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A commentary by Vindou Duc, a strategist, employee experience advisor and author.
The past three months have made online conferences and workshops the new normal but what does this mean for the future of the work environment?
The recent pandemic has made us question things we took for granted in the workspace, but the positive changes implemented during these times should now be utilised to benefit organisations going forward.
We see how a crisis can become the new “normal” at any time but the importance of company values and social interaction reintroduced a human approach in the professional world. The true role of digital changed too: it became a platform to deliver, communicate and enable innovative ways of working and doing business. We learned that working remotely is efficient but has limitations as social interaction remains vital for people to be in physical contact with each other.
The inefficiencies existing in the current structures and an acceptance of change is therefore not a generational question but more a mindset question: we need to step out of our comfort zones to self-reflect on what we can do better.
Companies that thrived during the crisis implemented the following equation: tight timelines + cross-functional teams + agile mindset. What does this mean? Managers realised that team transparency and trust permitted employees to step-up to challenges and demonstrate leadership skills, bringing agility to the organisation and leading/delivering on unplanned initiatives.
... is a strategist and employee experience advisor and author. Her 25 years professional career included leadership positions at General Mills, Covance Central Labs in the fields of customer and employee experience. Learn more at www.thenextep.ch
Working remotely, managers had to demonstrate a growth mindset by “de-learning” the standard control management approach to discover a new way of distance management. This meant offering clear objectives and guidelines then letting go and trusting their teams to deliver; essentially managers had to give their teams space to feel comfortable enough to speak up and share concerns without fear of fallout.
So, as we look to the future what are the key takeaways? Marshall Goldsmith addressed leaders saying, “What got you here won’t get you there”. This crisis demonstrates the validity of his statement across the board: building on their pandemic experience, businesses will need to reset their structures to demonstrate resilience, renewing themselves without losing purpose.
Four essential steps are important in this reset: first, moving from a pyramidal to a flatter organisation, using cross-functional teams to foster cooperation and redesign work environments adapted to new social interactions; second, a servant-leadership role that builds a community by developing new social contracts committed to employee growth and development; third, a shift for managers from being a control centre to a coach who develops skills and removes obstacles; fourth, reengineering ways work gets done by leveraging digital technology, focusing on core business processes and aligning them to the customer and employee experience.
Companies will need to review their processes and culture, building on human competencies within a digital world. The challenge will be to transform the company from merely a fast caterpillar to a truly transformative butterfly.
Author: Vindou Duc
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.