A+ E Networks is a truly global media company with joint ventures and channels all over the world. In addition to its New York headquarters, A+E Networks has offices in London and Singapore. A+E Networks currently partner with over 360 operators broadcasting throughout the Nordics, Benelux, Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We have offices in London, Warsaw, and Johannesburg. We caught up with Elaine Jackson, their Director of Office Management and Post Production in London. Elaine has been a pivotal person in ensuring the wellbeing of employees at the peak of lockdown but also now as we move into a new phase of work.
Knowledge is power
From the get-go it has been imperative for us to understand how all through lockdown our employees have been feeling. Getting to grips with everyone’s different home setups and differing needs has been key to knowing how best to provide support. The more we know about individuals, the better equipped we are with our approach. This is equally true of understanding how our employees feel about returning back to the office which is why we have conducted multiple surveys. The five day working week will now look very different, so we have made sure that our office has been upgraded to such a point that everyone feels comfortable working in the office. Staying in regular contact will be our greatest strength going forward.
We had mental wellbeing champions in place before we went into lockdown, however it was during lockdown that these champions really came into their own. A lot of people felt isolated during lockdown, so having people in place always available to talk and be reached out to was critical as everyone was adjusting to their new long-term environment. We care deeply about the mental health of our staff which is why we implemented initiatives such as ‘Well-Being Wednesdays’ or weekly huddles. Our weekly huddles served as support groups for different people and their needs; whether that was parenthood and childcare, feeling isolated or even just general cabin fever. We wanted to create an virtual safe space where our employees were able to express themselves freely without fear of judgement.
Planning for a second wave
The bottom line in planning for a second wave, is that all our employees are able to work from home. Our business contingent team are there to ensure that everything is working completely for our employees to make the transition as smooth as possible. We now know what works and what doesn’t and we have spent time upgrading our processes and systems so that if there is a second wave we will be completely ready. For us, what is important if there is a second lockdown, is ensuring we remain connected to our employees emotionally and are on hand to help them if they are dealing with fatigue. Something I admire about A+E Networks as an organisation is our transparency; everyone has a voice and no one is afraid to say if something is or isn’t working.
Agile working always
We have always celebrated the fact that as an business we are agile and we have an agile approach to work too. This quality of agility is only going to be enhanced further with our return into the office. Our office is being split into groups of even and odd numbers and depending on which number you are that week, will determine whether you will be able to book yourself a desk in the office that week. All bookings can be made by employees on their phone and never will the office be at full capacity because we want everyone to feel that the office is a safe space. We also have put in place a clear desk policy, again emphasising the need for the space to be clean and each person wipes down their desks at the start and end of each day. Before everyone returns to agile working in the office, there will of course be a ‘return to the office’ induction. Everyone needs to read our company risk assessments that are in place so that we can be the best version of ourselves going forward.