Understanding All of The New Ways of Working
We don’t need to point out to you that the office and the ways in which we work has changed. The evidence is all around us, as is the discussion on how we can best harness our current learnings and processes to drive employee engagement, performance and retention. Instead, in this article, we will highlight some of the key concepts of change with our new ways of working to consider for your team.
- Understanding and recognising this will be an ongoing process of adapting and adjusting
This may be one of the most important changes that we need to accept and process as a part of the new way of working. Previously, it was common in business for change to be a gradual process that was tested, controlled and then ultimately rolled out across a team. However, the decisions, updates and changes that businesses have had to in a swift response to COVID-19 has thrown this process out the window. Now, as we return back into the office amid waves of infection hot spots around the country, we need to acknowledge that there will be times when quick responses and changes to previously made decisions will be required.
Consider: How will your business be able to respond quickly, and how will you communicate this to your team? Is there a communication or mindset you can be instilling now that highlights the need for ongoing flexibility, whilst still ensuring considered and thoughtful processes within your business around change and change management?
- Remote working, or a hybrid version of, will become more normal
A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. This may be due to changes within the office environment, cost-savings due to reduced office space or the desire for individual employees to remain in a flexible work environment. For many employees, this flexible way of work was not a possibility previously and work from home was seen as a perk.
Consider: Is there a way your business can continue to operate with a degree of remote working for your team? Will you consult with your team to engage with their feelings around remote working and desire for this to continue in some form?
- Workhours will be flexible, deviating from the standard 9 – 5
The concept of the 9 – 5 workday within the office environment is one ingrained in to society, with many businesses previously not deviating away from this concept as it was seen as a measurement of work. However, now that we work from home, we have a degree of flexibility of when we log on of a morning, when certain tasks are completed and even taking time during the workday for different activities such as coffee/lunch breaks or exercise. The focus has become more on our output, rather than the hours we have spent sitting at our desk.
Consider: How do you measure work? Is it through hours, KPI’s or output? In our new ways of working this may need to be realigned to the ways in which we are now working.
- Changes to performance management & feedback conversations
It was only a month or so ago that we looked into the concept of the changing performance conversation (if you missed it – catch up by clicking here). I think we can all agree that 1:1 conversations are a great tool for team development, employee engagement and for acting as the regular catch up piece of your performance management process as it allows you to check in on their productivity, morale, assists in mapping out opportunities for their career development or helping to coach them through work-based issues. The question here should be, how frequently are you or should you be having these conversations, and in what way?
Consider: Do you have an accountability cadence in process already that you can follow? If not, this would be an opportune moment to sit down as a business and agree on the different touch points you want within the business to drive overall accountability. Is this weekly, monthly or quarterly? What will these sessions look like, how will they be facilitated (phone or video) and what is the outcome?
- Technology will develop, adapt & adjust quickly
Technology and systems have always been a part of business as they have grown and developed around us. Tools such as Slack, Asana and even Zoom have, to a degree, found themselves previously within our work processes. With the change to a remote workforce, we have started to rely on these systems heavily, as a way of being able to connect, engage, collaborate and effectively use our time whilst distanced from each other. The technology & system space is one of continual improvement and endless possibility as many developers and great minds create and release different tools to help support our current needs – business & personal.
Consider: What systems, tools or processes did you implement at the start of remote working. Take the time to consider, have these worked? Have they provided the output or action you wanted? How can these be improved on? Is there in fact a better, long term solution that can be implemented to continue to support the productivity of your business?
- Increased focus on Mental Health & Wellbeing
Mental health support and awareness within the workplace has been gaining traction within society thanks to different initiatives such as R U OK Day. With many people now displaced from established routines, working different hours or even in different roles, the mental health & wellbeing of your team should be a constant area of support. Some team members may have adjusted well to the new ways of remote or flexible working, whilst others may struggle with a multitude of factors such as increased video meetings, reduced face to face social contact or the inability to switch off or walk away from work as in the standard office environment.
Consider: Does your team have a regular catchup and check in together, or even individually – manager to team member? Don’t just focus in these sessions on the employees performance or output, make sure you check in on them from a personal level. How can you support them to make sure they feel engaged and positive about the current environment? If your business has an EAP provider available, this is a great service for team members to reach out to as they provide an impartial ear to listen, and great feedback and resources.
When it comes to the new ways of working following the COVID-19 pandemic, there will continue to be new ideas, new concepts and new “best-practice” methodologies that will pop up as we go. This period in time has been jarring and unsettling as we try to navigate a world in for which no playbook has ever been created – We’re writing this one on the fly. The main thought we need to take from this is how we can support our businesses and our team now & in the short term, whilst we wait for the world to calm down around us. We will need to adapt and change our ways of working as this journey continues, and look to each other for input, advice and feedback on how others are also taking the journey.
Some of the greatest thought leaders within the business consulting space have created articles and thought pieces on this information that are really worth a read if you are interested in learning more. Some of my favourites that I have read in creating this piece include:
KPMG – Remote Working is Radically Reshaping How We Work
McKinsey & Company – Reimaging the Office & Work Life After COVID-19
Gartner – 9 Future Trends of Work Post-COVID-19
Deloitte – Workforce Strategies for Post-COVID 19 recovery