Corporate Learning and Events, Team Switzerland
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Learning Together, Sharing the Moment

In-House Events and Corporate Learning: A Winning Combination?

Rethinking our in-house events in the age of hybrid work

Corporate learning and fun events don’t go together, right? Wrong! They absolutely do, because learning with and from one another is the most natural way of acquiring new knowledge. Add a little entertainment to the mix, and you’re learning without even knowing it. 

 

With the adoption of our hybrid work model, it was time to think up new ways of making our events truly global and bringing teams together across national borders. The new event formats had to be interactive, entertaining and capable of being held physically, remotely or in hybrid form. We wanted new paradigms that would allow us to get together for shared occasions, unconstrained by national borders. Mission accomplished! We succeeded in creating new events that are huge fun and allow us to learn without feeling like we’re learning. 

 

What follows is a round-up of our favourites – formats that enhance our learning culture while being immensely entertaining. 

Corporate Learning and Events, separator image wall

The imc Learning Festival: From Spanish courses to learning with GIFs

One format we’re especially proud of is our hybrid Learning Festival. Our employees set the programme themselves – in much the same way as a BarCamp. Anyone can give a presentation on a favourite topic, and the attendees are free to pick and choose which sessions to join. Streamed and moderated from our headquarters, the individual sessions run on Microsoft Teams so that employees from across various locations can get together, share ideas and learn from one another. The point is that the members of a team don’t necessarily all have to be physically at the same location in order to meet up. The flexibility provided by the hybrid work model means employees are free to decide whether they want to organize a get-together at a particular location or hold the event in entirely virtual form.  

Corporate Learning and Events, Learning Festival

While a colleague hosted an innovative session on 'Learning with GIFs', Senior business consultant Natalia Gonzalez, offered an interactive online Spanish session that yielded valuable cultural insights, not to mention a few handy Spanish phrases that employees can use on their next holiday abroad. “I love being able to share a little about my Mexican culture, and it was great to see how interested my colleagues were in learning something about other cultures – and how much fun they had doing it”, she says. “I’m already really looking forward to the next Learning Festival.” 

 

This new format is all about sharing knowledge and learning together. It sheds light on new possibilities for informal, festival-style learning.  

Corporate Learning and Events, Senior Business Consultant natalia Gonzalez

Breakfast, lunch or after-work party? Social learning with a new twist

Living and discussing diversity and inclusion in our company is the right thing to do and is extremely important. A few years ago, we started running various special events to mark Diversity Day and raise awareness of these important issues. This year, the organising team went a step further and came up with something extra-special for our Diversity & Inclusion Week. In an event themed ‘imc goes around the world’, each of our offices organised its own unique style of local get-together. 

 

In Freiburg, for example, the team organised a belated traditional ‘May Day hike’, while the London office held a shared breakfast. “Each team member brought along a culinary specialty typical of their national cuisine”, says Ramona Lennerhed, a senior consultant in our London office. “During the meal, each person provided a little background about the dish they had brought along. It was a wonderful opportunity to broaden our understanding of cultural differences and learn about the different personal experiences of our colleagues.”

Corporate Learning and Events, Team London

Our colleagues in Switzerland organized a physical gathering, too, opting for a team lunch. The team in Sibiu, meanwhile, gathered for a shared evening meal, enjoying great food and great company late into the night.  

 

At imc headquarters in Saarbrücken, the crew organised an after-work party, where everyone was invited to bring along culinary delights from different countries. “Even though I’m not actually based in Saarbrücken, I felt right at home and enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with colleagues I wouldn’t normally see in person. And to top it all off, we had all this amazing food. I’d definitely be up for a repeat performance”, says Franziska Filser, an instructional designer from our Freiburg office who happened to be in Saarbrücken at the time. 

Corporate Learning and Events, Office
Corporate Learning and Events, Office

This week of special events was a resounding success, as Julia Heib, an event manager and a member of the organising team, confirms: “The feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive, and it was very obvious during the week that everybody around the globe was getting into the spirit of these events, despite the hybrid model. Every year, more and more colleagues are getting excited about and looking forward to imc’s Diversity & Inclusion programme.” 

 

Our week of special events was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the cultural identities of our people – as a by-product of getting together and having fun. Eating together is, after all, one of the most fundamentally unifying of human experiences.  

