Okta hires Head of Dynamic Work to reimagine a post-pandemic workplace

Tasked with leading the shift to a fully flexible workforce, is this new role the future for HR?

Okta hires Head of Dynamic Work to reimagine a post-pandemic workplace

Thanks to COVID-19, a raft of new job roles have entered our lexicon. The HR industry is growing rapidly in response to the changing demands facing employers across the globe, with a focus on facilitating flexibility, productivity and resilience for the future.

One of those employers redesigning the way they work is technology platform Okta. The company recently announced their new Head of Dynamic Work, Samantha Fisher, who will lead the transition to a hybrid workforce. While the role and the company’s desire for flexibility were conceived pre-pandemic, COVID-19 simply accelerated the shift to embracing the new normal.

Speaking to HRD, Fisher said her role is cross-functional, integrating the business needs and staff groups as well as administrative functions.

“We really saw this as a great opportunity to change the way work and place are looked at,” she said. “It is about how we can have the two not always being conjoined because how you do work, where you do work and when you do work isn't relegated to the place that you sit anymore.”

With 14 offices around the world, including employees in Australia and NZ, the Nasdaq-listed business is one of the fastest growing enterprise software companies in the public market. Okta began the transition to dynamic working before the global pandemic and has since embraced flexibility as the future for its staff. But while a remote or hybrid workforce brings a number of benefits, there are challenges to overcome too.

“Our number one challenge is really beginning to understand what this transition means for everyone,” Fisher said. “It’s about having some intuition around what's going to work for the organisation if everybody's working virtually which is a huge transition from how everybody used to work. Being in the office together creates a lot of natural synergies and organic conversation which you don’t necessarily have in a virtual setting.”

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The second difficulty is putting the right tools and technology in place to make sure employees have exactly the same experience – whether virtual or in the office. It’s a concern that’s cropping up for a lot of HRDs as they think about the long-term reality of remote work. How do you ensure those who choose not to work in an office don’t become second-class employees?

“Dynamic work is ensuring equity, that's really what dynamic work is about in almost every sense of the word,” Fisher said. “We need equity for people to be able to access information, to share information, to collaborate and to feel like they are adding value.”

Fisher said they are approaching this challenge from two outlooks – productivity and social connectedness.

“The productive and effective element is really about asynchronous work. Knowledge management functionality enables people to share information freely and as they're working on it, with real time collaboration,” she said.

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Technology has played a big role in enabling employees to be productive and effective, for example with the use of virtual collaboration tools. Other strategies include documenting the information going into decision making and sharing meeting agendas ahead of time to give people the chance to contribute.

On the social side, Fisher said it’s about looking at how employees make meaningful connections with their colleagues and facilitating those opportunities. Onboarding is a key time and again, tech has been an important facilitator in opening up informal channels of communication. Finding common interests among employees – outside of work – is one example of a way Okta has been bringing people together.

Above all, Fisher is passionate about making sure dynamic work is successful for everyone, regardless of where they choose to log on each day. A working from home store enables employees to create a comfortable home office, with ergonomic desks, chairs, LED lighting and even an ergonomics assessment to get their set up right. Things like this are key for productivity, health and safety, but also, to demonstrate the business’s culture.

“That really is the basis of culture and to some degree, equity. It should feel just as comfortable as it did when you were at the office,” she said.” Culture is not only what we say and how we say it, but it’s how we show up in support of what we’re saying.”

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