Let’s be honest. Work before the pandemic wasn’t exactly awesome. Even then, training, talent development, and technology were just a few workplace challenges. It’s no surprise we’re struggling with those same issues now. So, why are organizations mandating employees return to the office and to a work model that was already flawed?! And what should we be doing instead?
These are just a few topics I discussed last week with host Meghna Chakrabarti of WBUR Boston’s On Point, a nationally syndicated public radio program. How can we re-imagine work to meet the moment and seize the opportunity to work better than before and during the pandemic?
“I have seen countless times (that when) organizations sit down and ask, ‘What are we doing? And how, when and where do we do it best?’” they unlock “a whole new level of engagement, performance, and well-being through that process.”
That’s what organizations should do now, but they’re not. Instead, they simply send an email with a set number of days in the office and leave it at that. That’s why we’re stuck.
Instead of focusing on a “return” to the office. Let’s focus on a “return” to fundamentals, from performance to productivity, from engagement to culture. Now that’s a “return” I can support. And speaking of culture, I believe culture is an outcome. It’s not necessarily a starting point. Culture was another thing we didn’t do so well before the pandemic.
But now we “have an opportunity to reinforce the values of the organization, to think about what matters to us — thinking about who we are, what do we do, how and where do we do it? That then becomes our culture. We become a high performing, dynamic, diverse, inclusive, flexible work culture,” and organization.
That takes leadership “willing to hold the space” for a “much more robust rethinking of work across a bunch of dimensions vs. just being in the office. Is it about days in office or is it about what are we doing when we’re together in person, and what are we doing when we’re not?”
When I recently posed that question to the senior leadership of a 10,000- person national professional services firm, they all raised their hands and said, “It’s the second thing.” My reply, “Well, then let’s do that. Let’s stop doing the mandate.”
Read the transcript or listen to the On Point episode to learn how these leaders and their business line teams are working together to develop the parameters and structure of their high performing AND flexible business operating model.
That’s the type of collective effort we need going forward. That’s how we can make flexible work – work – when we’re together and when we’re not, for both the business and the employee.