Learning Days: The perfect mix of upskilling and teambuilding

Here’s another prime example of how corporate learning can be integrated into a team event: the Learning Days run by our marketing and newsroom team in Saarbrücken. Themed ‘YouLearn’, the Learning Days are where the members of the team undertake professional development on a self-selected topic and then share their learnings with the whole team. This sharing takes place in a fun, informal setting, both during a shared office lunch and at after-work drinks.As well as professional development on self-selected topics, our Learning Days are a welcome opportunity to get the whole team together at the office”, says Kerstin Steffen, Director Brand Strategy. It’s all about learning together and spending time together. 

imc move! communication and collaboration standards

Short and sweet: Our espresso sessions

We also have something for all those of us who prefer virtual events: our imcINSPIRE sessions, aka ‘espresso webinars’. These brief morning sessions offer a daily infusion of new ideas on a whole range of topics, all served up by top-notch speakers. So far, we’ve raised a cup to all kinds of topics – everything from diversity and health management to teambuilding. And like a good espresso, these sessions provide a big hit for minimal input. They are another great example of packaging knowledge transfer in an inspiring event format to create a fun shared learning experience. 

Mission accomplished: Teambuilding and learning in one

So, what’s the verdict? In short: fun, entertaining events and corporate learning are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary, in fact. Our mission was to find event formats that enable us to learn with and from one another in a way that is rich in entertainment. Learning should not feel like learning, and we believe our new event formats deliver on this. Even so, we will continue to try out and test various formats, to see which ones we should take further, and what improvements are required. Exciting times! Where will our journey take us next?  

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I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities excites me the most about my job.

 

My goal is to inspire people with creative and innovative content and to make the imc brand more tangible.

 

My passion besides my job? Travelling a lot and discovering the world. I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions at [email protected]!

Doreen Hartmann imc
Doreen Hartmann
Junior Marketing and Communication Manager
Mental Health imc
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Improving the Wellbeing of Our Employees

New initiatives for (Mental) Health and Happiness at imc

Because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything

The Roman poet Juvenal had it right with “mens sana in corpore sano", a proverb commonly translated as “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. In other words: our mental wellbeing and physical health are closely intertwined. And these days, both are sorely tested as we strive to reconcile the chaos and competing demands of our professional and personal lives. Increasingly, stress and overload seem to be baked in, and our health is the poorer for it.

 

Here at imc, we believe this needs to change. As part of our transition to hybrid working, we decided we wanted to offer support to all employees when they need it. We wanted to tilt the overall balance more towards health.

 

So, what tools did we come across in our mission to improve the health of our employees? And what other offerings did we choose in order to further enhance employee wellbeing and satisfaction? Read on and find out in this, our latest move! article.

move article_Onboarding imc

“Everything alright?” Why the wellbeing of our employees is so important

Whether it’s hectic schedules, demanding work commitments, or social crises, there are many sources of stress and strain in our personal and professional lives. And everyone responds differently. While some of us cope with – or even thrive on – these demands, others can feel overwhelmed.

 

“Not that it took a pandemic for us to know that the wellbeing of our employees is very important to us, but now, with the introduction of our hybrid work model, everyone has the ability to structure their working day around their personal needs and commitment,”’ says HR manager Jennifer Wilhelm. “The aim of this newly won flexibility is to help improve work-life balance and reduce stress levels.”

 

But we’re not content to stop just there. We want to take it a step further and offer a range of health benefits that actively promote job satisfaction, motivation, and mental health here at imc. In doing this, what we want is for our employees to enjoy working at imc and be able to achieve their potential, both professionally and personally, without it costing them their wellbeing.

Supporting mental health within the company

Promoting health is an important part of the imc culture and is something the company’s Executive Board takes very seriously, as board member Dr. Wolfram Jost explains: “For all of us here, the last few years have posed new challenges for our health generally, and in many cases, for our mental health in particular. We want to do all we can to support our imc family, so we decided to add voiio and My7Steps to our package of employee benefits.”

Der Vorstand der imc AG
We want to do all we can to support our imc family, so we decided to add voiio and My7Steps to our package of employee benefits.
Dr. Wolfram Jost
Member of the Board
imc AG

My7Steps is for anyone who needs short-term support for difficult life situations or personal crises. It puts people in need of help in touch with qualified psychological counsellors.

 

The second platform, voiio, gives employees access to online support for all life situations and phases. Its comprehensive offering deals with self-care, pregnancy and childbirth, relationships, jobs, caring for family members, finance, and much more, so people looking for help are sure to find what they need.

