital tools can improve efficiency, productivity and innovation. Yet providing tools and training is not enough. The most difficult and most important step is to change familiar patterns and ways of thinking. Employees need to break out of their comfort zone, share successes and failures transparently, try out new approaches, network across regions and departments, take the initiative and be empowered to do all this through an appropriate environment.
The vision of our digital workplace is to enable everyone within Umicore to collaborate from anywhere in the world.
Keeping our colleagues connected thanks to the digital workplace
Launched globally in December 2019, Umicore’s Digital Workplace project aimed to improve the efficiency, productivity and innovation of our employees by optimally using digital tools. The vision of our digital workplace is to enable everyone within Umicore to collaborate from anywhere in the world, sharing experiences and knowledge through a worldwide network as part of our daily routine.
Little did we know at the end of 2019 that the timing of the launch of Umicore’s digital workplace would come at exactly the right time, given the spread of COVID-19 a few months later. By the time the first wave of the pandemic hit, Umicore employees had been using the digital tools on a daily basis for several weeks already. Digital meetings and calls had become part of our routine and collaborating on documents for projects was becoming increasingly common.
Digital heroes to the rescue
When the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to hold physical meetings and so many of us had to work from home, Umicore employees were familiar with the digital tools. As such, they were able to keep our activities running and stay connected with colleagues, almost as in normal times. Those in need of support could rely on an ambassador community of ‘digital heroes’ to personally help them solve technical issues. We also hosted a series of specific learning sessions on digital workplace topics such as remote working, efficient online meetings, file sharing and virtual leadership.
As the uncertainties around COVID-19 and the corresponding safety measures persisted throughout 2020, many Umicore employees began looking for innovative solutions to their daily challenges which they found in the digital workplace. For example, audits were conducted remotely; physical town hall meetings (where information is typically shared to a broad live audience) were successfully replaced by virtual town hall meetings; a digital onboarding program was implemented to virtually welcome new employees joining during the pandemic; and to maintain the connection between colleagues, virtual social events were hosted, such as birthday celebrations. In our operations, smart glasses made it possible to install production systems in some of our plants.
Amidst the many challenges of 2020, our digital workplace enabled us to seize the opportunity to stay connected and engaged with our global community of colleagues.