A CIO's perspective on the modern workplace

Date posted
20 October 2020
Reading time
19 Minutes
Rachael O'Connell

During these last few months, all organisations have adapted to a new way of working. Cast your mind back, do you remember the last time you found yourself chatting with a colleague over the coffee machine in the office? Or squeezed into a busy meeting room space for your quarterly team catch up? We 're all hoping these days will return, but when it does, will it look exactly the same, or will there be changes? Will your employees be in the office five days a week or will working from home play a bigger role? What is for certain in Kainos, is that our employees and customers will remain centre stage for what's to come.

How do you plan to build a Modern Workplace for Kainos?

Be employee-led

While companies often focus on processes and equipment, our shift is on an often-overlooked element of success employee experience. At Kainos, people are the heartbeat of our organisation. With over 1,700 people working across 15 global locations, the future of how we return to work must go beyond the immediate term and bring us to a point where employees are happier, more productive, and have the ideal home office setup while remaining connected to Kainos, their colleagues and our customers.

Create an employee taskforce

This isn't the first time the economy has been subject to a crisis, and it won 't be the last, which is why we've taken this opportunity to quickly mobilise a 'Modern Workplace Taskforce', led by our Chief People Officer. As it's unlikely that we 'll return to a heavily office based working environment, we issued an all-employee survey to the entire business to understand:

  • What role does Working from Home (WFH) play?
  • What role does office-based work play?
  • How can we better support communication and collaboration?
  • What are the opinions on working style and preferences across the organisation?

We're giving thought as to when people prefer to work from a home environment, when do they prefer to work from the customer's premises, when do they prefer to work in the offices, and how do we, through our new way of working, provide an opportunity where we can continue to develop and build talent from all levels of new hires.

Use insights to drive decisions

With a highly engaged workforce willing to complete the survey, the results shared a true representation of the views of our people their honest thoughts and feelings about working from home and what they believe would constitute the best working pattern for them in the future.

A growing swell of feedback which tells us that employees want to work from home more, we'll be looking at how we reconfigure the office environment in a way that supports this. Perhaps, the office spaces will be designed for the purpose of when bigger teams are in the office for brainstorming sessions, rather than an expectation that people are in the office from nine to five sitting behind individual desks. Our aim is to provide a better opportunity for people to flex their working hours from home in a way that suits them, suits their lives, but also helps with our geographic spread.

Another significant consideration for us throughout this process has been to understand our customers' needs, to allow us to envision a workplace where we diligently serve both our employees and our customers. It's important that we identify and prepare for customers' new requirements, develop and maintain business relationships and ensure we deliver as efficiently and effectively as we always have done.

As a future-facing organisation, there's eager anticipation to take full advantage of the possibilities Workday has to offer. For instance, we decided to embark on a project; adding Workday Adaptive Planning to our Workday stack, to help streamline our financial planning, reporting and forecasting functions, and fully integrate this functionality with Workday Financial Management. Workday Adaptive Planning enables us to adapt quickly to market changes, customer demands, and lead change in a productive and cost-effective way.

Where does technology fit in?

Technology hasn't been our driver of change, but it has certainly enabled us on our journey. We were able to transition smoothly and safely to working from home because we are an organisation which hosts systems on the cloud. For us, the challenge in moving people to home environments was more about home office set ups and ensuring health and safety, than it was about IT systems.

It speaks volumes to be able to work remotely with ease, whether it's Finance, HR, or another core system, using the cloud first approach has made that straightforward. Workday is our chosen cloud solution which provides us with a great degree of flexibility and scalability for growing our business both in the office and remotely. Workday's first-class design and deployment model is built for remote delivery, ensuring our projects stay on track for a successful go-live.

Now, we're harnessing Workday to help bring our staff carefully and safely back into the workplace. Using Workday Extend, we've been able to custom-build a 'Return to Work' application that allows our people to book space if they need to come into the office; allows managers to approve requests; and offers self-attestation, contact tracing, and Workday's powerful reporting functionality to keep everyone at Kainos safe and informed.

How are privacy considerations adding additional complexity to maintaining a safe workplace?

Workday allows us to increase security for remote working. Our customers don't need to worry about compromising high levels of security in favour of remote working capabilities. However, we are giving consideration to how we, in the best way, with a large base of people, can further improve the security of people working from home. And beyond that, technology has the power to replace paper approvals, or streamline laborious processes. A great example of this would be the potential of Workday Extend. Take, for example, a share enrolment scheme, a credit card request application or even the ability to allow employees to carry vacation days over to the next year, all within one system. The opportunities are endless.

What does the future of the business look like?

Fast-forward five years, I 'd envisage that all businesses will be designed with self-service and automation in mind. I would expect that everyone is able to self-serve completely from cloud-based systems and rely on automation for anything that they want to do. For example, automated feedback requests would improve employee development and encouragement, without the need to only give observations at appraisal time. I'd encourage all organisations to think differently about all functional areas of business, from self-serving finance functions, IT operations, or any kind of help desk, service desk or support.

At Kainos, we 'll be following the engagement of our people to deliver a modern working environment. With hardware at a place where we're comfortable, our focus would be on ensuring that employees are satisfied by their outputs rather than their minute to minute activity.

At the core of this, empowering us to achieve our desired outcome for the modern workplace, is Workday. Providing a fundamental foundation to our people, our customers and our technology.

Find out more about Kainos & Workday

About the author

Rachael O'Connell