 

That all sounds good in theory, but what do imc’s employees think of these offerings, and are they even using them? We asked around, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

 

Zrinka Prša, a junior software developer at imc, had this to say about her initial experience of the courses offered by voiio: “When I found out about it, I was particularly taken with the mindfulness courses. Most of them are held early in the morning or later in the evening, which is great because they don’t take up much time, and I can try them before or after work. I can use them for an early-morning energy boost to start my day feeling focused, and at the end of the day I can use them to de-stress and unwind.”

Mental Health imc

Communications manager Nadine Kreutz is also a voiio fan. She uses it to help build a little physical movement into her day. “Like a lot of people, probably, I don’t get as much exercise as I should, particularly exercise for strengthening and mobilising my back. And I have zero interest in pre-recorded workouts of the kind found on YouTube, etc. So, I jumped at the chance to sign up for a few online back exercise programs on voiio, where the trainers model the exercises live and can even provide personal feedback on your technique, if you want. The sessions are only 15 minutes long, so you can easily fit them into your routine, whether you’re in the office or at home.”

Photo of Nadine Kreutz
The sessions are only 15 minutes long, so you can easily fit them into your routine, whether you’re in the office or at home.
Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
imc AG

imc employees as champions of improved health and wellbeing

The increasing focus on mental health at imc is also due in no small measure to the efforts of our employees themselves. Within our organisation, there has sprung up a small grassroots movement of individuals who are proactively championing and re-imagining health and wellbeing and helping to develop creative new approaches. Learning strategy consultant Katharina Kunz, for example, offers regular mini yoga sessions that have been very well received by her colleagues.

 

“I think we sometimes forget how beneficial a few minutes of calm breathing and conscious movement can be when we are feeling stressed and unfocused”, Katharina says. “That’s why I offer my Focus&Flow sessions. They don’t require any equipment, and they provide regular opportunities for fellow imc employees to consciously take time out to work on their health. And, of course, yoga is more fun in a group.”

Mental Health imc

The importance of mental health and work-life balance has also been highlighted in team-specific sessions. Product marketing manager Carlotta Pudelek welcomes this development. “I’m very pleased to see that imc is discussing this subject so openly and encouraging employees in need to accept help. In work contexts in particular, many people are reluctant to talk about mental health. And yet issues with mental health are so common, and talking about them in the open can be such a big help to those affected.”

 

All these initiatives are supported by our brand ambassador programme, where members are invited to get involved and promote employee health in the new “imc Care” pillar.

Mental Health imc

Watch this space: Health Weeks

Because health is paramount at imc, we want to go further than these two offerings and proactively raise awareness of (mental) health. We don’t want to give too much away just yet, but it’s safe to say there will be an imc Health Week featuring various special formats dedicated to health and wellbeing.

The line-up includes everything from keynote addresses to sports sessions, to information resources featuring all manner of practical tips, so there’s plenty for all of us to look forward to. We sincerely hope everyone will get on board with this and invest in their long-term wellbeing.

 

And on that note: take care of yourselves and stay healthy!

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I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities excites me the most about my job.

 

My goal is to inspire people with creative and innovative content and to make the imc brand more tangible.

 

My passion besides my job? Travelling a lot and discovering the world. I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions at [email protected]!

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Doreen Hartmann
Junior Marketing and Communication Manager
imc Learning Days
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It’s all about Communication & Collaboration

New Work: Communication and Collaboration as Keys to Success

Why internal communication is fast becoming a core element of our hybrid work model here at imc

Hybrid working has transformed how people at imc interact with one another. While some employees prefer to work in the office on certain days, others prefer to work remotely from home – in some cases from a different country or even a different time zone. And as people head out the office door, those chance encounters at the water cooler and shared coffee breaks start to fall by the wayside. We still want to share and connect with one another of course – we just need new ways of making that happen.  

 

High time, then, to put in place some global communication and collaboration standards to ensure that the collaboration continues to work successfully. This latest move! article presents the formats we’ve come up for this and outlines the specials that the individual locations have already developed. 

move article_Onboarding imc

The golden rules for successful communication and collaboration

Our task was to review existing strategies and create new interaction formats to put our hybrid work model on a global and more professional footing while preserving our open corporate culture.  

It was clear that the success of the hybrid work model hinged in part on the introduction of harmonised (quality) standards as the basis for day-to-day communication and collaboration.  

