I read a great quote the other day – ‘every time I look at the keyboard I notice ‘u’ and ‘I’ are always together’. I have no idea where it came from but I love the sentiment behind it, especially as we can all support each other as we look to the medium and long term post COVID.
However, I do worry that sometimes ‘we’re in it together’ is interpreted as we have all been affected by COVID in the same way, and our responses should be the same. Clearly neither is the case.
In the context of work post COVID, we have been doing a lot of thinking about ‘Reframing work’ alongside ‘Rethinking workplaces’. Some of our thoughts are captured in the recording of this webinar that we contributed to with Space Solution colleagues.
Let’s start this discussion with rethinking workplaces. As we all move beyond the crisis-driven ‘make-do’ phase and into our ‘next normal’, we need to be careful not to introduce a one-size-fits all workplace. We should have moved beyond that years ago but, if anything good has come out of COVID, it is that it has helped people become more open to new ways of working that reflect modern working practices.
Here’s why a one-size-fits all workplace doesn’t work:
- We all need time to think about the work we do, we all need to talk about the work we do, and we all need time to focus on getting work done. And here’s the rub … we all choose to do these things differently (and this is particularly true during a global pandemic when our own attitudes to risk also play a part).
- Some of our time will be spent on our own, some of it as a collective pursuit.
- The collective pursuit may take place ‘face-to-face’ or virtually and can involve colleagues or customers. The nature of the interaction will take many different forms; from collaborative working sessions to management discussions to sales pitches to events. Different pursuits require different environments.
- In essence, all businesses are different, teams within businesses do different things, and people choose to act and behave differently.
So, the technology, workspaces, and management support can be provided to everyone but It is then for individuals to determine how, when and where they work to add the value we are looking for.
Moving on to reframing work, there is an opportunity now to create the new ways of working that reflect the type of business you need to be to respond to future disruptions, of which there will be many.
Rather than deciding (and then managing) how all your team members should work all of the time, it is worth taking a step back and focus your energy instead on agreeing some guiding principles for how you want your business to operate. For example:
- Adding Value over Presenteeism
- Leadership over Management
- Motivation over Scrutiny
- Transparency over Policy Making
- Autonomy over Command and Control.
In parallel, introduce the technology, workspaces and management support arrangements that enable and reinforce these principles.
Then, take a deep breath, and let teams and individuals choose how and where they work to deliver the value you want from them.
We can be ‘in it together’ to find new ways of working that will build resilience into our next normal and the new ways can be more personalised than ever before.