Over the last two months many if not all of us have experienced some of the most drastic changes to all our lives and working patterns. We have had to deal with huge shifts and adaptions in where and how we work and, in some cases, if we could work at all.
As we are all starting to embark on getting back to work or adjusting how we work its important we take time to reflect and factor whats happened, and what we need to do for the future to make the “Return to Next Normal” work for both companies and its employees.
React and Respond…
During this period large numbers of IT providers were the early responders as the corona-virus crisis unfolded. Pulling out all the stops to enable companies and their employees to continue to function. New ways of working were quickly implemented to keep us all working.
However not all decisions that were made were based on long term thinking and rationale thought. This does mean some of these decisions will require a review for their longer-term implications.
This enforced event however has given us all an opportunity to experience change at a rate we were unlikely to experience at any other time. Whilst this has no doubt been disruptive, it has provided companies and their employees with a view of what the future might look like for us all.
The Big Reset….
We have had some time now to be able to evaluate and reflect, and get a sense of things that have worked and things that don’t quite work for us. This provides us all with a unique opportunity to hit the reset button on our old ways of working. Now is the time for companies to review their employee workstyles and patterns, evaluate the policies and actions that were taken during the crisis and review their methods and technologies to see what works and what needs to change for the future.
Key to making the return to ‘next normal’ work effectively is to ensure the needs of the employees are considered: –
- How will your employees return to work, what is the next normal for them?
- Will the office work environment be different?
- Will remote work continue? Will it be for selected groups?
- Do you have the right technology for remote workers?
- Is the right network, secure and capable for our employees to work remotely?
- Do we need to consider how we enforce social distancing at work?
None of these questions have obvious answers and for some employees’ and their workstyles this will likely be a divisive moment.
Companies must also not ignore the affect this situation has had on its people both emotionally and physically. Factoring in their health and well-being into this review is paramount.
It’s difficult to predict when we will finally emerge from this crisis and what the future of work may become. But what is certain, is we are quite likely to find ourselves in a world that is significantly different from the one before this crisis. It’s very likely that our employees’ workstyles, patterns and behaviours will have changed, and hopefully for some its permanent.
Adapt and Evolve…
The huge shift in employee work patterns we have experienced needs careful consideration on how we are to adapt and evolve how were going to work in the future. Companies need to start now in re-imaging the future of work, use these lessons learned and take the opportunity to adapt and embrace totally new ways of working.
Gaining the buy-in of your employees will be key to making the return phase and beyond work for all. Companies and leaders should be empathetic and demonstrate an understanding that their employees need to come to terms with this new and changing experience.
Giving them the time to adapt to new ways of working is key. Employees coming back after furlough or a period of remote work may find the physical layout of their workplace changed and their routine adapted. For office workers, returning to a workplace may require a mindset shift for those who’ve adjusted to working remotely. In order to navigate these changes, leaders should make sure employees understand what’s being asked of them and what steps the company is taking to protect them. Companies need to allow employees the chance to voice their views and concerns and be part of the identification of potential problems with their return plans.
Engaging in open trusted communication, is the only way both employees and companies will get through this next phase of the crisis. And hopefully in time provide an opportunity to increase overall employee engagement and boost their productivity.
NOW is the time to work together to get this right, let’s not waste it….