 

We set to work developing global standards that would facilitate further creative forms of collaboration and hence opportunities for sharing and exchange. The result? Our Communication & Collaboration Guidelines. The guidelines contain ground rules for communication, hints on meeting netiquette, social media playbooks and recommended best practices. Their purpose is to guide us in our day-to-day shared work and dealings with one another. The guidelines also set globally applicable quantitative and qualitative standards for communication and collaboration at imc.  

Inspirational speakers discuss hot topics: Our imcINSPIRE sessions

As well as standards, we wanted to create formats that both bring imc employees together and create real added value.  

    

And so were born our imcINSPIRE sessions – short, punchy learning nuggets that employees can do in the time it takes to have a coffee. The sessions cover a wide range of fascinating topics, so there’s something for every imc employee. So far, we’ve had nuggets by the internal IT people on the proper use of commonly used collaboration tools like MS Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, plus all manner of sessions on subjects ranging from diversity and personal branding to effective time management to team building. Based on the positive feedback from our colleagues, we will definitely continue to use and develop these sorts of formats.  

imc move! communication and collaboration standards

Welcome to imcUNITE

The standards and guidelines were all well and good, but there was something else that no effective internal collaboration system can be without: an informal communication channel for all employees. We had already set up a channel for this purpose, but hardly anyone knew about it, let alone used it, so we gave it a complete revamp and breathed new life into it. The result is imcUNITE. 

 

Our aim with this internal MS Teams channel is to bolster informal communication at imc so as to break up team silos and build an active imc community where everyone supports each other. The idea is that it should be quick and easy for all imc employees to keep up to date with current internal news and developments. Of course, the channel needs to be fun, too, which is why the relevant community managers regularly run a range of engaging formats and interactive specials, such as Christmas quizzes and GIF challenges.  

imc move! communication and collaboration standards

Team Switzerland: When office day becomes a major highlight

Our colleagues in Zurich head into the office every Tuesday in a shining example of how “office day” can go from a normal working day to the highlight of the week. Being on site offers valuable opportunities for informal chats with workmates during breaks. On office days, employees are encouraged to keep off-site meetings to a minimum so that they can benefit from on-site exchange and team building.  

 

The icing on the cake is the shared team lunch, which, at the express wish of the team, is always held at a nearby restaurant. “Working at the office, you’re much more in tune with what’s going on than if you’re at home,” says Vildan Ljatifi, a sales consultant in the Zurich office. “Everyone looks forward to office day because it’s the perfect antidote to working from home.”  

imc move! communication and collaboration standards

Kaffeeklatsch Ausssie-style

What better way to spend your lunchbreak on a fine day than indulging in coffee and cake with your colleagues at your favourite local cafe? This quintessentially German of pastimes has, it seems, caught on with our Australian team, who have instituted regular Coffee & Cake Meetings.  

 

The idea of these outings is that getting together in a relaxed setting over coffee and tasty treats from the desserts cabinet is a great way to foster informal interaction and dialogue outside of work. “Obviously, it’s also a way of connecting with our company’s German heritage and its ‘coffee and cake’ tradition,” says Tyson Priddle, Director Digital Learning, Australia.   

 

move! communication and collaboration

Upskilling and team building with learning days

Team spirit and collaboration are also the name of the game at our headquarters in Saarbrücken. The marketing & newsroom team, for example, holds regular “Youlearn” learning days that provide professional development on self-selected topics. They are also a welcome opportunity to get the whole team together at the office. With everyone in one place, it’s so much easier to disseminate new knowledge – and chat over a shared lunch.

imc move! communication and collaboration standards

More soon – stay tuned!

As you can see, people at all our individual locations have been working hard to create more opportunities for face-to-face collaboration and interaction. There’s a lot more to be done of course, and we’re pleased to say other teams have already signalled plans to institute their own little rituals and head back into the office more regularly, COVID restrictions permitting. We can’t wait to see what amazing ideas and creative forms of collaboration will take root to keep our imc sense of togetherness alive despite the distance that separates us. Stay tuned! 

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Contact person

I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities excites me the most about my job.

 

My goal is to inspire people with creative and innovative content and to make the imc brand more tangible.

 

My passion besides my job? Travelling a lot and discovering the world. I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions at [email protected]!

Doreen Hartmann imc
Doreen Hartmann
Junior Marketing and Communication Manager
move article_Onboarding imc
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Turning onboarding into an experience

Welcome on board - the new imc onboarding journey

How imc is leveraging new work to create a new culture for welcoming new team members

No more boring onboarding processes! The pandemic has left its mark, and we embarked on a holistic new work approach. Now, it’s time to rethink our onboarding journey as well.

