“Growth takes place whenever a challenge evokes a successful response that, in turn, evokes a further and different challenge. We have not found any intrinsic reason why this process should not repeat itself indefinitely, even though a majority of civilizations have failed, as a matter of historical fact.”
Arnold J. Toynbee A Study of History
Everyone now knows that working from home has gone much better than many believed possible. It’s highly likely, if not inevitable, that if you are a leader, you are doing some restructuring of facilities and technology, if not wholly redesigning your organization to be a flexible workplace, often blending co-located workspaces, work-from-home (WFH), and mobile work options.
And, hopefully, you’ve committed to approach it strategically. (See last month’s The SMART Workplace blog post by co-founder Kathy Kacher for the 5 strategic elements of successful migration to the flexible workplace.)
Economic and other COVID challenges such as safety for all are forcing examination and sometimes transformation of business and operational models and processes. Whether transformational or adaptive, once strategy decisions are made, key performance indicators, workflows/business processes and talent management/metrics need to be revisited as well to identify talent and performance drivers.
Executives and change leaders need to step back and consider how to better adapt ways of working together that intentionally strengthen the company culture you want, expand emotional bandwidth of people working together apart, and that examine and adapt to meet the needs of customers and deliver results.
We are at the 4th Industrial Revolution’s tipping point – living through a work transformation where technology is the enabler, but people and purpose are key. “Space” and “Place” are flexible, co-located, virtual, and mobile because for many jobs today, regardless of where you work, the network is the workplace.
We’ve proven the workplace can be home or office for most information workers, and most people can and are productive, working collaboratively while virtual. The secret to WFH productivity, is that obstacles can be overcome and sustainable only as long as people feel connected, clear, and they know they are contributing to the organization and making a difference.
In the real virtual work world….
Loneliness still sets in; the desire to connect will drive many to want to return to the office – sometimes. Innovation blossoms in blended environments, opening the options for thinking where we do our best work, including structured reflection time and connected energy- and idea-building F2F sessions.
What we also know is that social connection matters. To lead with what works best, ask questions and gather data that inform and focus company policies and a flexibility framework on connecting the organization and individuals in multiple ways. The most obvious proactive systemic solution to workplace loneliness is to better leverage technology to keep people connected to each other, becoming more connected as a whole, from wherever people work.
BE FOREWARNED FROM AN EARLY ADOPTER AND EXPERT ON HYBRID WORKPLACES….
I’m not a prophet, but in my 30 years working with F50 companies to install telecommuting solutions, I can predict problems. In the mid 90-s hybrid teams were the only option for the most part, mostly because the technology and mindsets weren’t there yet. I’ve learned a few things and have been talking to clients and professional organizations about the network as the workplace.
Hybrid is sustainable and doable with smart planning, inclusive and representative voices in decision-making and implementation, ensuring an integrated approach to organization redesign that considers the user perspective/the employee experience and the strategic needs for the business.
As you are planning for how and when to move from COVID-driven WFH and essential workers to a more permanent workplace policy. Do not be haphazard about this! In my next blog post, I’ll share the 5 Critical Success Factors, the risks, and the rewards to consider when making flexible workplace policy decisions.
At The SMART Workplace, we can facilitate any or all aspects of these strategic and operational decision-making processes, from strategic facilitation to help with templates, structural guidelines and best practices. We can be involved with your change team or be your guide on the side, coaching HR, Facilities, IT and change leaders to operationalize the transformation with stakeholder involvement. Or if you simply need training, group coaching, or an inspirational and practical webinar or keynote, be in touch!