Flexibility is the way forward

Telenor’s nearly 19,000 employees across its nine markets will be part of the company’s next generation way-of-work.

Written: Jun 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“The sum of our shared experiences is now leading us to take a new step. A step towards the next generation workday: Flexibility.” – Sigve Brekke writes in a letter shared with Telenor’s employee-base in early June 2020, heralding a new era for the company’s way-of-work.

The move comes as Telenor and its CEOs reflect on a successful and productive period of home office, made necessary by Covid-19 lockdown measures across Telenor’s markets from the Nordics to Asia.

Case-by-case

Taking inspiration from the newest member of the Telenor family, Finnish Telco DNA, the flexible approach to work will afford Telenor employees the freedom to work either from the office or remotely.

In the letter, Brekke also notes that while the way of work applies to all companies, it will be adapted and moulded to fit differences depending on the country. ‘This is a global culture,’ he writes, ‘but we will find local ways to implement it.’

When announcing the news, the CEO cited four areas that will define the next generation workday:

  1. Availability regardless of physical presence
  2. Open offices to meeting rooms and social zones
  3. Trust and performance-based management
  4. Travel will not be the same again

The letter shared with employees is available in its entirety below.


Introducing our new way of work: Flexibility

Dear colleagues,

It is an old saying that new challenges bring new opportunities. Considering the dramatic shift we have experienced in the way we work over the last few months, I dare say that this phrase has become more relevant than ever for Telenor.

With digital solutions, trust in each other, and a fantastic work spirit, we have managed to adjust to a new normal with most of us working from home. I am proud to say that during these last months, we have actually improved. We have taken quantum leaps in digitalisation, and embraced new working models. Results from our internal Pulse-survey also reflects that most of us are coping well with working from home, noting that we feel more motivated and have found the conditions to make us productive.

The sum of our shared experiences is now leading us to take a new step. A step towards the next generation workday: Flexibility.

We want to move on to the future and bring along the best of our new experience as we now find more flexible ways of work.

The strength of Telenor is the culture we have built across our nine Business Units. It is a culture where we explore, create together, keep promises, are respectful, and with this demonstrate excellent performance. This is a global culture, but we have found local ways to implement it. 

So, when we now further develop our culture and new ways of work, the BUs will drive the implementation. We have cultural differences in our nine markets and therefore we need implementation plans adapted to local conditions and markets. In addition, all our employees need to discuss how to do this in the best way with their leaders. 

Our newest family member DNA has been progressive in this area for several years, with good experiences and delivering good financial results.  In DNA, employees on average have spent 35 percent of their working time from home.

The past couple of months have proved to us that we are a forward leaning, technology driven, connectivity based company, and I truly believe that this flexibility will give you motivation for the important journey we as a company have in front of us.

This flexibility and facilitating for the next generation workday will be important at least in four ways:

1.Availability regardless of physical presence

The flexibility means different things in different countries. In DNA our employees are working from home a couple of days a week, where in other BUs we will find other solutions. The overall ambition is to find the right balance, continue to be people focused, and also continue our performance excellence. No matter what, employees will have to be available and actively participate in all meetings and discussions regardless of where they are. Working remote, or from home, does still mean that you are actively conducting your work, and participating in your teams activities.

2. From open offices to meeting rooms and social zones

We have to re-think how we design our office space: More meeting rooms, more social zones. Employees will come to the office for work meetings, brainstorming and social inspiration, but they will not necessarily sit behind a desk and work as often as before. We also need to further explore digital tools to ensure efficient digital meetings and workshops.

3. Trust and performance-based management

We will continue our performance-based leadership culture with focus on how we deliver results and achieve pre-defined goals. There will be fewer hierarchical levels, and seamless work instead of silos. A more flexible working culture also requires frequent communication, engagement and collaboration between manager and employees, and clear guidance on goals and expectations. This will require more from our leaders, to set clear direction and goals, and to encourage empowerment, but at the same time, systematic follow-up.  We will integrate this way of work in our local plans and follow-up on a continuous basis. In short, we will have greater clarity and direction, empowerment, and more frequent and engaging communication across our organisation.

4. Travel will not be the same again

With more virtual meetings, there will be less need to meet physically. This is good for work life balance and for reduction of climate emissions. As our need to socialise and meet still will be important, we will also in the future meet across countries, markets and projects, but we will do so less frequently than before.

To sum up, we do this because:

  • It gives us more flexibility and creates new opportunities
  • We believe flexibility can be combined with increased efficiency
  • We adapt to the future way of work, with trust, responsibility, performance based leadership, fewer silos and better communication
  • We build on successful experiences and results from DNA since 2012 and from the entire company over the last couple of months
  • We will spend less time commuting and travelling, i.e. more time on what matters most to us
  • We will combine trust and responsibility; we will balance the need for being available and accessible with the need to distinguish between working life and private life

I look forward to starting this new journey for Telenor with all of you. We will learn from our experience as we go, and we will constantly improve and adapt to the model that in the best way can combine flexibility and efficiency. And, we will never lose sight of our overall aim, to connect our customers to what matters most to them.

Sigve