 

As a digital learning provider committed to creating digital learning experiences, this was a challenge: We had to set a high standard. While we already proved ourselves in many (onboarding) projects,we now had to design and implement a successful process at imc.

 

Challenge accepted. Hybrid, global and unique – these characteristics were a must for the onboarding journey we wanted to create while integrating gamification elements and, of course, our Learning Suite.

Well, and it should be fun. Quite the wish list.

 

At the same time, we wanted to move away from pathetic handbooks, boring guidelines, and isolated solutions for individual locations. Having an onboarding journey that inspires and motivates while turning our brand and our brand values into an experience to complement our global processes was important to us.

 

In our latest move! article, we took a look behind the scenes of the new onboarding programme and present several exclusive highlights.

move article_Onboarding imc

A different take on onboarding

We all know that exhilarating joy we feel when signing a new employment contract. The days leading up to that first day of work are usually marked by anticipation and excitement.

 

We were determined to hold onto these positive vibes. Using a hybrid approach was also a key factor. “While the imc team loves digitisation, we strongly believe in human communication. Thus, the journey should not be exclusively digital,” says Kerstin Steffen, Director Brand Strategy at imc.

 

Claire Raistrick, HR Manager and member of the Onboarding Project Team even goes a step further and sums up the grand objectives: “At imc, we believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee contributes their uniqueness, as well as huge potential for performance and success. At imc, we create an environment that allows employees to reach their potential. Loosing the energy of a productive employee is a lost opportunity. Loosing a new employee through poor onboarding is criminal.”

Claire Raistrick
Loosing the energy of a productive employee is a lost opportunity. Loosing a new employee through poor onboarding is criminal.
Claire Raistrick
Senior Human Resources Manager
imc information multimedia communication AG

Seizing the new opportunity: Welcome to imc!

What exactly can our new recruits expect? “Today, this super-sweet – and personal – welcome message from my team arrived in the post. What a fantastic gesture! Thank you!” Vanessa Steinmann had left this comment on LinkedIn. It is but one of many examples.

 

At imc, we are confident that welcoming new team members already starts with pre-boarding. That is why we post out a personal greeting and invite our new recruits to our brand-new pre-boarding cockpit. A win-win situation: The new recruit can get a feel for our Learning Suite and start exploring everything they need for a successful start – from welcome videos to our cultural playbook. In addition, our BizQuiz is great fun while playfully offering valuable introductory information on all aspects of imc. Of course, Onboarding Buddy Smarty is always on hand to support the onboarding mission.

move article_Onboarding imc

Time for surprises

We came up with a number of specials to ensure that everything goes smooth in the first few days and weeks. The custom-created Welcome Boxes unleashed waves of enthusiasm, delighting both our existing and new team members. Jan Stauder, IT Engineer at imc, claims that everyone loved the fruit-jelly foxes resembling the “smart fox”, a popular German cartoon character. When Claudia Michels started her new role as Corporate Designer, she was over the moon to receive the imc coffee mug and clover seeds with the message stating, “We grow together.”

Our new brand training is yet another highlight in our onboarding programme. We already created this for several customers. Now, it has become a key component for our own journey. The objective: Going beyond understanding the corporate brand and diving into a full experience. In this gamified course, our mascot Smarty takes the new colleague by the hand to discover imc brand identity together.

move article_Onboarding imc

Entertainment and networking: Our Welcome Days

How do you beat this? We went another step further with our hybrid Welcome Days. Our Welcome Days are THE networking events for all new imc team members. For two days, everyone seizes the opportunity to meet imc leadership personalities, and gain insights into the product portfolio.

 

“We wanted to make sure that entertainment and networking are not neglected,” says Desiree Stroh, HR Manager and Welcome Days Host. “You can participate in activities like bingo, quizzes or the virtual photo box, that provide technical content while also offering variety and fun. These onboarding moments should make new colleagues feel that they made the right choice in joining imc and giving them memories of their first steps they can look back on with a smile.” Jennifer Wilhelm, HR Manager and Welcome Days Organiser, emphasises just how important it is to get newbies on board, create memories and form connections with them that will stay with them for a long time on their journey with imc.

move article_Onboarding imc

Orientation phase: Check!

