"From place to link" with Orange: a new era of hybrid and inclusive work

Hybrid Stories
August 22, 2023
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Quality of Life and Working Conditions (QWLC) is no longer just a concern, but a strategic imperative for companies seeking to engage their employees and boost productivity. From SMEs to major corporations, the issue of improving working conditions is at the heart of debates, with hybrid working becoming the norm for more and more workers. In this context of change, employers have a unique opportunity to rethink the environment they offer, and inclusion is emerging as a driving force for transformation.

We met a company committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). This article explores some ofOrange 's best practices in this area, through the enlightening testimony of Frédéricke Sauvageot, QWL Director for Real Estate and Workspaces.

Let's take a look at how France's long-standing telephony supplier, with almost 30,000 employees working in hybrid mode, sees the workspace as an instrument of social and societal value.

Orange's road to inclusive offices

Real estate, an ally of DCI initiatives

In an ever-changing professional world, Orange is radically transforming the traditional notion of workspace. This transformation goes beyond the physical boundaries of the office to encompass the overall experience of all employees.

According to Frédéricke Sauvageot: "The work environment is no longer just a question of space, but a social and human issue linked to work organization and performance. This awareness is still too rare in real estate projects, even though the role of offices, in the context of hybrid working, is at the heart of many issues linked to inclusion."

Orange sees real estate as a lever to support ambitious DEI initiatives. The company is taking an innovative approach by integrating inclusive sound pathways into the design of its offices. The aim of this initiative is to create a sound atmosphere, for a positive aspect of sound. It takes into account the specific needs of employees and their acceptance of sound, to create an intuitive experience, where each space is associated with distinct sensory markers, eliminating any ambiguity and encouraging fluid interaction with the working environment.

Accessibility for real inclusion

At the same time, Orange is making neurodiversity a key element of its equal opportunities policy, on a par with age, origin, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. This approach is developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team including occupational physicians, disability referents, human resources professionals, managers, real estate experts and financial specialists.

Frédéricke Sauvageot reminds us that it is essential to recognize the reality of disabilities and to stop seeing them solely through the prism of incapacity: 

"80% of declared disabilities are invisible, the difficulties are often linked to the inaccessibility of the environment rather than the disability itself."

Orange's initiatives reflect its commitment to continuous improvement of the employee experience in relation to their individual needs, promoting true inclusion.

The managerial opportunities of hybrid working

The workspace: a tangible management tool

Orange's vision of tomorrow's offices focuses on transforming them into innovative management resources. The aim is to create inclusive working environments, adapted to the varied needs of each employee.

The remote work website, which remains a personal choice for employees, far from being a constraint, can be seen as an opportunity, offering a framework conducive to trust and objectives. For managers, this means fostering values such as support and autonomy.

However, hybrid working requires a rethink of team rituals to encourage member involvement and the pooling of skills. The manager must take up the challenge of maintaining the cohesion of his team, like a tribe, by redefining the animation of on-site presence, to take advantage of face-to-face interactions.

To find out more, explore 9 best practices for effective hybrid management.

Inspiring leadership

In a world where remote work is becoming increasingly individualized, it's up to leaders to shape a collective approach. The office at Orange, far from being relegated to the past, is redefining itself as a space for social interaction, teamwork and "doing things together", while remote work is assigning itself specific tasks.

In this dynamic, the role of the manager is transformed into that of a coach, catalyzing the energy of the whole team and cultivating genuine dynamic collaboration. By adapting approaches, not only Orange, but other companies too, can successfully navigate towards a future of hybrid, inclusive working.

As Frédéricke Sauvageot points out: "There is no ready-made solution, but the manager can take back the reins of what is essential: giving direction and a collective sense of purpose. Within the established framework, the manager remains the master of the game within his team, his role being closer to that of a coach than a referee."

The workspace thus becomes a genuine managerial resource, where collective and individual, formal and informal interactions are rethought. The organization of work in hybrid mode reveals levers for maximizing physical and concrete interactions:

  • Rethink the content of meetings by specifying objectives and expected results
  • Carefully select the meeting venue according to the purpose and timing of the meeting
  • Establish habits linked to spaces

This psychologically comfortable working environment generates satisfaction, commitment and performance. Despite the potential challenges of hybridization, this working model offers considerable advantages, not only for managers and employees, but also for the company itself. Hybridization is proving to be a powerful tool for strengthening attachment to the company and increasing its attractiveness, helping to retain existing talent and attract new employees.

Hybridization to balance time

The remote work website, already firmly established at Orange, has gained in importance with the pandemic, offering a balance between professional and personal life. At a time when a full return to the office seems unlikely, finding the right balance between individual and collective time is becoming crucial.

With the rush of the health crisis behind us, the practice of remote work must now be socially organized, embracing teams, cross-functional teams and the entire company. More than just a personal decision, it is a component of a broader organizational vision. In this way, the hybrid work model opens up new perspectives in the approach to professional activities, aiming to balance individual and collective time.

Alternating between remote and face-to-face work offers flexibility and opportunities. Equity is central to this hybridization. Taking into account the diverse needs of employees, whether related to gender, disability, age or other factors, is imperative. This implies not only a balanced distribution of professional opportunities, but also the design of spaces and policies that meet individual needs.

Orange's hybrid model, which recognizes the importance of work-life balance, encourages a collective and inclusive approach. This values the uniqueness of each employee and creates fertile ground for innovation and personal fulfillment.

As part of the roll-out of dynamic environments, real estate is at the heart of many issues linked to inclusion. By rethinking the workspace and redefining the role of management, Orange is inspiring a new era of work that is more equitable, inclusive and rewarding for all. For nearly 80% of human resources managers and executives surveyed by Deloitte, diversity and inclusion are undeniable competitive advantages.

In a constantly changing professional world, Orange's enlightened approach offers a model for other companies wishing to shape a future of work imbued with human values and shared success.

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