Anu Pires, Paulig’s Senior Vice President, HR, has worked for the company since 2018. These three years have been full of change – particularly the past 1.5 years. First, people started working remotely at a tight schedule and now it is time to re-visit the topic and move towards the hybrid model. In this article, Anu shares her thoughts on how to make hybrid working a success and what other trends are shaping the future of work.
What will the “new normal” look like when it comes to working life?
This question has been at the forefront of Anu Pires’ mind a lot. As Paulig’s Senior Vice President, HR, she has been heavily involved in drafting Paulig’s hybrid work philosophy, launched in June.
“I believe that the switch to hybrid work will be much more disruptive than what happened in the spring of 2020. Back then, it was simple: everyone who could work remotely started working remotely. The hybrid model is more complex and comes with many questions we don’t know the answers to, yet. For example – what is the best way to determine when people are in the office and when at home, and what will happen to office spaces?” she summarises.
Anu adds that she is approaching the change with excitement and an open mind. Paulig was early with its hybrid work philosophy, meaning the company is once again positioning itself as a frontrunner.
“Although the philosophy and the ground rules are the same for everyone, every team will determine the execution together, identify what practices work best for them. Similarly, because all of this is very new, we have for example decided to not do any immediate changes to working spaces – we don’t know what the needs will be, yet. Give it, say, nine months, and we’ll know.”
Paulig’s hybrid work philosophy applies to all Paulig employees whose role can include remote work.
Meeting all needs in a better way
According to Anu Pires, a key element to building a successful hybrid model is to find out how to give freedom to the employees without compromising business needs but in fact meeting them more effectively.
“During the pandemic, people have learned to manage their working schedule more independently which is definitely a good thing, but it also means they are not as ready to be told when and where to be, any longer,” she says.
There is a pitfall at both ends of the spectrum.
“The top-down approach won’t work: people don’t want to be dictated what to do. Their help is needed to identify what works best for each individual and each team when it comes to effectiveness and work-life balance. At the same time, the business must come first – also to secure the jobs – so all practices need to be created with its best interests in mind.”
People move and preferences change
The rise of the hybrid model isn’t the only force driving change in the working life. Others include technology, globalisation, the retirement of Baby Boomers and Generation Z entering the work force. The immediate, already present consequences of this are that people move around more and the competition for skilled employees keeps growing.
“Young people are motivated by different things than the older generations. From the employer perspective, this means that what promises used to be important might not resonate with them. For example, the promise of a solid career progression over the years may not be enough to keep them in the company. Before, it was seen more as a risk to the career to e.g. take a gap year but young people consider breaks and changes a natural part of adulthood.”
The lesson here, Anu says, is that employers should strive to understand what really is important to their younger employees.
“The preferences also change faster than ever. What is important today might become a given thing fairly quickly, with something else becoming important instead.”
Career: Anu Pires has Master’s in Economics, and she has worked in HR of several notable international companies such as Valmet, Lumene, Outotec, Nokia and Microsoft. During her time as a student, she also worked for the pizza restaurant chain Kotipizza from where she says she gained valuable skills for problem solving and working under pressure. Throughout her career, she has lived and worked in many countries such as Brazil, India, China and Singapore.
Family and hobbies: A mother of three teenage sons, Anu says her main hobby is to be a “Uber driver” to taking the three thriving volleyball players to their practice. While they are at the training, Anu likes to go on walks, including Nordic walking and an occasional run.
Last book you read: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Anu prefers light fiction for recreational reading to balance out the working life.