We wanted our onboarding journey to continue beyond the first few weeks after welcoming our new imc family members. “Work in progress” is the motto under which we are still developing additional creative ideas to turn this phase into yet another experience.

Mission completed

After six months, it’s “mission completed”. A reason to celebrate. For all of us. And best of all: The journey continues. A range of events and campaigns like our brand ambassador programme or our diversity and inclusion initiative encourage employees to get involved and network, even when working in a hybrid system.

 

Are we proud of our new onboarding journey? Absolutely! Is it perfect? No. That’s why we are aiming for continuous improvement. Leveraging our employees’ help to shape things is one of the fundamental principles of our new work model. That is why we are inviting our team leaders and colleagues to get involved and help shape these new processes.

 

We must say though: After two months, the feedback we received makes it clear that it is all worth it – and that is great encouragement for us to step it up a bit more. Let us surprise you!

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Contact person

I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities excites me the most about my job.

 

My goal is to inspire people with creative and innovative content and to make the imc brand more tangible.

 

My passion besides my job? Travelling a lot and discovering the world. I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions at [email protected]!

Doreen Hartmann imc
Doreen Hartmann
Junior Marketing and Communication Manager
Kerstin Steffen and Kenny Littlepage
move!
Backstage at imc

New work at imc: Shaping the work culture of tomorrow

What the development of a shared working world with the best possible outcomes for employees, customers and the organisation looks like

New work is in. Everyone’s talking about it. There are discussions about flexible working hours, new office concepts or even the 4-day week. All these models focus on one thing: companies want to put employees in the focus and create a working environment in which creativity, self-determination and flexibility are lived.

 

This change is also actively driven forward at imc. We therefore spoke with a New Work pioneer, who is helping to manage the process. In the move! interview, Kerstin Steffen reveals what is meant by performance culture instead of attendance culture, why imc decided against a total change to home office work and what role managers play in all this. 

Kerstin Steffen

Director Brand Strategy and New Work Pioneer

imc move

Hello Kerstin! Thank you for making time. imc has recognised that a new work culture is needed and started the New Work Initiative. When did you start the “transformation phase” and why did you take this step?

Kerstin Steffen: We were tied to our home offices for almost two years because of the corona situation. That already gave us many opportunities for development. Before we embarked on the actual transformation, we were facing the question: “Is it actually reasonable to take a step back, or should we continue pressing ahead?” We made the decision to move to a “100% flexible but not 100% remote” model. The transformation phase serves to smooth the transition to the new official, hybrid work model we will adopt in 2022. We want to offer the teams the opportunity to try out and test things, and to incorporate their experiences into the new work culture.  

Photo of Kerstin Steffen
The model we believe in is 100% flexible but not 100% remote.
Kerstin Steffen
Director Brand Strategy

100% flexible but not 100% remote – What exactly does that mean?

Kerstin Steffen: Simply put, it means that our activities are no longer tied to the office as a matter of principle, but the company affords us the flexibility to decide whether we want to work from home or from the office. You could also describe it as performance over attendance culture. We have no fixed attendance quota, but time in the office should be agreed with the team and the manager, and flexibility must not compromise organisational objectives.

 

While we firmly believe in flexibility, we clearly decided against moving all work to the home office. The relationship and commitment to the company remains very important to us. We want our offices to remain a place of communication and interaction – and that applies to official team meetings as much as personal discussions over a coffee.

You established a New Work Pioneers team. Which departments do the team members come from? How do you collaborate?

Kerstin Steffen: The core team of the New Work Pioneers is based at the headquarters in Saarbrücken where the decision to embark on the New Work Initiative was made. We selected the team based on competences and included members from Internal IT, HR as well as Communications. That allows us to bring together the core competences to support process changes within the pillars of people, technology and spaces. Of course, we can add members that contribute other skills as and when we need them.

 

We hold regular meetings at least once a week, where we discuss and prioritise all the topics in our target plan, as well as any issues that arise. At times, the core team is split into smaller project teams. For instance, we maintain regular feedback loops with the managers of our different offices to get everyone involved. It also helps us see where improvements are needed and highlight how we might provide support from the headquarters.

Can you summarise the objectives of the imc New Work Initiative in one sentence?

Kerstin Steffen: The overarching goal is to develop a working world together that generates the best possible outcomes for us as employees, our organisation as well as our customers in the given context and situation. In other words: We love being flexible, but this is tied to the condition that the corporate objectives are met and performance is maintained.  

