The future of the workplace – are we there yet?
19th October 2021
The last 18 months of working were defined for us. There was simply no alternative but to work from home and remain connected with colleagues through a screen. No more! Choice, change and collaboration are back on the table and the next chapter of working is looking brighter for us all.
On Thursday 14th October, Suki Reilly, Regional Director for US East and Canada, Vanessa Manipon, Regional Director for US West and Asia Pacific, and Lindsay Peters, Global Development Director at MovePlan gathered for a Workplace Evolutionaries webinar to lift the curtain on how their portfolio of international clients are mastering change, hand-in-hand with their employees.
One of the most mission-critical tasks for today’s generation of leaders is to create a working environment and culture that simultaneously works for the business and their employees. But where should they start? Here are some key questions to ask.
What are we leaving behind?
Resistance to change! Pandemic working demonstrated our adaptability and flexibility, willingness to embrace new technology and ability to shed old habits such as printing hard copies and paper storage.
Presenteeism, rigid hours and one-size-fits-all approaches are no longer relevant in a post-covid hybrid working environment. We can leave these behind.
When asked in early 2020, Workplace Evolutionaries webinar attendees voted for ‘leadership and vision’ (44%) as the biggest barrier to workplace strategy. Fast forward to today and ‘culture and employee experience’ secured 58% of the audience’s vote, followed by ‘leadership and vision’ with 27%.
We must use this opportunity to take stock of what we need to be successful and embrace a positive mentality to test, experiment, learn and adapt together. The onus is on business leaders to be present, demonstrate trust and evolve with their employees.
“The focus on the employee is a fitting recognition of the experience they’ve faced over the last 18 months, and an acknowledgement by leadership that they form the nucleus of whatever comes next for the workplace.”
— Regional Director for US West and Asia Pacific, MovePlan
What’s moving forward?
Intentional leadership and effective team working.
An organisation is, and always will be, the sum of its parts. The pandemic exposed – more than ever before – the teams that were aligned internally and dedicated equal attention to their employees, how and where they were working and the tools they had at their disposal, and those that didn’t. This has been a hugely valuable lesson.
“The three pillars of the workplace – people, place and technology – are equally important and equally reliant on each other to create a robust and fulfilling working experience.”
— Regional Director for US East and Canada, MovePlan
Regularly, actively listening to employees, temperature testing new ideas and not simply settling for the status quo when it comes to working practises must become the norm. Each of the key components that make up a business structure, from HR and real estate to C-suite and talent managers, must be in sync and communicate in order to successfully embrace hybrid working, greater agility, dispersed team working, and much more.
Organisations have had enough of reacting and plugging the gaps. They are ready to act and be proactive so that their workforce is equipped for whatever the future might bring.
How do you incorporate choice?
Listen, learn and act.
It is important for business leaders to understand that there is no blueprint, pathway or set of steps to follow. Every business has a unique identity, culture, way of working and approach to collaboration. Leaders must listen to all parts of their organisation and get to grips with their beliefs and behaviours.
“Mastering the next era of the workplace is an opportunity, as well as a challenge. You must bring the experts to the table and establish a clear path forward for the good of your business and the talent you wish to retain and attract.”
— Global Development Director, MovePlan
It is a balancing act between accommodating all individual preferences and remaining focused on your common goals for the business. According to Leesman’s recent Why Workplace guide, it “is about building a hybrid culture that forms a new social contract with those around you in your business: a moral agreement made amongst all those who work in and for the organisation you lead, through which a collective purpose and mission is realised”.
Organisations must put in place policies and frameworks that facilitate choice on an individual, team and business level. Where once this was a rigid set of rules and expectations, today’s workplace is less easily defined. It is dispersed, dynamic, adaptable, inclusive, tailored to task and team, and crucially underpinned by increasingly sophisticated technology and invested employee voices.
So, are we there yet?
Perhaps not yet. But the stage is set for businesses to embrace this period of change and choice and embark on a journey of transformation together.