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‘Smart Working’ with AXA Global Healthcare’s Head of Internal Comms, Joe Malone

Series 2 - Episode 1

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Series 2, Episode 1 – AXA

Work Happy Podcast: S2 – Episode 1

Work Happy is BACK for Series 2, with more visionary communicators from some of the largest brands across a variety of sectors sharing how their internal communications & Microsoft Technologies help shape culture and encourage their teams to Work Happy.

Kicking off our return is AXA Global Healthcare’s Head of Internal Communications, Joe Malone. With past experience in journalism before working on internal comms with AXA Health, Joe is well equipped to compose clear and compelling messaging – a vital skill regardless of your channel mix.

In the first episode of the new series, we discuss the ‘Smart Working’ approach that AXA has committed to providing, the vital role of data and feedback when refining your channels, and how we as internal communicators can shape culture and inspire creativity in new and novel ways.

This episode covers:

  • Internal communicators’ varied skill sets, and how journalism has helped in Joe’s role
  • How you can foster culture through digital channels
  • Leveraging data and information to provide a the best channel mix
  • The hybrid workplace under AXA’s ‘Smart Working’ initiative


Writing skills

“My bread and butter was very much about writing, and asking questions as well. That’s obviously a key part of being a journalist. I like to think that what I was able to bring with me when I moved into internal comms was the ability to write something that was nice and clear, concise, and that everybody would understand.”

New channels

“The fact that we launched a completely new intranet and these new channels in 2020 was quite a big deal. It’s not something that AXA does frequently, so just having that space once the pandemic began was a really valuable tool for us.”

Developing Strategy

“My role is a new role so we’re just developing the strategy, really. We’re developing those channels, not rushing into anything, because we want to make sure they work. It is a much more complicated business where we’re at now with it being a global business, and people all over the world doing completely different jobs as well. It’s quite hard to find the mix.”

Global team

“We have guys in Singapore, who are in a totally different timezone. So it is really hard to get everybody together for an event, hence why something like Yammer is a conversational thread, but it doesn’t have to be instantaneous.”

Getting feedback

“I have plans to run an internal comms survey, because of course we don’t have mature channels. I want to make sure that before launching stuff, I’m giving people what they want. I have certain amounts of data, but not a plethora of it. So we have the tools and my next step really now is to start to implement what I think is going to be best for the business.”

Asking questions

“We’ve obviously done lots of surveys around smart working, making sure that we’re giving people the mix that they want. We did surveys about 12 months ago asking people, what would their perfect working week be? Would it be completely from home, completely in the office, or a bit of both? The general consensus was a bit of both.”

Creating a platform

“When you’re working over Microsoft Teams,  you create that virtual boardroom, but you don’t create the virtual post-boardroom. So you all click leave on the meeting, and within 30 seconds you come up with a great idea, and you think ‘I’ve got nobody to tell now.’. You really do lose that space to be able to get a bit more creative, and so I think internal comms is just about giving people that platform.”

Smart working

“I’m a people person, I want to be around people. Throughout the pandemic, I just couldn’t wait for the office to reopen. So when they first launched smart working, I thought, ‘I’d rather just go back to the office’, but actually, now that I’ve started to do this 2-3 days a week in the office, I’m starting to create my own boundaries and different ways of working and it is actually quite effective. So I think it’s something that people will just slowly get used to.”

Links & References

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