Julia, Kerstin and Nadine

Would you say this mindset is what makes new work at imc so special? What is the difference between your approach and the total switch to home office work other companies have realised?

Kerstin Steffen: We are a digital brand and stand for learning. Naturally, we want to understand modern formats and establish ourselves as a pioneer. Yet, compared to the key players in the market, we still have some catching up to do. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasise that this was a fantastic step for imc, and that our colleagues and applicants already consider it an absolute benefit. Working together to drive and shape cultural change is also a huge opportunity – and I invite everyone to seize it. We can be fairly sure that this is not a universal prospect offered by all companies, which makes it a USP for us.

 

Personally, I really want to see every single person benefitting from it. That means we also need to be open to constructive criticism and listen to concerns, no matter how excited we are about our ideas and progress.

 

We are all learning together throughout this change process, and our success is dependent on wide-spread acceptance.

What role does remote or virtual (team) leadership play in this transformation?

Kerstin Steffen: It is very much a matter of mindset. We know that team leaders and managers play a key role, because they represent the corporate values and culture to a great extent and infuse the company with these. We adapted the leadership model and developed three new pillars or principles: Lead, Coach and Care. Our managers receive targeted training to develop and enable them to realise these principles and respond to the new circumstances. Based on my experience, I would say traditional management elements should be combined with agile methods. While I’m a huge fan of digitisation, I believe that digital tools are no substitute for personal contact. We consider hybrid formats a great opportunity, but gradual development is key. We are already holding intensive talks and testing various formats.

 

Managers also need to learn to place more trust in their employees and to be more organised themselves. Flexibility also involves walking away from rigid principles and allowing new things. It is important that managers adjust their mindset to support this.

Kerstin and Gijs

What were the biggest challenges? How did you respond to them?

Kerstin Steffen: We are facing challenges every day, and I’m sure that will still be the case after the transformation. We are really looking at an agile learning process – for our leadership as well as things like our hardware, office equipment or seating arrangements. Being spread out across different locations on different continents doesn’t exactly make it easier, but we are welcoming that challenge. We might not be 100% perfect, but we genuinely try to create a new work culture step by step. We are all highly motivated and rather proud to see our first successes taking shape.

 

Internal Communications and HR contribute a lot of the support for the measures. It is important to us that the changes are transparent and successes are visible.

How was the transformation phase communicated to the employees? How can you avoid unsettling employees?

Kerstin Steffen: Communication in itself is always important! Once the decision had been made, we first informed the team leaders and asked them to talk to their teams and relay any unanswered questions to us. We then made a global announcement through the official executive channel in the form of a virtual event and sent out an info email with a recording of the official announcement. In addition, we created points of contact in the intranet where information can be obtained, and key questions are answered. New formats were introduced to provide information as well as encourage employees to participate in the dialogue. Of course, the Transformation Team is always available to answer any questions.

 

Beyond our efforts to inform, each team is invited to help shape the transformation and to identify what is important for the team. We created a global framework. It is now up to each team where they go with that and how they develop it.

Kerstin Steffen

What is the employees’ response to the initial changes? Have you received positive or negative feedback yet?

Kerstin Steffen: The feedback we received was mostly positive, which motivates us to drive the transformation. Naturally, concerns and worries were voiced, but that is to be expected in any change process. It is important to take that seriously and actively offer support. It is easy to get carried away, and we must remind ourselves that it is not only a major change in the organisation, but also a cultural shift. That demands sensitive and responsible support.  

You still want to trial and test various things. What can we look forward to at imc? What else have you planned?

Kerstin Steffen: First of all, we improved our internal communication channels and created new channels to strengthen team spirit. For instance, we started a newsletter that plays a key role in actively providing information and highlight success stories. We want to make small steps visible, initial successes tangible and let employees share in the experience.

 

The new formats we created aim to enhance collaboration and communication. The offer will gradually grow: We will create global guidelines, hold workshops and include smaller learning nuggets.

 

We will also incorporate formats such as social learning, informal learning and user generated content. Our brand ambassadors are also actively helping to shape the transformation. Measures like our BarCamp, Espresso Webinars and Flow & Focus sessions are already well-established and successful. Of course, we will develop these further and make them more professional. As to the strategic aspects, the adaptation of our leadership programme will be crucial, and we are professionalising our operational model.

Thank you for your time, Kerstin! We are excited to see what you have in store for us.

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I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities is what excites me most about my job.

 

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