Refinitiv embracing the ‘new normal’ of remote working

EXCLUSIVE: Maintaining proactive, transparent and open communication is key for the Refinitiv community as the company manages its remote working workforce now, and beyond the COVID-19 outbreak.
By: | April 17, 2020

If you are a multinational corporation that employs over 18,000 workers globally, the challenge of ensuring business operations remain largely uninterrupted during the COVID-19 outbreak can be a substantial one.

For Refinitiv, one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, a top priority amid the ongoing health crisis is to safeguard the health and well-being of staff. Speaking exclusively to HRM Asia, Alfred Lee, managing director, Asia-Pacific, Refinitiv, said, “With governments and health authorities emphasising the importance of ‘flattening the curve’, we have also done our part, which includes deploying our 18,000 global employees to work remotely where they are located.”

Refinitiv serves over 40,000 institutions in approximately 190 countries, providing data and insights, trading platforms and, open data and technology platforms that connect global financial markets community. Having been on the technology-leading edge as a markets provider, the task of moving an entire workforce to a virtual office environment within a 48-hour period has nevertheless, been a challenging one, revealed Lee.

“With all our staff working remotely, maintaining a sense of connectedness and trust between colleagues remains more important than ever. This means ensuring that we have strong and robust technological capabilities to help our teams adapt to this transition towards online collaboration tools as they continue to be connected seamlessly with one another across the globe.

“As employees are also likely to be exposed to conflicting information, it is crucial to reassure staff that we are monitoring the situation closely and communicating the measures that are in place to safeguard their well-being, while ensuring that day-to-day operations can continue uninterrupted.”

Leveraging on platforms such as Office 365, Refinitiv has managed to maintain proactive, transparent and open communication, which Lee described as being critical for the Refinitiv community. With the goal of providing companies with an open platform and the key insights they need to make informed business decisions, Refinitiv is also leveraging on various other technology platforms, including virtual onboarding of new users and on-going training and webinars, to support customers.

“This has worked really well and our customers have responded extremely positively through a very high level of participation over the last couple of months,” Lee reported. “This has also helped us to scale our support for customers across the region and globally, without physical interactions or events.”

To help customers obtain the data that they need to manage and understand the current turbulence in the financial markets and global supply chains, Refinitiv has also launched a Coronavirus App on their financial analysis and trading software, Eikon. By providing the latest and targeted intelligence of different financial markets and business sectors, including healthcare, consumer goods, transportation and utilities, Eikon allows Refinitiv to continue supporting and equipping businesses with key data insights.

And while uncertainty continues to surround COVID-19 in terms of when normalcy can return to the world, the disruption that the outbreak has brought forth has been apparent. “COVID-19 will change the way we shop, travel and work for some time to come,” said Lee. “We have already seen millions of people around the world vastly adapting to teleworking, and businesses equipping themselves with robust technological infrastructures to support this transition.”

Urging companies to embrace the use of technology and maximise the benefits it can bring to their business, he also described the current climate as a “wake-up call” for businesses to carefully evaluate their current policies and processes, in order to safeguard employees, customers and operations for future crises.

For instance, will companies begin to see the positives of letting employees work from home to promote a more sustainable way of working in a post COVID-19 era? The key, according to Lee, will be the prioritisation of staff and customers, and what matters most to them.

He added, “This means maintaining close relationships with our stakeholders and being more understanding of the circumstances that many of us find ourselves in, while collaborating to ensure that we find a good balance for well-being and progress. If working from home is the ‘new normal’, then the onus is on us to upkeep that sense of connectedness and empathy that we have learnt from this pandemic.”