Jul 11, 2022

Building Communities at Vista

At Vista Group, we strive to foster an environment that puts employee experience at the forefront. Through lockdowns and transitions to hybrid and remote working, doing so could prove difficult, but it remained vital. Over the last few years, Vista Group has taken several moves to improve the wellbeing and work life of our people.

From cultural celebrations to major changes to our working life, Vista Group aims to uplift our people in a number of ways. So we sat down with Susanne North, Head of People & Culture here at Vista Group, to look back at the first half of the year, and highlight some of the changes we have incorporated to build up our community, improve our work/life balance, and change the way we work for the better.

Moving To A 4½-Day Work Week

For a number of years now, research has pointed towards the benefits of a shorter working week. A four and a half day — or even four-day — work week makes people’s lives not only more positive, but more productive at the same time. Susanne spoke to the process of making the change to a shorter working week.

“Shifting to a shorter working week was a change we had looked at for quite some time at Vista Group. Several companies in both New Zealand and the UK have been trialing four-day working weeks recently; it is something that is gaining more and more traction, and our Group CEO, Kimbal Riley, was a huge champion for us to introduce the change for Vista Group around the globe.”

It is, without a doubt, the most popular benefit we’ve ever provided.

During lockdowns throughout the last few years, rest and relaxation were in short supply for all of us. Working remotely, there are only so many resources available to support our people further. Mental health and the concern of burnout were a big focus for us, especially with the difficulty of finding separation between work and home life while working from home.

Giving time back to everyone remains one of the most impactful changes we could make to improve our employees’ work lives. With the 4½-day working week, we have more time to balance our life between work and home. We have more control, and that autonomy to plan and manage our workloads, as well as home lives, is incredibly important right now.

Vista Group has worked with the 4½-day work week for 9 months now, and it has proven immensely successful both for our people’s wellbeing and for the business. As Kimbal explained when we implemented the change, “We’re doing this to look after our people, helping them balance work and personal lives.”

“It has been very well received and has not impacted productivity nor customer service.”

Bringing People Back Together

When time came for offices to open once more at the start of the year, we looked forward to coming back together. Social interaction was sorely missed through remote work — we are social creatures, after all!

But one element that was important to our People & Culture team to emphasise as we did, was choice and comfort; recognising that for some, returning to the office was still a daunting prospect. We worked hard to provide events that would excite us to return and look forward to spending time together, but not to require a return.

For those staying home more often, we emphasised taking breaks from work, checking-in to keep an eye on their wellbeing, and making sure they had the opportunity to get out and get some fresh air. In our EMEA office, recent refurbishment provided us the opportunity to create a dedicated Wellbeing room to provide a comfortable space complete with relaxing music and lighting to help with seasonal affective disorder.

Vista Group has a long-standing tradition of social events, from simple end-of-week drinks to celebrating cultural holidays together. In our offices around the world, our social committees put together regular and incredibly fun events. Theme Thursdays in LA bringing dinosaurs to the office with Jurassic Park, or Tea Parties when special guests arrive in our UK office.

Like many things for us, it often comes back to our shared love — the movies. Movie nights have a special place in Vista Group social life, and are always a popular event. With cinema back with films breaking the billion-dollar mark at the box office, we were buzzing at Vista Group’s most recent family and friends screening of Top Gun: Maverick.

Vista Group at Top Gun: Maverick

We encourage and embrace that love of movies, but we like to celebrate everything about our people as well! Cultural celebrations have been a particular highlight this year, with both wonderful social gatherings and the opportunity to elevate voices within Vista Group to educate us about their cultures at events such as Lunar New Year, Ramadan, and recently in New Zealand, Matariki.

Learning From Our LGBTQIA+ Community

We strive to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace at Vista Group. Working with organisations such as the Rainbow Tick to ensure that we are providing an inclusive workspace across all elements from policies to staff engagement, and we are proud of what we have achieved.

“I don’t think I’ve worked anywhere in the past where there has been so much diversity.”

This year, we celebrated International Pride Month, embracing our global Rainbow community at Vista Group with special events, learning more about LGBTQIA+ history and how to grow more inclusive, and cheering on our team participating in Sweat with Pride! — a New Zealand fundraiser to help provide essential physical, mental, and sexual health services to Rainbow New Zealanders.

We really wanted to get behind our teams and raise as much as possible. This year the Vista Group Sweat with pride team set the goal of raising $4000, and knocked it out of the park by raising $4819 over a combined 5,580 minutes of exercise! We celebrated their amazing achievement at the end of the month at our social event, dressed up in our brightest colours.

In our EMEA offices, we hosted a film showcase for the winning film of the 2022 IRIS Prize, followed by focus groups for employees, where we could voice our thoughts and discuss ways in which Vista can improve diversity across the regions.

Celebrating Pride Month at Vista Group

Rainbow Tick NZ also facilitated a session at our Auckland office, aimed at learning more about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, and how to have more inclusive conversations with others.

Vista Group has been Rainbow Tick accredited for several years now; meaning our policies, staff and external engagement, and training have been evaluated and approved as inclusive and embracing the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities, but it remains important that we continuously educate ourselves and improve, both as a company and as individuals.

A Constant Journey of Improvement

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, it’s important not to rest on our laurels. While Vista Group is Rainbow Tick accredited, has an improving gender balance in a male-dominated industry, and we are actively educating our people on mental health and diversity issues, improvement is a constant endeavour. We took this into our shaping of Pride Month celebrations, centring them around learning and improvement.

While we celebrate the progress we’ve made, we are always setting new goals. Growth in that regard is part of our business as usual, and the 4 ½ day work week isn’t the only change we’ve made to improve work lives at Vista Group. Workshops, focus groups, and listening to our employees in every region office is critical to our constant work of improvement.

“We’re constantly trying to think of new avenues we can take beyond events and challenges,” as Susanne North explained, “in order to really equip ourselves to address mental health and wellbeing in a better way.”

Mental health struggles can be an invisible problem; it’s not something we can always see, especially when working remotely. And with the stresses of the current world, it’s all the more important to recognise.

Right now at Vista Group, we’re focusing on encouraging managers to think about their teams’ wellbeing, and are working to integrate new training and workshops to better equip our managers with skills identifying and dealing with mental health within their teams.

Our LA office's Theme Thursday: Jurassic World

Every day, we work to make our environment better, examining the ways we work and how we could improve, thanks to the incredible efforts of our People & Culture team, as well as everyone in the Vista Group community.

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