Staying connected through coronavirus

The past six months have been a challenging and unprecedented time for everyone. Group Head of HR Tim Jones explains how London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has helped its 5,000 people based across 25 global locations adapt to new ways of working.

How has the coronavirus crisis impacted working life at LSEG?

The coronavirus crisis has had an impact on how all of us live and work. We actually feel quite privileged at LSEG, because many of the services, information and platforms that we provide to our customers remain critical during times of stress within the markets. We moved quickly to working from home, but had to look at how we communicate and engage with our colleagues with even greater care.

As a truly global business it's really important that we still create safe working environments and spaces for our colleagues to partner, to co-create, to come up with innovations and new ideas and build things together. A colleague used an interesting phrase the other day – ‘Am I working from home or sleeping in the office?’ – and I think for me that encapsulates the challenge really well.

What measures has LSEG put in place to support colleagues?

All of our people moved to working from home at the start of lockdown and we’ve allocated funding where appropriate for office equipment to make the transition as comfortable and seamless as possible.

It can be harder to manage and lead people when you're not in the same place, so we’re continuing to support our managers and leaders with the tools, tactics and best practice to get the best out of their people while everyone is in a different location. 

Colleagues that have spoken to me have actually said they feel more connected to the organisation because of how we've approached the response to the pandemic, and how we've communicated and engaged with them. I think that's a fantastic testament to everyone involved.

We’re also particularly proud of how our early career talent has stepped up during this time and we’re looking forward to welcoming the next intake in the autumn – whether that be in person or virtually. For example, graduate rotations have continued and we held our first virtual summer intern programme in July.

How is LSEG encouraging colleagues to connect and collaborate?

Wherever possible, we’ve continued what would be in-person events using virtual platforms. This includes our ExCo breakfasts, during which a member of the executive committee meets with other colleagues.

In addition, we’ve added a new social exchange, where we partner two colleagues from different countries each month, irrespective of their role or department. Every two weeks they have a 15 minute conversation to gain a greater understanding of each other’s work and share learnings.

We also continued to develop and roll out learning modules to help managers and leaders adjust to managing teams remotely. 

How is LSEG measuring the impact of these measures?

Here at LSEG we already run a regular employee engagement survey called ‘Have Your Say’, but we’ve introduced a new ‘Ways of Working’ survey too. We’re using this firstly to measure how colleagues feel about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and secondly to gather vital feedback for our ongoing plans.

The response so far has been extremely encouraging, with strong support for how our senior leaders have engaged with colleagues during this time.

Looking beyond the current pandemic, what lessons have been learned that you hope to see continue into the future?

Wellbeing has always been a key focus for us, but during the current crisis this has only increased, which I think is really important. Working from home has meant a blurring of the lines between work and personal life, so we’ve enabled our colleagues to take time out where they need it. We’ve learned that it’s OK to break things up, it’s OK to be out walking while having a meeting on the telephone; it’s OK to think differently about how we’re operating.

We've also been looking at new technology tools that allow people to brainstorm, critique and iterate. As a global business this has helped our colleagues become better connected even during these strange times – and that’s been very powerful for us all.

Finally, we’ve actually managed to ramp up the level of training and support we’re providing during this crisis. This has often been led not just by HR, but by leaders and managers across the globe, facilitating real, authentic experiences for their colleagues. We’ve found that people have been leaning in even more than they would in a normal working environment. In whatever capacity we all return to the office in the future, these are best practices that we will continue to maintain.